Friday, February 13, 2009

First Look: Sailing Fitness DVD by Harry Legum

Since we first kicked it out on our Weekly Product Update, people have been coming into the shop asking about Harry Legum's "Sailing Fitness - Opti's to the America's Cup" Workout DVD. And since we're slaves to giving the people what they want, I sat down and watched the whole DVD (on company time, of course).

First things first -- it's waaaaay overdue that a good sailing-specific workout DVD has finally been produced. Sailing is terrible on the body; crazy body contortions with periods of zero movement transitioning to a flat out sprint. It's a wonder that more people don't show up to regatta parties in pure agony. At 26, I'm embarrassed to say that I feel more tweaks, pulls and strains these days -- 3+ day regattas definitely take their toll for a day or two afterwards.

Let's get into the DVD. After a quick introduction, the DVD jumps into something that I really like, profiling important exercises and targeting muscle groups for each position on a big boat. The DVD goes through information for the bow, mast, trimmers & pit, grinders and helm/tactician. And, like you, I was shocked to learn that exercises for the helm actually go well beyond strengthening the wrist to write those checks.

From there, the DVD jumps into important exercises and muscle groups for Single-Handed Dinghies. Appropriately, this was the longest "chapter" of the DVD because of the strenuous nature of single-handed sailing. This section features a number of clips of Laser Radial Gold Medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe, performing a slew of different exercises. Trust me when I tell you this: assuming that this DVD is indicative of her exercise routine, it's pretty easy to see why Anna kicks everyone around the race course. Well, that and she's probably forgotten more about racing than I've ever known...

Naturally, the next step is Double-Handed Dinghies -- this was a good section, playing off of the Single-Handed dinghy section and providing extra exercises for sailors that are going to be out on the trap all day.

As an Opti coach, I was particularly interested in seeing what the Jr. Sailing section of the DVD had to offer. When you're dealing with younger sailors, you have to walk a fine line -- you can't push too hard and their bodies aren't ready for serious workouts. Baseball gets a lot of attention for this, especially with kids who are pitchers. While this section was a little light in content, it touched on the need for a low impact (jumping jacks, wall sits, etc.) workout while keeping a fun atmosphere.

The next two sections profiled team exercises, great for college and high school teams. Good stuff with some interesting variations on workouts that I hadn't seen before.

And interesting section was for cruisers -- while they perform maneuvers at a slower rate of speed most of the time, they still need to address certain areas. So let Mom and Dad know that you care by sending them this DVD!

Final Verdict:
""Sailing Fitness - Opti's to the America's Cup" gets a B from me.

The production value is very good -- it was put together by the folks over at T2P Productions and it's not surprising that this is well done.

The content was okay. There's little doubt that Harry Legum knows what he talking about and is one of the best trainers out there for sailors. What's unfortunate is the lack of a detailed workout plan -- granted, if he did that, he doesn't have a job.

I was asked if this boiled down to a long commercial for Annapolis Sailing Fitness -- mostly no, but a little yes. It has good content and exposes you to some great sailing specific exercises but it seems to fall just short of the mark of being a top notch resource, leaving you with the need to seek out further help. Where can you get that help??? You know where I'm going with this...

Because of the lack of detail, I'd personally be cautious about just jumping in and getting to it without a little instruction from a trainer. The thing about working out is that it's only effective when it's done correctly -- do it incorrectly and you can mess yourself up something fierce, which is always a concern for me since I'm dainty and fragile.

At the end of the day, my impression is that this boils down to a rough guide of sailing related exercises but it lacks the proper detail to safely develop a full routine. It's also almost fully tailored to having the resources of a full gym at your disposal. I would have loved to see two DVD's -- one for big boats and one for small boats with more detail on the workouts.

It's great that a DVD like this was made and I hope that it's just the beginning in a move towards increased awareness about sailing fitness.

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