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Fitness & Boating with CrossFit's Matt Spencer

Boating and fitness
Matt Spencer from CrossFit Orillia knows boats and fitness- here's how to stay active on the water

Fitness and boating? Can they live together in the same world? It’s tough, but in our opinion, not impossible.

A lot of times we see people fighting themselves. What I mean is you’ll see people work hard during the week, and on the weekend let it all loose. Now let me first say I am a firm believer of having a truly balanced lifestyle, but if on Monday you’re kicking yourself for having that extra Caesar, then maybe things are a little out of balance.

Now before you throw me overboard, let me tell you I've lived the boating lifestyle. As a former host of PowerBoat Television, and as a boat reviewer right here with, I know a thing or two about boating.

In 2018 I decided to switch my career to being more fitness focused. Knowing what I know about boats, as well as the approach we take on fitness at CrossFit Orillia, I think having an active lifestyle while on the boat is totally achievable!

So what we're going to talk about is what are some of the pieces of equipment that you can have on your boat that will help you maintain your active habits.

Now I know that space on a boat is really important, not just in terms of where am I gonna store this equipment, but how much space do I have to work out in? You also don't always have access to a dock or even have access to a place on the shore.

Maybe all you have access to is just a small swim platform.

Well, what that leads us to our golden rule that will always help you make these decisions.

The best thing to always think about when picking the equipment we're going to use, as well as what workouts we're going to do is think simplicity. That's why, when you're considering what simple piece of fitness equipment can I keep on my boat? Well, look, no further than the dumbbell.

A single dumbbell is an incredible piece of equipment and all you need. They range in sizes from 2 pounds all the way up to over 100. When choosing the weight of a dumbbell to either keep or bring to the boat, think what are you going to be able to do the most with? That’s because it can be used a bunch of different ways, and it is very versatile in a small space. I can press, I can push press. I can deadlift. I can squat. I can do swings, the list is truly endless!

Which takes us to the next question: what workouts should I do on the boat?

First, we always want to consider two things: how much space and time do you have? I believe in a single rule: simple is best. Short, simple, effective movements are going to be much better than the workout that you didn't do at all. Just because you can't get the same routine as you can at your home gym doesn't mean you still can't keep the habit moving in the right direction.

Next, stick with what you know. Use workout routines and movements that you've used in the past, and just simply modify them, change them, or tweak them to make them work for your lifestyle.

Finally, get creative with your workouts on your boat. Rather than looking at the boat as a limitation, consider it to be a unique way to make your workouts fun! You don't very often get to do things like swimming or pushing yourself up onto the swim platform. Consider using your tender, depending on its size. These are fun, creative ways that you can get moving where you can work with your environment, rather than against it. Fitness and exercise doesn’t need to be so rigid. A simple mindset shift is to look at exercise as movement - did you move today?

On a fun side - check this video out.

Think having a full gym set up on a boat is impossible? Tell that to Dan Bailey (living in California helps a lot too!).

Most of the time what a lot of people struggle with is motivation. It can be hard to find the motivation to workout on the best of times, let alone on the boat when the sun is shining! But in our experience, that lack of motivation is actually a lack of knowing what to do.

Most people rely on the same few routines that they cycle in and out, and they can’t be adapted to a boat lifestyle.

At CrossFit Orillia, we have CFO Go! - daily home workouts that can be done either in a full gym at home, or even on the boat because we offer body weight options as well. Again, as we believe simplicity is best living the best of both worlds. Having a healthy active lifestyle and getting out on the water don't have to be at odds with one another. Here at BoatBlurb, we're gonna help you with more content moving forward, get out there, get moving, and we'll see you next time.

To get in shape for boating season you can email Matt at or visit

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