Get Yourself Fit!
“I'm active! Of course I am; I walk the dog three times a week & climb the stairs every day. Of course I'm fit enough to kayak, after all it's only kayaking. How hard can it be?”
Pretty damn hard when you can'to get back on to your big, stable sit-on-top or even worse, you're unable to sit upright for lack of any strength in your core (abdominal muscles). And then there's that big ‘belly ….
As coaches, we regularly teach new entrants to our sport & the levels of obesity, unfitness, lack of strength, lack of motivation & self-belief is increasing year on year. And that's just among the men; women & children have followed the same downward trend over the past seventeen years we have operated on the east coast. So why do we need to be 'fit' for an activity as simple & easy as kayaking?
In the first instance, kayaking is neither simple nor easy, particularly in tidal waters. Of course, it can be if you are well trained, well practiced, equipped & prepared physically & mentally. But many simply don't bother.
For those who do bother to get trained, they rely entirely on the training course to keep them safe. They disregard the need to get out on the water & paddle regularly, practicing their new found paddle strokes & recoveries in deep, tidal water. All while ensuring they are properly dressed (layered), fed & watered & prepared for a sudden change in sea conditions & any eventuality that may result with the right attitude, knowledge & equipment. Instead, they opt for course after course, learning little & cementing nothing simply because they don't PRACTICE.
Kayaking safely requires hours of practicing paddle strokes & recoveries, beginning in the shallows in a safe environment, developing your ability to extend your skills into deep water & eventually, deep, moving water. And building your confidence & experience alongside your skills.
And what about fitness? Kayakers may sit in/on their kayak for hours at a time. The position is not a natural seated position for we homo sapiens. Acustom your muscles & in particular, your core (stomach) muscles by watching television for a couple of hours, seated on your floor in the frog (seated) position you'll need for your kayak. Acclimate & prepare your body. Better still, eat less & exercise your body; burn more calories than you consume & that belly will reduce significantly. Combined with stronger stomach muscles, you'll be able to sit upright in your kayak & paddle efficiently over long distances, extending your adventures & fun.
As for your recoveries, You need to be able to climb out of a swimming pool with ease, unaided by stairs, ladders or anyone outside the pool. If you can't, then get fit until you can. This is the closest action I can relate to doing your recovery in deep water, particularly on a sit-on-top kayak. For decked kayaks, you'll need the added flexibility in your groin & hamstring muscles to lift your leg into your cockpit for a good 'heel-hook'. So get to a yoga or pilates class or just follow a YouTube video and get STRETCHING!
That’s right peeps, EXERCISE!! That means EFFORT! That means SWEAT & some DISCOMFORT!
If you're not willing to put in the commitment & effort required, then don’t bother; stay home & watch telly (no fitness required). But of course, don't expect others to risk their lives to recover you when you're in trouble. Take responsibility for yourself & get fit for your sport.
We're happy to take your money all day for courses but this lesson is FREE of charge. It's a good lesson that will save you a lot of money too. Get fit to practice the skills we teach you & your paddling ability will extend very quickly, enabling you to paddle further in more demanding conditions & visit places others don't & enjoy experiences few ever have!
Get yourself fit;
Take long walks to build your stamina.
Develop flexibility in your hips & hamstrings.
Develop upper body strength in your hand grip, shoulders & core stomach muscles.
Switch on & get motivated! Now get to it!
Since surfing with the pros as a kid in Durban South Africa on my hollow 12ft barge & getting absolutely trashed, I was hooked on sea paddling. Over a period of forty-two years I’ve surfed, white watered & sea kayaked in locations around the world. I've guided as a full-time professional for the past eighteen years & my journey continues.