By Debra Bokur
Never-ending, sun-filled days are the perfect incentive to head outdoors and get some sand in your shoes. Trish Welch, Sea Island personal trainer and fitness instructor, says that working out with the challenge of shifting sands comes with a host of benefits that include improved strength, enhanced performance and better coordination.
“There are endless things you can do to sneak in a workout in the sand,” Welch says. “Try sprints, skipping or shuffling for the lower body. Add pushups, situps and planks (holding a pushup position with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows and toes), and you can hit a total body workout in a short amount of time. The beach is also a serene place to practice a little stretching while enjoying fresh sea air.”
While the gorgeous seaside setting might inspire some to feel as though it’s possible to leap tall sand dunes in a single bound à la some famous superheroes, it’s important to build up gradually to a full-blown sand routine. Another one of Sea Island’s personal trainers and fitness instructors, Daniel “Ox” Hocutt, heeds a bit of caution to avoid overdoing a workout.
“It’s a great way to work on stabilization and muscle recruitment,” Hocutt says. “It requires muscles to work harder—which is why walking in the sand is a popular training technique for sports like soccer and volleyball. You use your entire body when in the sand. Sprinting and simple plyometrics (resistance exercises that rapidly stretch and shorten muscles), like jumping up and down, can have a greater effect.”
Sand workouts can be safer on your joints than working out on a hard surface, but Hocutt suggests that it’s best to take it easy at first. Start by walking along the shore and progress from there, as pushing past your fitness level right away can result in shin splints and Achilles tendon problems. Both Hocutt and Welch advise trainees to wear shoes during a sand workout, despite the inclination to ditch footwear. Sand can hide debris that may not be easily visible while exercising.
Whether beach-goers walk or simply stretch in the sand, they enjoy the perk of working out to one of nature’s unbeatable soundtracks: the soothing rhythm of waves washing ashore.