Leading figures from the wet leisure industry have boosted their business profiles and health during fundraising events for good causes
In recent years a host of wet leisure representatives have taken the plunge to stretch their physical endurances by entering charity bike rides, marathons and triathlons. This has not only helped them to remain fit for business but their endurance endeavours have also raised their profiles in the industry, as well as much-needed money for their chosen charities.
As triathlons have become more popular during the last decade, the wet leisure industry has been servicing the growing demand for swim spas for training and improved fitness purposes.
Last year Olympic Triathlon Gold Medal winner Alistair Brownlee helped to fuel interest in the sport with a golden performance in the London Olympics after regaining fitness, following an injury, with the use of an Endless Pools model at his home. This gave a major boost to Artesian Spas and Beachcomber dealer Craig Trusson of Home Counties Pools and Hot Tubs who is a retailer of Endless Pools.
“It was great that Alistair won Gold after using an Endless Pools model to get back to fitness before the Olympics,” said Craig; “It’s a great publicity boost and one that we will be looking to capitalise on.”
According to Aqua Hot Tubs Director Sunil Sharma there has been an increase in swim spa sales this year, which has seen the launch of the inaugural WhatSwimSpa? Magazine, due to the explosion of triathlons and sprint triathlon events being organised in this country.
“There is currently a strong demand for swim spas,” said Master Spas retailer Sunil, who supplies swim spas from the USA manufacturer endorsed by Olympic swimming icon Michael Phelps.
“That’s because there is a growing participation in triathlons of over 300 per cent in the past five years, and people don’t have the space or budget to build a pool in their garden to prepare for these events or gain fitness by swimming.”
It used to be the domain of extreme athletes, but now triathlon is officially Britain’s fastest- growing participation sport, growing at a rate of 10 per cent a year. It’s especially popular among 35 to 50-year-olds. With many distances to choose from, the triathlon, which combines swimming, cycling and running, has lost its gruelling image and become accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
The sport’s impressive debut in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the fact that the UK has several triathletes in the world’s top 50, including the 2012 Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee and his brother Jonathan, and their female GB teamates Helen Jenkins and Non Stanford, has helped to raise the sport’s profile.
“When the sport started in the early 1980s, it was an extreme endurance challenge,” says Norman Brook, head of British Triathlon, the sport’s UK governing body.
“Since then, triathlon has evolved into a shorter, faster sport and that has made it much more accessible. It’s one of those sports you get hooked on.
“In many cases, competitors are moving away from team sports for whatever reason but still want to stay physically fit and have a challenge to work towards,” says Norman.
“They can do that with triathlons because they are competing in their age group.”
Formula 1 driver Jenson Button is renowned for his love of the swim-bike-run. Olympic rower James Cracknell regularly races and since her retirement from competitive elite sports, former GB heptathlete Kelly Sotherton is the latest convert.
According to NHS advice and professional guidance from nutritionists, by combining regular levels of exercise with a healthy
and balanced diet it can help to ward off serious conditions such as heart disease and strokes, as well as certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. Likewise, being underweight and not consuming enough healthy foods can lead to fatigue, depression and other health issues.
This surge for fitness may provide health as well as mental and commercial benefits, as well as providing a welcome boost to fitness and energy levels, the latest research has found. A recent study of 9,000 people from age 11 upwards
by King’s College London found that people perform better in mental tests at the age of 50 if they have engaged in regular intense activity, such as playing sport, running, swimming or working out in the gym, since childhood.
Interviews were conducted at regular age intervals to monitor levels of exercise. Participants also undertook tests of memory, attention and learning.
Those who had exercised two to three times per month or more from the age of 11 scored higher in the tests than those who had not.
Study leader Dr Alex Dregan, from King’s College London, said: “As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these conditions in late adult years.”
Government guidelines say that adults aged 19 to 64 should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.
“It’s widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind,” said Dr Dregan.
“However, not everyone is willing or able to take part in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For these people any level of physical activity may benefit their cognitive well-being in the long-term and this is something that needs to be explored further.
“Intense exercise appeared to provide greater benefit for the brain than regular moderate activity”, said Dr Dregan.
Many leading figures from the wet leisure industry have already focused on the individual elements of triathlons, such as cycling and running, and have been leading by example to improve their fitness levels and raise money for charity in the process.
Last year in July, Golden Coast Director Dominic Adams got on his bike for a non stop 170 miles cycling challenge to raise money
for North Devon Hospice and Devon Air Ambulance Trust. He has also taken part in the Coast to Coast Challenge, an annual charity ride from Looe to Barnstaple in aid of North Devon Hospice, with brother and Golden Coast Managing Director Jamie Adams.
“Before the 170 mile cycle attempt I did as much training as I possibly could,” revealed Dominic; “Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I managed to get through it without any injuries, even though it rained throughout the event.
“I had done 100 miles previously and I knew roughly what I was letting myself in for. So a month before the event I did a lot of cycling in France.”
Dominic has also just signed up to take part in a charity bike ride through London in 2014, along parts of the Olympic route, to benefit the fundraising efforts for CLIC Sargent that cares for children with cancer. Even when he is not preparing for these events, though, he still makes every effort to stay fit by cycling as much as possible.
“I try to cycle to work whenever I can,” he divulged; “It’s a great way to start the day. It’s not just about being physically fit but also mentally fit as well, because it can help to ease the stress of being involved in a successful business.”
Last year brother Jamie had a bike accident and received multiple injuries when a motorist hit him and so Dominic has stressed that anyone who is cycling in dim light and at night should be ensuring they are as visible as possible.
“If you are cycling at night then you need to be highly visible with bright coloured clothing and as much lights as you can afford,” suggests Dominic; “You need to ride as if everyone is going to potentially knock you off your bike!”
Golden Coast colleague Adam Clark, meanwhile, had to rely on leg power alone this year when he entered his first ever London Marathon in April to raise funds for the Make- A-Wish Foundation UK. Thanks to a host of donations from friends and representatives from the wet leisure industry, including Golden Coast themselves, his final total for the charity was over the £2,000 mark.
Running as number 42441, the Golden Coast Sales Manager completed his London Marathon debut on April 21 in a respectable four hours 27 seconds. It was just over the target time he had set himself, which may have been a lot less if he had done more preparation and not suffered from cramp during the last stages of the punishing distance of just over
“At the start of the London Marathon I wanted to do it in less than four hours but if someone had offered me my eventual time I would have snapped their hand off,” Adam revealed to HTR.
“I was on for a time of around three- and-a-half hours before I hit ‘the wall’ during mile 21. It didn’t feel like a wall, though, it was more like Mount Everest! I got bad cramp in both of my legs and I was really struggling. The last four or five miles were the longest and very difficult
“Thanks to everyone who donated, including family, friends, colleagues and many customers, I was able to raise £2,326 for Make-A-Wish Foundation and I’m now in the ballotprocess for the next London Marathon. “I would advise anyone who is thinking about entering the London Marathon to do it because it is so emotionally rewarding. Not only can you make a significant contribution to a good cause, but also be part of a major event alongside other runners who are doing it for various personal reasons. It’s fantastic.
“In hindsight, though, I would certainly have done more preparation for the distance of a marathon and trained in a very different way. Instead of doing lots of short runs, like I had been doing for this year’s London Marathon, next time I will be doing longer runs to build up my endurance levels and get my body used to the distances of a marathon.”
Mike Robinson of Euphoria Lifestyle is another keen runner who completed the first Brighton marathon in a very creditable 4h 24m in 2010.
“Not only was it Brighton’s first ever marathon, it was mine too,” says Mike. “It was 25 minutes longer than I wanted, but nevertheless I was delighted to finish. I completed the halfway point in 1h 57m but really struggled from mile 17 to 22.
“I was inspired to run the race after losing a great friend to cancer in 2009, and this gave me impetus and determination to train and run the event. In total I raised £1135 for Cancer Research UK, 114 per cent of my target, so it was well worth the gruelling effort!”
Sundance Spas European Regional Manager Paul Garratt took part in the Tatton Triathlon in 2011 to give the fundraising efforts of Marie Curie Cancer Care and his fitness levels a boost, along with Hydropool Scotland Managing Director Andy McWilliams.
“We set ourselves a goal of completing the race and getting fitter,” explained Paul; “We achieved that with the added benefit of raising over £500 for a great charity.
“I personally wasn’t the prettiest triathlete. I did think at one point Greenpeace was going to try and push me back in the water, as my wetsuit was not the most flattering!”
Jacuzzi Spa & Bath Ltd National Sales Manager Martyn Winstone has been helping to promote the brand’s association with World Triathlon Champion Helen Jenkins during events such as the London Triathlon Expo.
Helen is featured in the current edition of our sister publication WhatSpa? magazine promoting the virtues of hot tub therapy to recover from injuries and prepare for triathlon workouts, while Martyn keeps in physical shape himself by running on a regular basis. He finds that ten mile runs have the double impact of being beneficial to both his body and mind.
Martyn, who is under our Hot Profile spotlight in this issue, revealed that he ensures he maintains a high level of fitness by taking to the countryside routes along picturesque footpaths near his home in the Northamptonshire area. This exercise, he reports, helps him to relax away from the busy schedules of his job to promote the Jacuzzi products in the UK and support a thriving retailer network.
“The best way I find to relax is to go for a ten mile run in the country on bridle ways and footpaths across Northamptonshire,” divulged Martyn; “I find after a busy day it’s a great way of achieving a work/life balance.”
AquaWarehouse Managing Director and the exclusive Vita Spas distributor for the UK Richard Hart plays tennis for self preservation and to stay trim, while preventing him from piling on the extra pounds after being tempted by the culinary delights of his partner’s home made cooking.
“I play a fair game of tennis, both match play and social fun,” Richard told HTR; “I’m one of those old codgers who uses shots that aren’t even in the coaching manual, but are strangely effective!
“The knack is to run as little as possible and finish the point quickly. If you can get me into a long rally I’m going to run out of steam.”
HotSpring retailer and Riptide swim spa distributor Huw Chivers of Hot Tub Barn is a strong believer in maintaining his fitness levels. Over the years he has been making regular ‘health tonic’ visits to the gym but, unfortunately, he has had to temporarily give up his current membership while waiting for treatment on his neck.
“I generally work out at the gym to keep my fitness levels up,” revealed Huw, who has promoted the thriving range of Riptide models in the debut edition of WhatSwimSpa?
“Unfortunately I’ve got a neck problem that needs treating at the moment, so that has put a stop to my gym workouts. I’m going to have to give up my gym membership because I naturally don’t want to do any more damage to my neck.”
HTR, WhatSpa? and WhatSwimSpa? Editor-in- Chief Nick Clamp has recently added another half-marathon in Nottingham to his growing tally of endurance events he has participated in during the last couple of years, which have included charity fundraising sprint triathlons and cross-country cycling from his home town of Bawtry to Whitby, over the testing Yorkshire Wolds. He advises, though, that preparation is essential before attempting any highly physical activities such as these.
“Preparing for sustained exercise involved in the long distances of marathons, the physical endurance of triathlons or stamina of cross- country cycling is essential,” advised Nick, who dropped two stones in weight during the sprint triathlon preparation process.
“You can’t just jump off the sofa and head off on a long distance run, if you’ve not been doing that sort of exercise before or for a long time. You need to build up your fitness levels gradually with the correct diet and exercise regime or you will do more harm than good.
“There’s no point trying to become fit but then being out of action from your showroom duties due to poor preparation that can lead to avoidable injuries or other health issues. It is important to allow your body to adapt to increasing levels of exercise as part of a structured build-up programme before going into any events such as triathlons, distance cycling and marathons.
“We obviously don’t want retailers to just jump into ‘binge sessions’ of heavy workouts after lengthy periods of little exercise. The sensible approach of ‘little and often’ will be much more beneficial and work wonders over time as you work towards the goal of achieving higher fitness levels.
“The weird thing is that the more exercise you do, the more energy you have, so dedicating even a small amount of time each week to fitness is definitely worth the effort and pays dividends to your overall lifestyle, including both work and play!” revealed Nick.
Experts advocate the following ‘gr-eight’ healthy eating suggestions as the basic principles to kick start your body’s metabolism and maintain superior health and fitness levels.
To get your body prepared for action, a healthy breakfast provides the best possible start to the day and wholemeal cereal with a piece of fruit will provide essential vitamins and minerals, as well as prevent mid-morning snack attacks
Always aim to achieve the minimum ‘five-a-day’ portions of fruit and vegetables and experts even suggest where possible to up this to eight portions to gain maximum health benefits by including fruit in cereals and dried fruit as a snack
Increase the consumption of healthy oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fats to send your levels of protein soaring in your body, along with essential minerals and vitamins. Try to include two portions of fish in your weekly diet
NHS experts advise you should reduce the risk of heart disease developing in later life by avoiding dangerously high levels of saturated fats. The current guidance is that the average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat and an average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat, which can be found in butter, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits, while instead seeking healthy options such as reduced fat spreads
Help to banish hunger pangs by ensuring a third of your meals include starchy foods, including wholegrain cereals and baked potatoes, as well as wholemeal bread, pasta and rice
Take high levels of sugar out of your diet by choosing unsweetened fruit juice instead of sugar- filled fizzy drinks to help prevent the risk of diabetes. Avoid food with more than 22.5g of sugar per 100g
Read food labels to check that high levels of salt are not sneaking into your diet. Adults should not consume more than 6g of salt a day and any food with 1.5g of salt per 100g or more should ideally be avoided
Remember to top your fluid levels with regular healthy drinks to meet the recommended level of 1.2 litres of fluid per day. Water, fruit juices and low fat milk should replace unhealthy fizzy drinks loaded with high sugar levels