As some of our followers might know, I , Josie, mother and wife on S/V Shawnigan, post a #shipshape blurb on occasion on our blog and more frequently post exercise poses on our instagram. I do this in hopes to inspire other sailors, not just women, to exercise on their boats as well.
The other week, I was invited to speak at a Women Who Sail event in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, in regards to fitness for sailors. I was one of 4 speakers in front of 40+ women. Diane and her daughter Maia spoke as recent circumnavigators! Our daughter Nina spoke about life changes as a kid going from city life to cruising to regards to friendships. And I had the pleasure for the opportunity to share my thoughts on boat fitness and for the potential to inspire this fantastic group of sailing women. My focus was on my background, the importance of staying fit for sailing and an example of a few poses.
I’m not sure how many of you were excited about P.E. when you were growing up, but I have to be honest here, I hated it! No offense Mr. Eryr if you’re reading this. It wasn’t the teacher. I just could not stand someone telling me to do 20 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, 8 laps around the field. In fact, I disliked it so much that I would sometimes fake being sick and (sorry Mom and Dad) even ditched a few classes. I was an active kid though. I was very competitive on the swim team, hiked, karate, skied/snowboarded, skateboard, and was always riding bikes around the neighborhoods.
It wasn’t until I broke my arm when I was 15 that I realized the importance of exercise in my life. That broken arm put me out from doing so many of the things I loved for over 3 months. No playing piano, no swimming, snowboarding, drumming in band, nothing. As a normal hormonal teenager and recent injured and inactive teenager, I saw my mood decline. That was when I first signed up for a weight training class with my parents. I hopped on board with the gym scene since there were so many options to get exercise and rebuild mobility in my arm. It was then that I saw my improvement in my overall mood and physical stamina. I even started working out before school, especially on test days in order to stay focused throughout the day. In college, you could find me with me flash cards on the elliptical studying for my nursing exams. I found something that worked and kept with it.
My physically active life went on and I found myself and Ellamae moving out of the “normal” house life and onto a 35′ boat with Christian and Nina. I maintained exercise off the boat by riding my bike to work each day and swimming, yoga, or occasional surf on my days off. We moved onto our current bigger 40′ monohull, had Taj and found our way to cutting the dock lines and sailing down to Mexico.
One of my biggest concerns about sailing around the world with my family was how I was going to maintain my fitness and the for the family. I know I’m not alone on that thought. Our Stevens 40 doesn’t offer much in regards to extra space for exercise, so we had to get creative on board. Our friend bought us a TRX, so that was helpful. I found places throughout the boat to do core exercises, but I had to get creative about it. Actually, I really enjoy doing some of my exercises on night watch. It helps me stay awake and keeps me alert. For our cardio based exercise, that usually comes in the form of surfing, swimming, and power yoga when we are anchored somewhere and not underway.
Christian and I both value the importance of exercise. So we make sure that we both fit it in to our days. It helps with our parenting, our marital relationship and our sailing longevity. If either of us slack of, our mood becomes a little short, parenting and homeschooling becomes harder and life just isn’t as smooth. Not only that, but our physical strength is important to us, especially our core. We’ve noticed after 32(ish) that as soon as we let our core strength go, we run in to back problems. The last thing you want while out sailing is a hurt back.
It is extremely important to be able to act quick and with agility on your boat. Whether you need to make short tacks up the windy channel, hoisting sails, pulling up anchors, to, knock on wood, performing a “man overboard”, your core strength matters most. All the other strength comes with “the job”.
I am not a certified trainer, or certified TRX trainer. I get most of my ideas from my family’s Crossfit Gym in Bishop, so I am happy to give credit and gratitude to them. I hope my #shipshape gives you ideas and inspiration. If you are a cruiser and in my area I can come show you some exercise specific to your boat, “trade for coconuts “. Here are a few poses that I demonstrated during the Women Who Sail speech and a short video from last year.
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