Author: Amy Gatlin
Working out and getting in shape doesn’t always have to mean going to the gym. Fitness, both inside of a gym and outside of a gym, can be fun. In fact, making fitness fun is the best way to ensure you are staying committed to your workout!
Throughout the years, I’ve realized the importance of finding a hobby that keeps me active. When I find a hobby that keeps me active, I inadvertently find myself getting into better shape while having fun. It’s a win-win situation; the hobby helps me stay in shape and better my health, but I also want to get into better shape to become better at the hobby.
Wakeboarding and wake surfing are both physically demanding sports. You need to be in great shape, in order to perform to the best of your ability. Not only do water sports require you to be in great physical shape, but they also help you get into shape while participating. Wakeboarding requires whole-body strength. You have to have good grip strength to hold onto the rope, arm strength to keep the handle close to your body, back strength for good posture while cutting towards the wake, and core strength for good technique and form. You have to have leg, ankle, and calf strength for blasting off of the wake, maintaining control of the board, and absorbing the impact of large jumps and tricks without injuring the knees. Wakeboarding and surfing also require, and build, cardiovascular endurance. It’s important to be able to maximize your time on the water, especially when the riding conditions are good; you have to build stamina in order to optimize the time. As your progress through skills, your whole body strength will continue to build, without feeling like you are getting a workout, because you are having fun.
One of the greatest things about wakeboarding and surfing is what they can do for your mental health and fitness. For Kirby, being out on the water is calming. There is something about being out in nature, listening to the sounds of the water, and feeling the sun’s energy radiate down. Wakeboarding and surfing are not individual sports. You have to have at least two people – one to drive the boat and one to ride. The camaraderie that takes place on the water, and within the boating and wakeboarding industry is one of the best mental health boosts a person can experience.
The more you can prepare yourself off of the water, the better prepared you will be on the water. It is all about having target goals. There are several things you can do to prepare off of the water. Just because they aren’t on the water, while doing the sport, the exercises and activities can still be fun. One activity Kirby likes to incorporate is the use of spooner boards, exercise balls, and light weight exercise bands. Balance is important for wakeboarding and surfing. Lakesurf makes a cool balance board that has been tailored specifically to surfing. You can even install an app on your phone and connect it to your television, allowing you to see yourself wake surfing in a video game. While playing the game, you don’t even realize you are working on core, leg, back, and ankle strength.
Kirby returned to the competition scene again in 2021, placing first in his division at the World Championships two years in a row! For Kirby, going back to Worlds has made him want to be in even better shape all year round. It has given him a goal to work towards, with an end date in mind. Kirby’s plan is to be in shape all year, but to be in peak physical fitness for the 2023 World Championships in Portugal.
What does Kirby do to stay in shape, while having fun? First, he wakeboards any time his schedule allows. He said at the beginning of his career, his goal was to build strength to perform the biggest tricks. But now that he is older, his goal is not to perform the biggest trick; his goal is to strengthen his body for the long haul, while preventing injuries, so he can ride longer and build stamina. When he’s not behind the boat, you can find Kirby riding BMX. He has a local track, where he loves to ride and push himself past his capacity for cardio. “My throat burns, my legs shake, and I have so much fun while getting an incredible workout. My adrenaline gets going and I push myself much harder than I would in a gym.”
If you are going to push your body far, you have to give it fuel and hydration. Kirby’s favorite “fuel” is Athletic Greens (AG1). They include all of the multivitamins and antioxidants he needs in a day, in one shake. We are all busy, and with being on the go all the time, being able to consume a shake on the run is helpful. Since starting AG1, Kirby says he feels more clear minded, has more energy, and is able to function properly. His body feels better and stronger. In addition to AG1, he takes a pre workout before heading out to the BMX track, to get pumped up. Kirby warns to be careful with pre workout, though, as you don’t want to take something that will make you jittery. His advice is to be sure to test it out and find the right fit, but NOT right before a competition. Follow it up with a protein shake, and drink a lot of water throughout the day, to give your body the proper nutrients to help recover.
If you are looking for some accountability, find someone with like-minded interests and do some sort of health count together. Kirby and team rider, Brody Spriggs, have fun while holding one another accountable. They keep track of any food or beverage decision that might not benefit them. If they consume something that is not beneficial or good for them, they give themselves a point. At the end of the week, they report to one another. The person with the least amount of points gets to assign a challenge for the other person to complete. For example, if Kirby wins points for the week, he might challenge Brody to complete 200 pushups a day. Rumor has it that Brody tried to assign one ice bath a day for Kirby, but Kirby chickened out. It is amazing how many times you might be tempted to have an extra energy drink, or go back for seconds at dinner, but then you won’t, because you don’t want to give yourself a point.
Fitness doesn’t have to be a daunting activity. Go out, try new hobbies, and have fun, while getting healthier. If you want accountability, get some friends involved and turn it into a game. You never know what new interests or hobbies you might be gifted in, unless you go out and try.