sailor

Are You Fit Enough to Be a Sailor?

Racing boats requires strength, balance, and coordination.

Sailing seems like a peaceful pursuit, but it demands a lot from the body. Adjusting the sails and steering the boat require dynamic movements from a wide range of muscle groups. “You’re constantly moving in response to the wind and waves,” says Jonathan Beery, 31, a competitive sailor and owner of Next Level Watersports, a kiteboarding business based in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Beery races two different types of sailboats: keelboats and dinghies. With keelboats, a several-thousand-pound flat blade prevents it from tipping over. “These boats are usually larger, so the loads are greater,” he says. “This requires brute force and teamwork to hoist and lower the sails.” 

With dinghies, the sailor’s bodyweight keeps the boat flat: You hook your feet beneath a nylon strap and then “hike out,” or lean back so that your entire body from knees up is about six inches above the water. “Hiking out is grueling,” says Beery. “You’re engaging your chest, abdomen, biceps, and triceps to maneuver and steer the boat over each wave, sometimes for hours at a time.”

During his workouts, Beery focuses on building strength, especially in his core and back, while challenging his balance. Ahead of Nantucket Race Week (August 11 to 19) Beery shared three moves from his routine with Furthermore. Try them and you’ll reap the fitness benefits both on the water and on dry land.    

BOSU Squat with Medicine Ball Twist
“Squats on an unstable surface using weights strengthen my muscles, while I simultaneously make dynamic micro-adjustments required for balancing on a boat,” says Beery.

How to do it
: Standing on the flat side of a BOSU ball, hold a medicine ball in front of your chest with straight arms. Slowly lower into a squat, rotating to the left to bring the medicine ball to the outside of your left knee. As you press up, bring the medicine ball diagonally across your body over your right shoulder. Bring the ball back to center and repeat on the other side. 

Seated Medicine Ball Twist
Beery incorporates this core-strengthening move into a routine that also includes crunches, planks, side planks, leg lifts, and sit-ups on a balance ball.

How to do it: Holding the medicine ball, sit on the ground with knees bent. Brace your core as you lower your back to a 45-degree angle and lift your feet off the ground. Rotate your torso to the left and tap the ball to the outside of your left hip. Rotate and tap the ball on the right side. Let go of the ball and return to center. Extend your legs and stretch your arms overhead. Slowly lower your hands and feet until they’re a few inches above the floor. Pick up the medicine ball and return to the starting position. Repeat.

Push-up with Opposite Arm and Leg Raise
You use your core and back to trim the sail, or pull it in so that it’s aligned with the wind, one of the main components of sailing. This move targets those muscles. 

How to do it: Start in a push-up position, with your core engaged and hands beneath shoulders. As you extend your left arm forward and parallel to the ground, lift your right foot off the ground. Hold for one to two seconds. Return to the starting position, and do a push-up. Repeat the sequence on the other side.