Bruises, callouses. aches and pains are all par for the course when it comes to paddling but so is one other thing – you will get fit. Not only does your overall fitness and stamina improve considerably with the right amount of practice but you will also see noticeable changes in your body shape. You may find yourself flexing in front of the bathroom mirror at your new-found muscles or comparing biceps with the rest of your crew. I know this for a fact as us Novice B girls have done it on more than one occasion. Normally after a couple of drinks. I hope they don’t mind me admitting it…
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t turn Schwarzenegger-esque overnight but you do start to see changes in your physique that are definitely caused by paddling.
Your shoulders and arms change a lot. When you’ve been paddling for a few years I’m sure you get used to it but, being in my first season, I am still delighted with the new definition in my shoulders that was never there before. Your lats, shoulder blades, biceps and forearms also feel stronger than ever. When comparing the benefits of paddling as a workout to the other girls we all confess to feeling ourselves up and loving the new definition in our upper bodies. We’ll be arm wrestling next, just you wait!
A combination of ab workouts, swimming and time in the canoe really helps to shape your stomach and strengthen your core. Lower back pain (if you suffer from it) can be eased or even prevented by your new core strength. See! The benefits of this sport are endless. A combination of Clif bars, plate lunch and loads of beer after a regatta can also help to shape your physique but these reports are as yet unconfirmed. I’m willing to bank that they help.
It’s not only your upper body that benefits. You get a really good full-body workout in the canoe and I was surprised how much my bum and legs ached after the first few times I tried it. They still do ache actually, especially after long-distance pieces.
The cardiovascular aspect of paddling is also superb, especially in sprint races. When we first started training for this my heart would feel like it was going to burst through my chest but the more practice I got, the easier it became. Week by week you improve and you start to notice that it’s easier to breathe, your heart isn’t hammering away and your stamina gets better and better. The feeling that you are going to vomit starts to recede as the weeks pass as well. Which is nice.
As the endorphins pump around your body your worries disappear, a smile spreads across your face and you have fun with your team-mates – so paddling is good for your brain as well.
As for weight loss, paddling can definitely help. Of course, it depends what else you do outside of the boat but as part of a healthy lifestyle it can produce amazing results. Take Mardy RayRay for example. Mardy is an inspiration to us all – a dedicated paddler (who also follows a balanced diet and works out in the gym) he has lost over 130 pounds over the last year. A phenomenal achievement. There will be more from Mardy on here shortly, as he’s agreed to be interviewed about his weight loss. But seriously, he’s amazing. Imua Mardy!
Ladies – you may drop dress sizes and you will probably drop bra sizes too. I can’t speak for everyone but I have definitely noticed that my size has decreased a lot since I started paddling. Bras that used to fit are now way too big. But I guess it’s part of toning up everywhere, it would be nice if your bust stayed the same but hey – you can’t have it all.
I thought it might make interesting reading to talk about the workout side of paddling on here, especially as a couple of fitness websites have linked and sent me traffic over the last few weeks. Men – if you have a spare couple of minutes I’d like to hear how paddling affects you and what changes you’ve seen in your fitness since you started. Ladies – I’d love to hear from you too, about your experiences, your injuries (hopefully not too many of these) and well, any agreements or disagreements about things I’ve mentioned in this blog.
Mahalo again for visiting, Laura.