By Wanita Nicol; Photography by Unsplash
Think swimming isn’t for you? Use these simple fixes to burn fat, tone up and boost your heart in half the time.
When it comes to the fitness stakes, swimming takes the prize for best all-rounder. It burns fat like no one’s business and tones your whole body in one go. What’s more, it’s good for your heart, helps you breathe better, is good for asthmatics, has a seriously low injury risk and improves coordination. Best of all? You can score all these perks in way less time than you would with a regular workout!
That’s why art director Michelle von Schlicht and deputy ed Wanita Nicol opted to do swimming for their #WHGetsFit challenge. If your go-to style is hair-out-the-water granny stroke, read on for simple fixes to the problems that are keeping you on dry land.
Chances are, you’re not kicking properly. Former SA swimming champ, Jessica Ashley-Cooper says the best way to fix that is with a kick board. Hold it in front of you so you’re isolating your legs. With your arms out of the equation, the only way you’ll move is getting your body horizontal so your legs aren’t under water, pulling you down. Then, little flutter kicks with straight legs turn your legs into a propeller. When your quads, bum and abs feel the burn, you’re doing it right.
You can’t breathe.
Kind of like driving a car, swimming involves coordinating lots of different body parts and actions. And when you’re thinking about all those, it’s easy to forget about breathing. Ashley-Cooper recommends squeezing a pull-buoy (looks kind of like a squashed dumbbell made of foam) between your legs. It will isolate your arms so you can focus on timing your breath with your arm movements. Breathe out under water so there’s space in your lungs when you come up for air. Practise breathing on both sides.
You’re working hard but you’re still slow.
To move efficiently you need to use the water’s resistance to your advantage. Tighten your core so your legs sit just beneath the water’s surface. As your arm comes over, slice your flat hand into the water, then cup your hand with fingers together. Use your cupped hand to scoop the water behind you, extending your arm fully behind you before it comes over again, says Ashley-Cooper.
You’re finished after two laps.
Swimming is tiring work. Watch the timer on the wall and take breaks, but keep them short. Try to allow yourself just 20-30 seconds to catch your breath before your next set. To give your muscles a break, mix up your strokes – it will also give you better overall toning.
Your goggles are leaking.
Find a pair that fits your face properly. Women may need to buy smaller goggles because our faces are often smaller than men’s. Check if the goggles are adjustable — the straps and nose bridge may be shortened to fit smaller faces. Wet the goggles before you put them on and push them against your face to create a tight seal. Adjust the position of the strap around your head to find the best angle for you.
Looking for more alternative ways to get fit? Tone up the fun way with this strength and cardio dance workout.