Fitness While Afloat

The first question most of my friends ask me about my new boat life is….How do you workout on the boat?  I’m pretty sure they are all placing bets on how long I’ll last before I go crazy and come back to land and resume my triathlon training.  It’s true triathlon and fitness have been a huge part of my life.  It’s been a major outlet for the stresses of daily life, work, and parenting.  Triathlon constantly challenged me, physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  It became a part of my personal identity and many of my closest and best friends are people I met and know through triathlon.  So – I can see why so many people ask me – what about triathlon?

One good thing about this new life is that it provides a lot of the same things that triathlon did.  When I started triathlon – I thought what I was doing was training my body and developing physical fitness.  And that was true in the beginning.  What I came to realize over the years of training – was that it was way, way more than that.  Triathlon training made me a better person, more self-aware, more empathetic, more confident, and more able to balance and prioritize the different aspects of my life.  Matt Dixon of Purple Patch (check out his podcast here) believes that through the lens of your athletic potential you will reach your human potential. I couldn’t agree more!

One of the consistent themes in the Purple Patch podcast is maintaining a growth mindset at all ages.  Triathlon absolutely pushed me to places I was scared to go – and this sailing lifestyle will certainly do the same.  There will always be something new to learn – and I’ll be constantly tested – whether it be by a long passage as a family, a bad storm, or just simply by cohabiting in 450 square feet with my family.  These challenges both scare and excite me. 

However, there still remains the question of physical fitness while afloat…. I can’t say we’ve mastered this yet,  however, here are a few things that seem to be working:

1.     Sailing Sargo is pretty physical – we don’t have any power winches.  So anytime, we have to raise the main sail, pull out or in the jib or genoa, raise the dinghy on the davits, raise and lower the center board– we have to crank a winch. This alone isn’t enough to keep us fit – but it certainly helps! Whenever I get tired from winching and wish for an electric winch – I think to myself – “you used to PAY for a workout like this.” 

2.     Body weight type exercises are abundant on Sargo! If we write a WOD – “workout of the day” on our white board then Sargo crew members are WAY more likely to do it!  On our sail from Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island to Islesboro, Maine – Bjorn and I wrote up the following on the white board: 200 air squats, 100 sit ups, 50 pull ups, 50 push ups, 50 tricep dips. We had all day to complete them and we just did a set here and there when the mood struck us and pretty soon we had done them all. 

3.     Perhaps one of the best workouts we did so far this trip was a family beach workout on Roque Island.  That beach is a mile long and it made us feel like we were already in the Bahamas.  We all walked to the far end of the beach and all the way back we just called out an exercise – for example – lunges – and we would all do lunges back in the direction of our dinghy and towels.  Then at any point anyone could call out a new exercise – Skipping ------ burpees ------ run down to the water ------- run in the water ------ inch worms, and so on until we covered the length of the beach.  It was fun and playful!

4.    We all have step counters of one sort or another.  So when we are in a new place – we’ll post a step count challenge to help motive us all to take in the new sites by foot.  The kids, especially Toren, likes to compete in who can do the most steps.  He’s become pretty sneaky with his tactics however, by sabotaging my step count by offering me a walking stick that I use on the same hand where my watch is….so my steps don’t register! 

 Overall the three things that seems to help me the most are : Writing it down, making it fun, including the whole family.  I certainly won’t be winning any triathlons with my new training plan.  But I’m hoping it’s enough to keep the crazy away – and that I beat the odds my friends are wagering. Not that it’s a competition or anything!