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27th of April 2012

Easter weekend saw the annual round hayling island race take place, light winds but glorious sunshine kicked the season off in style for this, and the BSA racing that followed. [more]

No Need to Hit the Gym to Get Fit for Windsurfing!


All too often I chat to windsurfers on the beach who actually consider their windsurfing time 'fitness training' and when I ask them what else they do, will say they run a bit or go for the odd bike ride.


This is far from ideal!  


Windsurfing is a sport that needs us to be strong, flexible, powerful & (relatively) co-ordinated while also having stamina and balance.  We want to be able to recover quickly so we can get back out on the water as soon as we can, too. Simply jogging every now and then does not address many of the key fitness requirements of windsurfing, and can actually impede performance.  


And if you look around at many windsurfers who don't prioritise some form of fitness conditioning programme, you will see terrible posture - forward hunched shoulders are not a good look, and can cause other issues, including excessive neck and shoulder tension, even leading to headaches and other issues.


We also want to be as light as possible for our strength.  A consistent and effective training plan, alongside correct nutrition, can keep those extra inches at bay, so we get planing sooner, and of course a wetsuit with a harness is not the most forgiving outfit to be prancing around in, so it will mean you feel better about yourself on the beach too!   Jogging is actually NOT the best way to get lean. 


Of course, there is the added factor of unpredictability - if you are lucky enough to be 'on call' to the wind-gods or are a pro who actively follows the best conditions, or you live in Maui, then you might not have to worry about this so much, but for those of us who can't drop everything at the possibility of some wind and waves, it can mean gaps between sessions are infuriatingly long! If you are a fair weather sailor this can be even worse.


If you don't have a regular routine optimised to keep you in tip-top condition for windsurfing, or if you rely on windsurfing alone to keep you fit, you might have a shock in store after a long gap and find you can't sail as well or for very long, and may be feeling it for days afterwards. 


So a fitness programme that takes all that into account should be a part of every windsurfers weekly routine!


There will be more articles in future about the specific ways you can achieve this, going through programmes you can follow at home, with some of my favourite home and travel equipment, or even NO equipment whatsoever!  


Honestly - the gym with all it's machines is simply a distraction!  Stop looking at machines and start looking at your body and what it needs to be able to do.


This should come as no surprise to many of you, and a happy surprise to many others - as a windsurfer I am sure you aren't that fussed with being cooped up indoors, and it is often the reason windsurfers don't do regular training, as they perceive it to be something that has to be done in a gym, opting for the outdoor options of running or biking.


So we are half way there just by nature of loving being outdoors and free!  Training outside is awesome and can take your training into a whole new dimension, literally.  It frees you up from needing to 'get somewhere' to train, means you can just go to the park, beach or your garden, in your own time, and bust out a workout in whatever time you have available.


Not wasting time travelling is another plus of losing the 'gym' mentality.  Plus, the workouts that are most effective are not the ones that take the most time, you may be surprised to hear!  So the argument that you don't have time to get into a regular training is now just an excuse - I hear it all the time and it won't wash!  My fitness & fat loss bootcamps ( in Southampton are just three 45 minute sessions each week, and they not only boost fitness but offer a guarantee of losing at least a dress size (or equivalent for the guys!) in 4 weeks.   


Here are a couple of bodyweight training videos you can follow at home: 


The first part is a dynamic warm up and mobility sequence you can do daily to improve flexibility in the shoulders & hips, as well as fire up the core & glutes - vital for windsurfing and often totally overlooked!


Then we have a full body workout, comprised of 2 sections, that incorporates strength, endurance, power and dynamic flexibility, and that will burn fat too.




Follow that with this full body stretch and you have a complete workout that will take you on your way to better windsurfing and overall conditioning!


If you are in the gym, my advice would be to head to the free weights area, avoid the machines at all costs!  Use dumbbells or kettlebells if they are available.  Lower body exercises such as squats and lunges, upper body exercises such as push ups, chest presses using dumbbells (not machines or barbells) but making sure you prioritise rowing movements to balance out the forward posture that windsurfing pulls us into.  Chin ups are fantastic too.  Single muscle exercises are basically pointless - unless you are a bodybuilder or rehabbing a specific muscle.  Multi joint exercises are where it is at - our bodies move as a unit not as individual muscles.  


Also don't over do the 'core stability' tools!   A lot of Personal Trainers overuse them with clients in a bid to keep them entertained and in need of a trainer!  If you cannot do a perfect body weight squat (and it is actually very technical) then you have no place squatting on a BOSU.  Single leg work is more useful, single leg squats and deadlifts will create far more stability and balance than playing on a wobbly board.  Swiss balls are a great tool, but like everything, the equipment is just the tool.  


My home Personal Training studio consists of a selection of kettlebells, some dumbbells, Valslides (possibly my favourite bit of kit and perfect for travelling - more on those to come!), a TRX - another absolutely awesome tool, and there is even a TRX for surfing DVD you can get that is perfect for windsurfers.  I have a swiss ball, some medicine balls, skipping ropes, some steps, some battling ropes, a rowing machine (the least used bit of kit!), some boxing gloves and a chin up / dip bar.  Oh and some hula hoops I use to cheer my bootcampers up when I am giving them a super hard session! That is all I have for training clients as my job, for your own home gym you can get away with much, much less and as the videos show, you can get by with nothing at all.  


If you have any questions about any of this, there is a forum at the website: forum where you can post windsurfing related fitness (and fat loss!) questions, as well as benefit from the questions my bootcampers have been asking.  


I hope you enjoy the training vids and there will be more to come: bodyweight, kettlebell, TRX, Valslides, Swiss Balls and more!  Plus of course more on the nutrition side of things.  Let me know what you want to read about and I will write it!


Written By: Caroline Radway

Date of birth: 01/11/78

Years windsurfing: 13 - eek that makes me feel old and a very slow learner!

Windsurf Level: Wavesailing mostly, or the nearest I can get to it locally when we can't travel west! Still learning to forward - this is the year for sure!

Current location: Southampton

Local windsurf spot: Avon / Witterings, and Cornwall as much as poss!

Caroline runs a fitness coaching business that delivers Personal and Group Training to the people of Southampton who want to get fit, firm and feeling fantastic!  She is the creator of the revolutionary Fit Body Fix Bootcamps, that deliver a total transformation solution to busy people in need of efficient and effective fat loss and fitness conditioning, as well as nutritional coaching, goal getting and more.


Caroline gets all her windsurfing equipment from the lovely Bob at, whatever you are looking for, Bob can provide it, so check out the website or give him a call!  

If you have any questions for Caroline on fitness, nutrition, yoga or windsurfing related topics, head over to the forum at her Fit Body Fix member site:  There are loads of useful fitness and nutrition resources available, as Caroline is passionate about spreading the word on how best to achieve fitness, fat loss and boosted energy levels and vitality in today's fast paced world and you can get the answers you need to any nagging questions!