It isn't every vacation we get to stay at a beach resort with a structured fitness program, but getting a condo, hotel/motel, or friend or family invite to stay near a beach doesn't mean there aren't ways to keep the legs ski-fit and to get the heart pumping. Here's how to stay fit for skiing on a beach vacation.
Nearby Resort Clubs and Gyms
Many full service beach resorts offer short-term memberships to their spa/wellness and fitness facilities, so if you're on vacation near a resort with fitness programs, check out their rates and be sure to inquire about discounts for vacationers. Along the same lines, many local gyms in resort areas realize skiers and other health conscious vacationers want to stay fit and will offer short-term memberships or weekly rates for vacationers. Additionally, many yoga and pilates studios offer short-term memberships or visitor's rates for vacationers.If you belong to a national gym chain back home, such as the YMCA or a Gold's Gym, see if you can use the affiliate near your vacation spot for a minimal fee, but be sure to bring proof of your home membership with you as membership data is not always universal.
Walk/Run in the Sand
If you have access to sand and water, you are in nature's gym and can get a great workout on your own. Walking or running in sand makes you find some of those big and little muscles in your legs, feet and ankles that you forgot about since the last time you went skiing.
What I found to be the best sand workout is barefoot walking, or running, starting out in the hard wet sand just out of the surf, then up in the deep sand. I like to start with about a 1/4 mile or so on the hard sand then half that in the deep sand, alternating back and forth.
As your feet and muscles start getting use to this routine you can increase the distances to your liking. Don't overdo it, especially the first couple of times, because as I said you will be waking up muscles that have been sleeping since last winter.
Do your Sand Walk/Run in the Morning
Depending on your regimen, do your walk or run in the morning. If this isn't an option, consider going out in the evening. Basically, don't push it in the afternoon or high sun time, as you can overheat quickly or become dehydrated without even realizing it.
Also, remember that high sun, and even clouded sun, can burn you badly if sweat washes off your UV protection. I know it's a big temptation to go out with as little cover as legal in the summer, but a loose, light shirt, preferably one with UV protection built-in, and a vented cap will prevent a sunburn that could ruin the rest of your vacation.
Biking for Fun and Staying Fit
A bike ride around resort beach towns is an enjoyable way to sight-see while still getting in a good workout. Most ocean and gulf beach resorts are in relatively flat areas - think Florida - so biking is an option for the entire family
If you rent a road bike, you'll be able get a good cardio workout by flying along on the flat roads. The flats won't overwork you like hills might, but you can get the heart ticking a little faster. Again, do the road racing in the morning when the temperatures aren't so intense, and save the evening hours for a family trip on street bikes, a great way to take a healthy tour around while checking out what your destination has to offer.
Practice Your Yoga On The Beach
If you regularly practice Yoga at home, just grab a towel and head to the beach. The ocean setting is a great opportunity for meditative Yoga, with morning sun overheard and waves whispering all around. Not only is morning yoga a rejuvenating way to start your day, there are less direct UV rays in the morning and you'll be much more comfortable than during the higher temperatures. However, I find an evening on the sand with the sun slowly dropping in the water is nature's best setting for a Restorative Yoga session.
Use Resistance Bands for Strength Tuning
I always throw a 1/2 inch and a 3/4 inch resistance band in my bag whether I'm traveling for skiing or heading to the beach. Both bands and a door attachment loop can fold up and fit in a pair of sneakers. I'm a big fan of resistance band strength training and muscle toning both at home and on the road.
Master Trainer and resistance band guru Dave Schmidt has offered us a ski specific video on About.com Skiing and has a ton of ski muscle related videos and tips at Resistance Band Training.com. On the road, all you need to keep your strength regime up to par are two bands - 1/2 and 3/4 inch - and Dave's tips and videos on a laptop.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)- A Great Core Workout
Stand Up Paddleboarding evolves from standing on a long surfboard with an extra long hand paddle and paddling along much as you would in a canoe or kayak. I say "evolves" from a long surfboard because Stand Up Paddleboarding has been refined to the point where some SUP boards I've seen on the Gulf of Mexico actually have a pointed bow and can move through the water very fast.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is definitely a great core workout - just watch a proficient paddler and you'll see the forces generated in the arm stroke and the ant-rotational core muscles holding back against that force. The first time you try it, you will feel it in your muscles after an hour, and be prepared for muscle stiffness the next day - guaranteed.
If the resort you are staying at doesn't offer SUPs, off-resort rentals are now pretty common at major beach resort towns and can be rented very reasonably by the hour or for the whole day. Most rental shops or kiosks offer an introductory lesson included in the rental price.
SUPs are popular in both landlocked lakes and ocean/gulf resort areas, and in order to stay safe while staying toned for skiing, there are two points to remember in whatever water you use an SUP are:
- Wear a Life Vest - The water may be calm when you start, but wind can pick up much faster than you can paddle. While you wear a long ankle tether that ties you the board - much the same as a powder cord for skiing in deep powder - if a wave throws you off the board, you want a life vest as a precaution in case you hit your head or can't get back up on the board.
- Lather Up with High UV Protection - You are on the water, standing up fully exposed not only to the sun above but to the reflection off the water. The air off the water may seem cool but the sun's rays still burn through that cool air.
As you can see there are many ways to keep your mojo working while on vacation. In fact, on a beach vacation you can get as close, if not closer, to flexing all your skiing leg muscles on the beach than in the city. Just don't forget you are on vacation and remember to slow down a little, close your eyes, stop, smell the salt air and dream about skiing.