Fitness and Wellness This Summer
Don't judge a book by its cover they say, and it is true. Or fitness by a social media image I'd add! As Instagram explodes with images of great looking people with greater looking bodies, I appreciate the value of fitness delivered the pure athletic way.
Athletes are generally admired for their fitness and physique because it's so central to performance. But this certainly doesn't come easy, and with strict WADA guidelines, for athletes it usually doesn't come with quick fixes of steroids or cosmetology either! It's pure sweat and hard work. An Olympic swimmer for instance, goes through a tremendous amount of physical preparation not only in the pool, but outside of it as well, to deliver peak performances. Training could include 6 hours in the pool covering distances of 10 km each day plus an hour of intense dry-land training in the gym or sessions of yoga for flexibility, and additional focus on nutrition, physiotherapy, mental fitness and more. Any sport at national and international level requires the dedication of a full time job. And the deep understanding of the body and mind that emerges from this, often unique to their sport, is revolutionary.
There are a number of brands therefore who turn to athletes for advice on products, with the aim of tapping into this understanding. This is of course welcome from an athlete’s perspective - as everything legal that helps cuts seconds in the pool is! I am a Speedo Fitness Mentor, and believe that Speedo is a great example of a brand that has developed a range of revolutionary products that aid swimmers based on their real challenges in the pool by engaging closely with swimmers to understand unique challenges. The Speedo Fit Body Positioning swimwear, developed specifically for racing, and used during training, is something that I would swear by. The core of the body is central to a swimmer’s stroke and speed. The compression the suit provides, keeps your core muscles activated and engaged, and this helps to maintain an efficient, horizontal swimming position for longer. Eventually, with practice, you start to feel higher on the water, more streamlined, and of course, faster!
The Speedo Kickboard is another fantastic training aid, whether you are a beginner or an Olympian, and when used in swimming drills, can very quickly promote lower back and leg strength, offering better core control and stability in the pool.
Another programme that I really like is Speedo’s Aquaphysical. The program is a great compliment to an otherwise slightly monotonous routine of the traditional laps in a pool. Focussed on building cardio-vascular fitness, and promoting muscle strength gains, the programme uses the buoyancy of water to reduce risk of injuries. To put it simply, the pool becomes your new gym, without the risk of hurting muscles by lifting weights to see quick gains! This programme has also been developed in conjunction with swimmers and gym-experts.
There is a huge role that mental strength and focus plays in helping athletes achieve their goals.
Today, the best athletes in the world know exactly what it takes to be at the top of their game. Most, if not all, have experienced depression related to their sporting careers at some point, and come out stronger and better equipped to face the challenges ahead. They bring this wealth of knowledge to mental coaches, and in collaboration, I see tons of wellness programs being created, to support future generations of people.
“Success is 99 percent mental and one percent physical”, is a quote you hear often, and it really is true. Even in individual sports like swimming, have teams of physical and mental trainers to support swimmers.
Once again, this close look at the minds of those who play for excellence is certainly worth a study for brands. Whether they are looking to develop solutions for general wellness or helping to develop physical strength, flexibility or endurance for a professional athlete or a recreational one, collaborations with leaders in the category, and learning from their experience, will create unique and useful products.
It’s not surprising therefore to see countless fitness applications on smartphones, equipment like foam rollers and finally physical therapy like cupping or sports massages inundate the market. Brands, today, are getting better and better at delivering exactly what sport requires at every level.
As a result, there are many more truly fit people around, both mentally and physically, and, for an elite athlete such as myself, I see records being broken in competitive sport, every day, and hope for the images on my social media!