Getting Fit for Sailing

Published on September 8th, 2015

Harry Legum’s fitness studio, Annapolis Sailing Fitness in Maryland, focuses exclusively on training sailors for their sport. Fitness Trainer sat down with Harry to find out what goes into getting a sailor fit for competition or for the pure enjoyment of the open waters…

Can you tell us about your fitness program?

Our program is specially tailored toward the sailor’s needs with a primary emphasis on safety, form and a holistic approach to the overall athlete. Our programs are suited to the sailor’s requirements on the boat and position.

For example, for the bowman, this position needs to be prepared for many eventualities. Based on individual strengths, my approach for the bowman is generally as if training a rock climber or wrestler. A bowman would need great upper body ability, be fast, and be able to do pull ups and think quick.

I train sailors not only physically but mentally, introducing problem-solving challenges between sets and cultivating their ability to perform under pressure.

For someone sailing a small boat like a Laser, their overall performance is required with an emphasis on core, cardio, quads and staying in body weight requirements for the boat. For sailors, all muscles are important, with an emphasis on core, balance and cardio.

How many sailors have you worked with and how long have you been doing this business?
I’ve literally worked with thousands of sailors, teams, one to ones, etc. I’m ten years into this venture. We’re the first-ever sailing fitness program and studio anywhere, working with both competitionlevel and amateur sailors.

How did you think of this business idea? Did you sail as a youth?
When I returned home to Annapolis ten years ago, I dreamt up the idea and noticed nobody else was doing it. I did a Google search to be sure and it wasn’t out there. I grew up sailing in Annapolis and learned to sail on a boat called a Turtle (go figure). No ocean racing as a kid, but these days I like to do local competitions in town.

Have any of your sailors won competitions?
Anna Tunnicliffe won a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics in the Laser Radial fleet and was a Rolex Yachtsman of the year, and Terry Hutchinson is two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the year. Many others have won many competitions from junior programs to countless high school and college events, to professional. One of my favorite experiences was working with a client who was paralyzed from the waist down. It was pretty spectacular and humbling. Frankly, I do work with one non-sailor: Scott Heyman is a multiple gold medalist in the Special Olympics for powerlifting. My all-time favorite client!

What nutritional advice do you offer sailors?
Whatever they need with emphasis on eating as a fuel. Chris Carmichael’s book, “Food for Fitness,” is a great guideline. If clients, again regarding to sailing, adhere to training, weight loss will happen as a byproduct for those individuals with those goals. Some people may require a nutritionist. Always, my first concern is individual health and fitness regardless of sailing, then we go into specific needs and of course positions on boat. Always an overall kinetic training philosophy.

What’s your favorite aspect about being on the water?

Background: Harry Legum has been a Bio-Trainer/Coach for the last 30 years. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Army as a shock trauma paramedic and member of Army powerlifting team. For the last ten years Harry has owned and operated Annapolis Sailing Fitness, specializing in training sailors from Opti boats to the America’s Cup campaign. He produced his first-ever DVD for sailing fitness, worked with countless yacht clubs, colleges, US Sailing and various organizations from coast to coast.

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