4 Do-Anywhere Exercises

Cruising can be a physically demanding lifestyle. You’re constantly in motion from the waves and water. Daily activities like laundry and grocery shopping involve more planning and forethought than on land. The space constraints make regular chores a tad acrobatic.

These physical challenges make a regular exercise routine on board even more important than one on land. In an ideal world, you’ll take what you do on land and modify it just a teeny bit to make it work for you on the boat. Practically speaking, boat workouts can be difficult. There’s that movement I just mentioned, throwing your balance off in unexpected ways. That space limitation? You might not be able to jump, or even stretch your arms over your head, or cover large amounts of ground during a cardio session.

What can you do? Here are 4 exercises, with modifications for space and wave action, you can do anywhere. Start a routine you can get comfortable with now!

Level changes. Sit down, stand up, get to the floor, get back up, sit back down, stand back up. Do this 10 times and you’ll likely be out of breath! Space limitation? No problem! There’s no sprawling or reaching here. Boat rocking? Help yourself out by using a hand to stabilize.

Leg lifts. Lying on your back, with your hands flat under your tailbone and your belly button pressed into the floor under you (this helps you keep your core tight), lift your legs toward the ceiling then slowly (count to 10!) lower your legs together toward the floor. Stop when your back starts to come up off the floor. Raise your legs up and repeat. Space limitation? Don’t lift your legs up as high, or do this on the foredeck or side deck. Boat rocking? It might be more challenging to stay flat on your back, but there is no concern about falling since you’re already on the ground.

Knee raises. Essentially marching in place, this exercise works your legs, your balance, and, sped up, can make you sweat. Standing straight, bring one knee up as high as you can before lowering it and raising the other one. Keep your back straight (pressing your belly button to your spine is a good way to think about this) and aim to bring your knee directly up in front of you as opposed to out to the side. Do this 50 times each side! Space limitation? Orient yourself to have the space you need for your knees to come up straight. If you can’t stand up inside the boat, do this in the cockpit! Boat rocking? One hand for your balance. Do this sitting down (make sure your back is straight!)

Plank to pike. This is another exercise that is deceptively challenging when repeated a few times. It works a lot of muscles in a small amount of space, so it’s ideal for life anywhere you happen to be. Start on your belly on the ground, hands under your shoulders. Slowly push up into a plank position (like you’re about to do a pushup) and then pretend you’re a giant puppet with someone pulling your hip up to the ceiling. Slowly lower back down to plank position and repeat. You will find your shoulders stretch back behind your hands when you’re piked up but should be back in position over your hands when you go back to plank. Space limitation? This one should be okay wherever you are, unless you try to do it under a table. Maybe that’s your workout space? Boat rocking? Spread your feet and hands farther apart, to provide a wider point of balance. Or maybe you should do this under the table and brace your butt on the underside to keep you stable.

Pike on the side deck, on a windless day on the Chesapeake.

Pike on the side deck, on a windless day on the Chesapeake.