Here’s some good news for anyone looking to lose a few pounds: Getting fit for summer doesn’t have to mean going into an air-conditioned gym, running on a treadmill surrounded by strangers, and wishing you had something to look at other than a TV screen.
Today’s watersports aren’t the old-fashioned water skis that your parents and grandparents used to play with behind a boat. Today, boats have stowage areas to carry all kinds of toys for water activities—including some that simulate what you’re doing at the gym, only you get to be out in the fresh air and sunshine with much, much better views.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
For starters, Hobie makes a product called the Mirage Eclipse. It’s a board, like a paddleboard, with a tall handle that helps the rider stand up and balance. The board also has built-in, elliptical-type steps. The Mirage Eclipse moves across the water as the rider pumps the steps, using the handlebar to steer.
True fact: The guy who invented the Mirage Eclipse says he got the idea after watching his family struggle with boards that required them to stand and keep their own balance while holding a long paddle. He wanted to give them an easier way to get some exercise and have fun. That’s why the toy is a good one for beginners and experienced riders alike.
There’s another great leg workout to be had while wakesurfing, which is a sport that can be done behind certain kinds of boats without the need to hold onto a rope. The boats are built or outfitted in a way that lets them generate a great surfing wave really close to the boat itself. The person in the water behind the boat holds a rope and stands on the wakesurf board as the boat takes off, and then lets go of the rope, with the ability to ride the “everlasting wave” that the boat creates.
Yet another great water toy for taking your summer workout out of the gym and into the sunshine is the Hydrofoiler XE-1, which is a brand-new product from Manta5 that is expected to start shipping to customers at the end of 2019.
The Hydrofoiler XE-1 is basically a bicycle that rides on foils, which are kind of like skis attached at the bottom, where a regular bicycle’s wheels would be. The foils help to lift the bike up and on top of the water, reducing resistance so the rider can pedal and move. There’s even a built-in electric motor, for riders who want a little boost of power out there.
Last but not least, there is dinghy sailing, which is a whole-body workout for the muscles and the mind. These small boats are ideal for beginners and meant to be sailed by just one or two people—and even by children.
Unlike more complex sailboats, which can be intimidating to people who are new to boating, these types of sailboats are small and have just one sail, which means just one rope that you have to keep track of, so you can control the sail. Your other hand is on the tiller, which is basically a handle attached to the rudder that steers the boat from the back. You sit on one side of the boat, with one hand on the tiller and the other on the rope that controls the sail, and you’re off.
Beginners can usually master the basics inside of a half-hour; once you feel comfortable catching some bigger wind, you’ll feel the exercise in your core as you fly across the water, maintaining the boat’s balance at faster speeds.
The big-picture point is this: Getting in shape for summer can be a lot more fun than traipsing into a building full of machines, displays and strangers. Watersports are a terrific exercise alternative for the summer, especially if you want to escape screens and commune more with nature.