With the season coming to a close, there’s a general feeling of it being time to re-set, to take a breath and see where you are and where you need to go from here. While the main focus for many will undoubtedly be what the next step in their career is, for many people it’s also time to get back to healthy habits that short turnarounds and hectic schedules have left no room for.
While busy seasons with prolonged periods on your feet can be tough physically and mentally, they are not the same as a dedicated workout programme, and with the charters behind you, now is the time to set some goals, both for your mind and body.
Set realistic goals.
Setting goals in fitness is no different to setting realistic targets in life, such as working towards your officer of the watch. There’s often an urge to throw yourself into the process at 100 miles per hour, but fitness, just like your career, is a long game. Slow, steady progress is healthier and more effective than pushing yourself to extremes and less likely to result in injury or failure. Make a plan that you know you can stick to.
Choose an approach that works for you.
What fitness do you actually enjoy? While boot camps are popular, the format isn’t for everyone. Running is an easy option, requiring no outlay other than some good shoes, but if you have issues with your joints it may not be ideal. If you’re going to be in port for a while joining a local gym can be a great option, or perhaps combining different activities and classes. If you can get a few crew members together to join in, not only will it encourage you on those days when you may not have enough of your own motivation, it’s also a great way to team build. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that you enjoy – sticking with a fitness habit is much easier if you’re looking forward to what you’re doing, rather than just focussing on the results. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Most gyms will offer month by month membership, and most classes, including bootcamps, will allow you to pay for one class before committing to a longer programme. Shape your fitness programme to your life, not the other way around.
Make it a habit.
If you intend to work out three days a week, which is an excellent and sustainable starting point, make sure you do. Don’t make excuses. Push yourself to complete those three days unless illness or injury stop you. It may seem hard at first, but by cultivating the mindset that this is now part of your routine, before long it will become just that. It’s tempting to throw yourself into an intensive programme and keep pushing no matter what – the classic “no pain, no gain” mentality – but that’s a good way to end up injured and unable to train for extended periods. Muscle soreness is inevitable, but pain and injury is not. Rest days are a vital part of training, as the body needs time to recover. It’s often advisable to start with a one day on, one day off approach and build up until you’re training at the level that’s right for you. Make sure you have a minimum of one rest day a week and listen to your body.
In the same way you have a plan for your career that includes when you intend to take courses, plan ahead with suitable fitness programs to follow during both down time and once you are back into the season. While finding time for workouts can be challenging both in terms of time and facilities once the season is underway, there are ways to squeeze fitness into your day. You may be lucky enough to have a gym aboard that is available to crew, but if not there are ways to improvise. You could take ten minutes every morning to do squats, push-ups and planks in your cabin or on the foredeck, or there may be time to get ashore for a walk or run. It may not be the workouts you’re used to, but by sneaking in little bits of exercise you’ll retain the habit of fitness and make it a natural part of your life. Beyond just the physical aspects, it’s also worth remembering that a healthy body will help you to maintain a healthy mind, manage your emotions better, and to feel good about yourself.
While you’re planning your fitness goals for both the quiet season and the year to come, don’t forget to check in with your career path at the same time. At Impact Crew we offer individualised coaching to support you on your leadership journey, on board and ashore. Drop us a line to discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.
Kim Watt for Impact Crew
t: +44 (0)1425 614 419