Sea, Sand and the Best Circuit Workout You’ve Ever Had

There possibly isn’t a more fabulous place to work on your wellbeing than at the beach. Think about it; with all that soft sand, hard sand, water of varying depths and benches, you’ve got a natural circuit training session for free! Don’t believe me? Let’s turn to the fitness experts and a few “Ironman” competitors who have graciously shared their tips on beach exercise, and why it’s so rewarding for your wellness.


1. Soft sand running: According to Ironwoman Naomi Flood, soft sand is a killer to run in, but the unstable surface forces your body to really work at balancing and remaining upright. Still, there’s a trick to soft sand running. ‘Soft-sand running is quite taxing on the body, so stabbing your toes into the sand and running mainly on the balls of your feet is the best way to float across the sand,’ Flood advises. ‘Soft-sand running is great for fitness and also builds strength in the calves, ankles and quads.’ Linda Drummond, wellness expert and fitness writer for Body + Soul, adds, ‘Don’t limit your running on the sand to the regular one-foot-in-front-of-the-other scenario. Try running sideways: leaping in the air and bringing your feet together to tone and hone your thighs. Or draw lines in the sand and sprint forwards for 10 to 25 metres, before running backwards to the start.’


2. Strength exercises: According to Drummond, the sand is a great place to work on your strength. ‘Push-ups on the unstable surface of soft sand not only tone your arms and shoulders,’ notes Drummond. ‘But if you switch on your core while you’re doing them, you’re getting a core workout as well. Walking lunges on the sand will also make you work extra hard. Add in a couple of deep squats, some tricep dips on a bench, stair, or just the sand, then perform a hover on the sand and you’ve worked most of the main parts of your body.’


3. Balance exercises: It’s not just your strength you can work on when you’ve got sand between your toes; your balance can greatly improve with Drummond’s on-sand routine. ‘Stand in the soft sand on one leg, arms by your sides, and keep your eyes on the horizon,’ she instructs. ‘Then see if you can close your eyes and maintain your balance. Or take it another step and lean your body forward, with the opposite hand straight out in front of you and your other leg raised parallel to the sand. Hold, then swap sides. An early-morning yoga session on the sand also bumps up the benefits. Thirty minutes of yoga poses can start your day off in the most invigorating way.’


4. Work out in the water: You know that swimming is an amazing way to give your body an all-over workout, but walking or running in the shallows can add resistance, which helps tone your feet, ankles, calves and thighs and makes your heart pump faster. ‘Body surfing can also provide an intense workout,’ says Drummond. ‘Get the most out of a body surfing session by striding out through the waist-deep water, with your arms ploughing through the water for added resistance. Or if you’re really keen, swim out past the breakers for deep-sea swimming. You’ll tone most of your muscles and give your cardio system a workout, particularly if you’re swimming against any currents.’


5. Take Care: When at the beach, make sure you don’t do more harm than good by following our health tips…

  • Always wear sun cream when outside, even if it’s not that hot or sunny.
  • Keep hydrated by sipping water before, during and after a workout.
  • Scan the sand for hazards, especially if you’re going barefoot.
  • Swim between the flags or learn to read the water if swimming in an unpatrolled beach.

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