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Get physical: your new summer exercise


The 4 summer sports your body will thank you for

AUSSIE WOMEN are dominating watersports around the world – from rower Kim Brennan and canoeist Jessica Fox adding to their haul of Olympic medals in Rio, to Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons topping the pro surf tour rankings and Shakira Westdorp claiming the world Stand Up Paddleboard title. It’s inspiring many of us to pick up a paddle or hop on a board, so, as we welcome the warmer weather, now’s the perfect time to give one (or all) of these a go.


When injury halted her hurdling career, Kim Brennan used rowing to maintain her fitness in hopes of returning to the track – and ended up becoming a single sculls champion. You needn’t be an athlete to try rowing, but you can certainly use it to build an athletic body.

“Rowing works out eight major muscle groups – hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, lats, core, biceps, triceps and shoulders,” says Ron Batt, Rowing Australia National Community Development and Coach Education Officer. “Your whole body gets a complete workout from the efficient, rhythmic motion of rowing.” As well as being a fantastic cardio workout and calorie burner, rowing is “great for joint health and flexibility and builds long, lean muscle mass,” says Ron.

How to supercharge your workout: As it’s an aerobic sport, Ron suggests swimming. Strength and core training will help too. Plus you can hop on the rower at the gym – it’s where Kim Brennan started!

C A N O E I N G / K A Y A K I N G

Like Kim, Olympic medallist Jessica Fox came to kayaking after an injury – a doctor recommended paddling to help heal a broken arm and she was hooked. Of course, the kinds of whitewater slalom courses she competes on are not for the faint of heart or weak of bicep, but you can choose the environment that best suits your abilities. Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that are great for improving cardio fitness, flexibility and strength – especially in the back, arms, shoulders and chest. And there are mental benefits – from the serenity of a peaceful paddle on calm waterways or from the rush of tackling tougher challenges, like surf kayaking or sprint racing.

How to supercharge your workout: The torso is the paddler’s powerhouse, so core exercises like planks are essential.

Doutzen Kroes Doutzen Kroes paddleboarding in Ibiza, Spain. Photo by Iconic/GC Images via Getty.


Surfing is one of the most physically demanding – and rewarding – sports around. All that paddling and balancing are great for building cardio fitness, shoulder, back, leg and core strength. But there are also great mental and social benefits. Surfers describe feelings of euphoria – known as the “stoke” – from catching a wave. “Blue Gym” therapy, which involves exercising in natural aquatic environments, has helped sufferers of anxiety, depression and even PTSD. And the rise of female pros has seen an increase in female surf schools, “making it a great way to socialise and meet new friends,” says Joanna Parsonage, Strength and Conditioning PhD Scholar, Surfing Australia High Performance Centre. How to supercharge your workout: Joanna recommends pull-ups and push-ups to boost paddle fitness, core strength exercises for better balance and yoga for developing hip and shoulder mobility.

S T A N D U P  P A D D L E B O A R D I N G ( S U P )

It seems like everyone from Alessandra Ambrosio to Julia Roberts has been seen out and about on a paddleboard recently – and who can forget Katy Perry with an au naturel Orlando Bloom? “It’s the fastest growing sport in the world!” says SUP instructor Karen Leo, “It’s for everyone – all walks of life, the young and the young at heart.”

A cross between canoeing and surfing, SUP uses a surf-style board and a long paddle. It’s low impact and, because it’s gentle on the muscles and joints, it’s great for post-injury rehab. But it still provides a full body workout and is especially good for the abs, butts and thighs says Karen. It improves balance and builds strength and you can up the cardio quotient by paddling harder.

How to supercharge your workout: For “a total mind, body and soul workout, add yoga,” says Karen. “The ocean is your gym, the board is your yoga mat and, once you’re on it, you leave the worldly worries behind.” For SUP Yoga, she recommends “any activity that requires good balance – aerial yoga, hiking, rock climbing, surfing, etc.”

Words by Mary Kiley

G E T  T H E  G E A R


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