September is such a bittersweet month in the water sports world. You’ve spent all summer honing your skills, your arsenal of tricks has expanded, and you finally feel like showing off a little behind the boat. For most of us, September represents the pinnacle of our riding season. But there’s no escaping the fact that the temperature is about to drop and you’ll soon be trading in your life vest for a trench coat. You might even feel like the impending winter break will set you back by months! But it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of great ways to stay motivated and keep fit during the off-season.
Wakeboarding and waterskiing make for an amazing cardio workout. Even just 15 minutes behind the boat can leave you pretty winded. So when the boat isn’t available, there is nothing like a good run to keep your lungs and joints in check.
The benefits from running translate very nicely to water sports. One far-reaching advantage comes from how running teaches you to control your breathing. Proper breath control can help you store your energy, relax your muscles, and prevent that instinctual breath-hold that comes when going airborne. Aside from the superior cardiovascular advantages, running will keep your legs and joints ready for the high impact landings that will be had in the next wakeboard season. Therefore, it is highly recommended to start a weekly running routine during your off-season. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch.
If you can’t beat winter, embrace it. The same principles of control for wakeboarding and waterskiing can be applied to snowboarding and snow skiing respectively. If you are new to winter sports, there can be a bit of a learning curve going from the water to the snow.
However, with some guidance and practice you’ll quickly be carving the mountain with the same skill you bring to the water. When starting out, be prepared for a lot of falling, but after you master the basics, nothing will keep you more motivated in the winter time.
3. Get / Make a Balance Board
The pain of an involuntary body slam from catching an edge in the water is enough to make you wish you had catlike balance. If you want to fix faulty feet, a balance board will work wonders for your equilibrium. There are plenty of commercial options available, but a three foot length of plywood on a four inch PVC pipe can also get the job done.
Be sure to keep some padding around you when getting used to the nuances of shifting your weight from one foot to the other, because even a slight overcompensation can have you on the floor in a second. Remember though, the goal with this exercise is to prevent that from happening. If you can master the balance board, you will feel a greater sense of control and ease on the water.
4. Hit the Trampoline
For wakeboarders, a trampoline is a must! There is nothing more effective than a trampoline to help you practice and master your favorite aerial maneuvers. The greatest advantage to using a trampoline is the sense of orientation it gives you in the air. Bounce after bounce, you are continually propelled higher and higher, allowing you to align your equilibrium and feel more comfortable while airborne.
For an even greater simulation, you can tie a tow rope to a tree (from far away) and hold the handle while practicing new tricks. Just a word of warning -- take it slow -- you can easily hurt yourself on a trampoline, especially when going upside down. Therefore, you should use safe trampoline techniques, and practice only when there are other people around.
5. Head South and Get Back in the Water
Florida is like Mecca for water sports -- tons of cable parks, myriads of placid lakes and no shortage of professionals to train with. In fact, much like Florida, about one fifth of the United States stays above 70 degrees almost all year long, and a change of landscape may be just the thing you need to get inspired and try new maneuvers. So if all else fails and you just can’t seem to scratch your water sports itch during the winter, then make like the birds and migrate south.
Granted, there are other obvious ways to keep fit during the off-season like lifting weights and gluing yourself to the rowing machine, and those routines will definitely help you stay fit. However, you work a very specific set of muscles when you’re being towed behind the boat, and traditional gym exercises don’t always keep those muscles trained. Therefore, it’s vital that you make the most of your off-season and craft your workout sessions to stay tuned up for the next year.