Summer’s in full swing, which means we get to beat the heat by enjoying time on and by the water. Activities by the lake, pool, beach and ocean are not just fun (and refreshing!) but also are challenging for your balance, as you are on an unstable surface. Chelsea Roller, SUP yoga expert for West Marine, has a few suggestions for the best core exercises to prepare you for some of the more challenging watersports to try out this season.
Talk about needing a strong base and foundation to stay upright! Waterskiing requires a tremendous amount of core strength, so she recommends using resistance bands with simple crunches to take the basic sit-up up a notch. If you have the longer bands with handles, wrap them around your feet and pull yourself up using the bands. If you really need a challenge, try wrapping a band smaller circle band around your shins as you hold a yoga “boat pose.” These band exercises will get you ready to tow behind that boat.
Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)
Chelsea’s favorite activity on the water. “The best exercise I can suggest to prep for this is the plank position,” she says. “Start out either on your forearms and your knees/skins on the floor and maintaining a flat back the whole time if you are a beginner. For intermediate level balance on your hands and toes with your feet together and making sure to keep you back flat by drawing the navel to the spine and squeezing your glutes in.”
For advanced exercisers, balance on your forearms and toes and maintain a flat back the whole time. Want to try for an even more challenging version? Balance with your elbows and toes on the floor while you holding your ear lobes with your fingertips the whole time — whoo boy! Start with 4 counts 30 seconds each and work up to two minutes straight.”
Adding yoga to the SUP experience will really challenge your balance and coordination. So to make sure you remain on the board, try exercises that are balanced on one leg at a time, such as a single-leg squat. Star with your hands on your hips. Draw one knee up at a right angle and squat as low as you can on the opposite leg for two counts of eight on each leg. Need a bigger challenge? Try doing this with your eyes closed.
Your basic balance ball will help you train your core in so many ways that will build your strength and balance. Chelsea really like jack-knives on the ball. You start in the push-up position with the ball under your legs. The lower the ball is down your leg the tougher this will be to manage. Draw your knees into your chest while pulling in your navel to the spine on the exhale. Inhale and take it back to push-up position. Do two sets of eight each workout session.
Paddling in a kayak is the closest we get to being in the water outside of swimming. The seated position and use of the paddle requires core and upper-body strength. For an appropriate exercise, she recommends holding a paddle over head as you step up a bench. You will work that core while increasing your strength and balance. Try four sets for 20 seconds each.
What’s your favorite water activity? —Margo