Summer time can be the best but also the worst time to try to maintain a somewhat even consistency in your exercise routine. Kids are out of school, vacation plans and road trips are booked, visitors are dropping in. It seems that a two months sabbatical is required but it does not have to be that way. Why let all your fitness go to waste over the summer. September is also a busy month and it is certainly not the easiest month to start from scratch.
So here are a few tips to have a meaningful workout in a tiny hotel pool.
- This might be the best place to improve your kicking; the possibilities are endless.
- First lie on your back and hold on to either the wall or the stairs, contract your abs and start kicking. Make sure you kick with your whole leg; the movement is starting from the hips and not from the knees. Your feet are in a pointed position. This is the best way to get rid of that famous “bicycle kick” which slows you down when you swim. Make sure you have a soft regular movement, all in alignment, no crossing of the feet, no knee getting out of the water. Once you have auto corrected your kick and you have a feel for it, you can turn on your tummy and kick holding the wall. The next step is the vertical kicking with your hands crossed on your shoulders, with your hands up or, for the real challenge, with your arms in a streamline position.
- Vertical kicking is an excellent drill for learning dolphin kicking. Make sure you use a full body movement, staying vertical, using your abs. If you envision your head and your feet being the opposite points of a diamond which is anchored, your butt is moving from one side to the other of that diamond. As you go faster, the amplitude of the diamond will decrease and the diamond shape will flatten. Experience with both the slow fat diamond (kick used when swimming) and the very fast flat diamond (kick used for the underwater streamline).
- The wall is also an excellent place to improve your breaststroke kick. Every time you push, you must feel the pressure on the wall. If dropping your knees is your problem, do some breaststroke kick while being vertical along the wall. It will force you to bring your ankles towards your butt. If your problem is not turning your feet out, do some vertical kicking and make sure you are going up and down as you kick.
- To improve your streamline, practice this very fun and challenging drill. In an area where the water comes to about your shoulders, drop down to the bottom of the pool and push up with all your might as high as you can in a streamline position with a small fast dolphin kick (real dolphins can do that very well); drop down again and keep doing it, until you are exhausted!!
- A small crowded pool can also give you the opportunity to visualize your arm movements. With your feet on the bottom, practice and look at what a 90 degree catch looks like, but mostly feels like. With your arms extended in front of your shoulders, start putting your fingers towards the bottom of the pool, then your hand, then your whole forearm while keeping your elbow at the surface of the water. This is the most critical part of your stroke. In freestyle, the good swimmer will go directly into that 90 degrees catch as their arms are already entering in front of their shoulders (by the way, it is what Katie Ledecky is mastering so well). In butterfly and breaststroke, there will be a small sculling motion to get the hands to go to their power position, but then the 90 degrees catch will also take place. To practice the sculling motion, start with your hands together in front of you, turned slightly towards the outside (thumbs down). It should feel like you are opening the water in front of you.
- This workout, although not being mileage, might improve your feel for the water and go a long way in helping you be a better swimmer.
Here are a few other tips to help you stay in shape over the summer.
First and foremost, be flexible with your new routine.
- Workout early in the morning before the kids are even out of bed and before everybody demands your time. You will feel great, relieved that you have done your workout, and will have a ton of energy to keep up with the kids and visitors once they hit the ground running.
- Trade-off with your spouse, neighbors and/or visitors. You keep the kids while they workout and vice versa, have a planned schedule.
- Plan some family outings which involve physical activities: hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting…; a game of tag, frisbee, basketball, baseball…; use the neighborhood park as your jungle gym to perform step-ups, pulls ups, lunges, monkey bar…; take everybody to the pool with you.
- Do not underestimate the value of a swim workout in a tiny hotel pool. This is the best place to improve your technique (see above).
- All in all, be creative, flexible, enjoy your summer and stay active.