Tag: fitness

A Beginner’s Guide to Wakeboarding

stephen overton

After a few months of the cold weather, I like to take a break and visit a tropical island.  It’s a welcome distraction and I indulge in the delights of the warm weather. One of my favorite things to do on a warmer day is hit the water. Laying out by the pool can be nice, but I prefer to be active. Wakeboarding is my preferred activity, but I’ll take surfing, jetskiing or snorkeling if you’re offering. If you haven’t tried wakeboarding, I want you to go out and do it now! Or, at least try it on your next warm-weather vacation. Like hiking, you should be prepared before you hit the water. To make sure you’re safe while you test out your new favorite hobby, I’ve put together a short list of tips to help you start wakeboarding.

First thing’s first, make sure you wear a lifejacket. This goes without saying, but I just want to remind you. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) anytime you’re in the water. Once you’ve got your lifejacket on, find someone to be your spotter. Since you’re new to wakeboarding, you will need to have another pair of eyes on you. The spotter is responsible for you, and he, or she, will keep the driver alerted about your position at all times, and keep their eyes out for other approaching boats, or objects in the water.

Alright, so you have the very basics covered. Now, you have to get yourself on the board. Before you go out into the water for the first time, decide which foot you want to face forward. This is most basic wakeboarding tip, and you should know before you’re out on the water. Decide by figuring out which foot you intuitively place forward. Imagine you’re about to kick a ball or you’re catching yourself after a stumble, the foot you place first will be the foot that faces forward.

Now, take a beginner’s stance. Place your back binding far back, closer to the end of the board, and align it at zero degrees. You should be able to press your weight directly on the top of the rear fin. Your front binding should be between a 15-27 degree angle, and point slightly towards the front of the wakeboard. During your first few wakeboarding trips, you should use a shorter rope, so it’ll be easier to get up on the board and out of the water.

stephen overton wake boarding

Now that you’re on the board, stay as close to it as you can. Keep your arms and knees tucked in, and stay crouched down until your fully out of the water. As you stand up, take it slow and make every more deliberate, so you can evenly balance and distribute your weight. As you get up and out of the water, keep most of your weight on your front foot. Once you’re standing, remember to shift some of your weight back. As you’re standing, keep the row handle low. As you continue practicing, you’ll be able to hold it higher. The most important thing is to take your time. You should also stay relaxed, and avoid feeling frustrated. Practice makes perfect, and you will make mistakes, but that’s a part of learning. Remember, just have fun with it!


Dressing for Winter Hiking


Now that winter is in full swing, it’s time to get out and enjoy the crisp cold weather. Many adventurers will pack their gear and shy away from the cold weather, but I encourage you to go out and enjoy the winter. But, before you go out hiking, make sure you are fully equipped to handle the cold temperatures. Under the usual temperate conditions, you need to be careful. But, in the winter you need to be even more considerate of your surroundings and your gear. Here is some advice to make sure you can enjoy hiking in the winter.

Layering your clothing is critical. Your ultimate goal is to set up a hiking outfit that is comfortable in a range of activity. Ideally, you shouldn’t feel cold when you’re standing still, or sweat when you’re active. Avoid sweating as best you can. Remember, sweat evaporates extremely slowly in the winter. Once you stop exerting yourself, the remaining sweat can leave you cold and clammy. You can avoid this feeling by maintaining a steady pace during activity, and removing layers as you see fit. It is inevitable that you will spend some of your hike standing still, whether you’re waiting for a slower hiker, or stopping for a meal. So, whether you’re moving around vigorously or taking a pause, your clothing should be comfortable at any given moment.

You may be accustomed to dressing for the winter in your day to day life, and while the same basic strategy will apply to your hiking gear, you will need to be more thorough when dressing yourself. Your base layer is the foundation for your hiking outfit, it should keep you dry and move sweat away from your skin. You should wear something made of wool, or similar wicking fiber. Typically, hikers will wear their base layer with an additional layer, like a thin jacket or windbreaker. Next, you should add layers for insulation, like a fleece or wool sweater. The insulating layer should provide the most warmth, and should be easily added or removed. On top of your insulating layer will be a shell to protect you from the elements like wind, rain, or snow. Ideally you want your shell to be made of Gore-tex, or a similar all-weather waterproof but breathable material. The last layer will be your puffer jacket. Look for something with a down or high-quality synthetic filling, depending on your preference. This layer should be easy to put on or take off.

When you’re looking for layering pieces, stay away from cotton, even with your socks or underwear. While cotton is comfortable and breathable for everyday wear, it will absorb your sweat and trap it near your skin while you hike. Your cotton layers will become cold and damp, which is dangerous and could lead to hypothermia once you stop moving. Remember, the key is to stay comfortable and dry. Do your best to avoid sweating, so start out cold by removing a layer before you start hiking, you can add or remove layers as your conditions change. Adjust your pace to optimize your body temperature. Slow your pace as you hike uphill to avoid overexerting yourself, and move faster downhill to keep warm. Most importantly, communicate with your group. Do not force your slower hikers to overexert themselves, have them lead the group, or position them near the front of the group to set the pace. Hiking is an adventurous activity, but it is important to stay safe!