Stretching before and after a training session or race keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy, which is very important – especially when using muscles in a repetitive way, such as constant paddling.
Dragon Boating is a physically demanding sport, guaranteed to increase your overall fitness with a combination of strength and endurance training.
But also requires an element of aerobic fitness, and a certain amount of power.
And for power, you need muscles.
While there is obviously an emphasis on upper-body strength, it does well to note that the sport actually comprises of a full-body workout.
When it comes to any kind of exercise, it is important to look after your muscles. And you’ll quickly realise that Dragon Boating works a lot of different muscles.
Besides the obvious muscles groups involved, such as the arms and shoulders, there are a lot of other muscle-groups utilised.
The most worked muscles in Dragon Boating are the following:
So how do we look after all these muscles, so they’re kept in powerful, working order?
Stretching is vital when it comes to Dragon Boating in any capacity, whether it be social, competitive or at an elite level.
And while stretching has obvious benefits in warming up your muscles before heading out on the water (sometimes in cold conditions), stretching is also a great way to decrease stress, enhance your range of motion, and improve circulation.
Stretching before and after a training session or race keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy, which is very important – especially when using muscles in a repetitive way, such as constant paddling.
Remember, Dragon Boating is a full-body workout, so it’s really important to check with your coach and devise a warm-up and warm-down plan.
There’s nothing worse than sustaining an injury and being out for part, or all, of the season.
So what stretches can we do to keep our muscles healthy, and reduce the risk of injury?
See the image below for some basic stretches you and your team can try together, to help get your muscles warmed up before jumping in the boat!
A guide to the top 5 things to do in the romantic city of San Francisco.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is an incredible sight. Declared a Wonder of the Modern World, The Bridge alone sees over 10 million visitors a year – and it’s easy to see why – it’s truly magnificent, whichever angle you look at it.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco, and spans 1.6 kilometres. A good view of the Bridge can be found from multiple vantage points – one of them being from Alcatraz Island – next on the ‘must-see’ list.
Alcatraz Island is roughly 2.5 kilometres from the shores of San Francisco. You can get there by boat, with multiple companies sending tourists over every day from the docks.
The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen both by boat and on the island – and if you manage to secure a night-tour of the penitentiary, you can watch the sunset over the Bridge.
Alcatraz holds many secrets and tales of daring escape attempts, having held many famous prisoners, including Al Capone. Walking through its walls and cells is slightly eerie, especially as night falls, however the interactive audio set you are given is incredibly fact-heavy and walks you through at your own pace.
It’s definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area – the history of such a place is definitely very interesting to learn about.
The Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see while in San Francisco. There’s plenty to see and do, from shopping at the local market stalls, learning about the history of the area or getting some of the freshest seafood in the city.
Fisherman’s Wharf is close to public transport, the city and has plenty of car-parking. You can hire bikes, visit the old-school arcade or simply wonder along the waterfront. It’s close to the Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not Museum.
Known as the ‘crookedest street’ in the world, Lombard Street has steep hills and curving corners that pass by some amazing Victorian Manors. The street is truly iconic and has amazing views.
Lombard Street attracts a large number of visitors every year, and provides a free, but very photogenic place to visit. It’s not far from the Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square, so if you’re in the area, you may as well check Lombard Street out!
Visiting LA? Don’t forget to check out these fun-filled theme parks!
*Before you go…
Although not compulsory, if you are planning on going to a few theme parks while in Los Angeles, your best bet is to purchase an ‘LA Go Card‘ before you go.
This is a once off purchase, giving you access to Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Warner Bro’s Studio and much more. The ‘Go Card’ varies in price from $92 for a one-day pass to $360 for a seven-day pass, but it saves you loads of money and messing around, and can be personalized to suit your needs.
If you don’t want to purchase a ‘Go Card’, it’s still worth purchasing your tickets in advance, online. The prices at the gates are much higher – and the earlier you purchase your ticket, the better price you’ll pay.
1. Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood is a must-see destination if you’re in Los Angeles.
Featuring a slew of shops, restaurants and attractions, including the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’, ‘The Simpsons Ride’ and much more, Universal Studios knows how to exceed expectations. The park sees over 6 million people annually, and is home to a bunch of working TV stations.
Based in Anaheim, roughly 45 minutes from Los Angeles, Disneyland and it’s sister park, Disneyland California Adventure Park are the product of fairy tales.
‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ is Disneyland’s slogan, and they’re pretty much correct. The staff are welcoming and stay in character throughout all visitor interactions, and the attractions are incredible. Although neither of the Disney Parks use the ‘LA Go Card’, it’s still worth paying a bit extra to see what all the fuss is about.
Disneyland California Adventure Park boasts roller-coasters and incredible sets from everyone’s favourite movies – including ‘Cars Land’, while Disneyland features the famous Disney Castle and attractions like ‘Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge’.
There’s truly something for everyone – and if you’re visiting, Downtown Disney has a bunch of shops and restaurants too!
If you’re after adrenaline-inducing rides, Six Flags is for you.
Located in Valencia, approximately 40 minutes out of Los Angeles, Six Flags is full of high-speed roller-coasters and rides that will blow your mind. Although the park has family-friendly attractions too, it’s the thrilling rides that bring in the most visitors.
Worth the trip, and generally not as crowded as Disneyland or Universal Studios, as it is a little further away.
Knott’s Berry Farm oozes a form of old-fashioned nostalgia. Located in Buena Park – roughly half an hour from Los Angeles, this theme park is a great ‘in-between’ park, which caters for the thrill seekers and the little ones.
Knott’s Berry Farm has something for everyone – with four themed areas, including the ‘Old West Ghost Town’, ‘Camp Snoopy’, the ‘Fiesta Village’ and ‘The Boardwalk’.
Stroll around Knott’s Berry Farm with an ice-cream, or hop on one of the world-class roller-coasters (if you dare!).
Located in San Diego, roughly an hour and a half from Los Angeles, Legoland has an array of attractions. Although the park is designed mostly to appeal to children (the roller-coasters are very family friendly, so to speak), there’s still plenty to explore for the adults too.
Legoland boasts ‘Miniland USA’ which features over 32 million bricks in its constructions – including a mini-sized Las Vegas, New York and New Orleans. If you have time and don’t mind a drive, Legoland is worth chucking in the itinerary.
NOTE: The above table has a couple of options for those looking for cheaper alternatives/ similar products. The below breakdown is based on what it cost me personally – this might differ for some.
NOTE: For those interested, below is a price break-down of everything I bought – this will obviously change depending on how much you plan on making… I made 12 jars and had roughly enough for 2 jars left over (I kept that separate and used it myself!).
In total, I bought: 12 jars from Kmart ($12), 1 bag of Epsom Salts ($10), 2 bags of Himalayan Salt ($8), 1 box of Bi-Carb Soda ($2.40), 2 packets of Dried Lavender ($8), 1 bottle of Lavender Essential Oil ($25) and 1 bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil ($25).
A cute, affordable and fun DIY project – these planter pots make the perfect gifts for any occasion!
Abbreviation for: do-it-yourself:
The activity of decorating, building, and making repairs at home by oneself rather than employing a professional.
‘DIY avoids the difficult relationship between householder and professional decorator.’
DIY Projects never really appealed to the laziness in me. However, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that my partner is obsessed with plants. We even have a walk-in greenhouse in our house’s sun-room.
So while I was watching him tend to his plants one morning, I had a great idea for a DIY Project/ Christmas Gift Idea.
Why not make some pretty pots for all those pretty plants?
So I started Googling ideas for DIY pot plants, to get some ideas. I found so many amazing DIY ideas, but I am a rookie, so I started filtering out some of the harder looking projects and opted for something more ‘beginner-friendly’.
I settled on the following sites for inspiration, which I found via Pinterest and a few blogs (see below):
The last source of inspiration is a local business in Adelaide, South Australia (where I live). Unfortunately, they have decided to close their business for a while and focus on personal things.
A few of my old work colleagues had pot plants from Rub a Dub Shrub, and the plants always looked so nice in their offices!
I’ve also seen these guys around at local markets etc., and really loved the designs and puns they came up with.
And with that, I got started!
So for me, a really big part of this project was to keep the cost down – I wanted to make some really cute presents for Christmas and birthday gifts, without it costing me a fortune and defeating the purpose.
I wanted these pot plants to be cheaper to make than it would be to go to the market and purchase something similar.
In total, I bought 15 terracotta pots ($24), 2 cans of spray paint ($25.76), 2 rolls of twine ($8), 1 hot glue gun ($8), 3 glue gun refills ($9), 1 stamp set ($8) and 1 can of clear coat spray ($17.98).
So the total for 15 completed pots ended up being:
15 DIY/ HOMEMADE POTS:
15 Home-made Pots:
15 STORE BOUGHT POTS:
15 x $27.95 (RRP Rub a Dub Shrub):
That price comparison was crazy to me – the DIY pots ended up costing roughly $6.85 each to make. And they turned out very, very well (for a first-time DIYer, anyway)!
Wash the pots, let them dry, and then spray paint them with the white paint.
My partner and I ended up putting down a plastic sheet and spraying all the pots on that – we gave them 2 coats of paint in the end, which seemed to work fine.
IDEA: You could always change up the colours, or create stenciled patterns if you were feeling creative – I went with plain white to accentuate the black lettering I was planning on using.
Use the hot glue gun to add the twine to the top lip of the pots.
I struggled at first with the glue gun and where to start with the twine, but after a bit of trial and error, managed to work it out and create something that looked reasonable.
TIP: Start the twine from the top of the lip, but don’t start from the inside of the top, or the pot will look wonky. Pull the twine tight as you go and try and push the twine together as much as possible, this helps lessen any gaps in between the twine.
After you’ve let the twine and glue set, you can then add the lettering.
I used a generic stamp set from K-mart, nothing fancy – with normal stamp ink.
I picked out some of the plant puns I liked and thought up a few different quotes to stamp onto the pots (see image).
TIP: Stamping can be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of getting the lettering straight etc., but I’ve found that having lettering that’s a little bit wonky can add to the ‘home-made’ touch. But if you’re really not happy with your stamping or have made a mistake, I found I could wipe off the ink with a tissue or earbud if it hadn’t dried yet!
Clear-coat your pots.
I’m not sure if everyone does this, but I didn’t want to risk the ink on the sides of the pots running if someone watered their plants and accidentally spilled some.
I used the Boyle Gloss Spray Sealer.
Clear-coating/ sealing is a good thing to do anyway, as this will help protect the pots from weathering, ageing and wear and tear.
TIP: I used a few coats of the clear-coat on my pots – simply hold the can at around 30cm distance and spray all over – it doesn’t matter if you get some on the twine as it is colourless.
Pot your plants.
I let my partner do this, as he is the expert when it comes to plants, but choosing the plants is completely up to you.
We put a variety of different plants in, such as Ivy, Aloe Vera and plants that I don’t know the names of (I’ll have to add them in another post).
IDEA: Succulents are a great idea for this, as they are hardy – so even your friends and family who aren’t ‘green-thumbs’ can enjoy a long-living plant. They’re also quite cheap (or you can get cuttings from someone’s garden for free). Plus there are plenty of succulent-related puns to pair them with!
Wrap/ decorate your finished product!
I decided it would be better not to fully wrap the plants, for obvious reasons, and decided to put a little bow on the pot instead, and pop them into Christmas ‘gift-bags’ I got from the Reject Shop (2-pack for $2.50).
It’s really up to you how you decide to wrap/decorate your pots – but there’s plenty of ideas on Pinterest – click here for some ideas.
(Thanks to my sister Nikyta for taking some photos of the pots I gave her!)
Well, I did it – I finally finished my first DIY project! It was so much fun to have a creative outlet and be able to give them as gifts for Christmas.
Hopefully over the next couple of months I can try out a few other DIY ideas and share my results with you.
Let me know if you’ve done something similar, or try out the above – I’d love to see your results!
As one of the most popular up-and-coming sports in the world, here are 10 good reasons to try Dragon Boat Racing today!
First of all… What is Dragon Boating?
Dragon Boat Racing is a water-sport spanning thousands of years, originating from the Pearl River Delta region of China’s Guangdong Province. It is one of the most up-and-coming sports in the world, with over 50 million participants worldwide.
Modern Dragon Boat Racing began as an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976 (for more information, click here).
Dragon Boat Racing consists of crews of 10 or 20 paddlers in a boat (+ Sweep/ Steerer and Drummer). The boats are typically made of carbon-fibre, fibreglass and other lightweight materials.
So how does it work?
Dragon Boat Racing involves each crew member paddling in synchronization/ as part of a team, against other Dragon Boat teams (or against time) from a start line to a finish line.
Race lengths vary, with the most popular being 200m, 500m and 2km.
Although you may have seen some teams sporting wooden paddles, Dragon Boat paddles are generally made of Carbon Fibre and their dimensions are carefully considered and controlled to comply with IDBF standards.
A paddler’s technique, height and power will determine the exact length and weight of the paddle.
You will notice the stamp/ decal on the top of the blade in the image – noting that the paddle complies with IDBF standards.
Paddles that are not compliant are not able to be used in official Dragon Boat Racing.
Modern Dragon Boat Racing is organised at the international level by the IDBF, which is the governing body for the sport.
Dragon Boat Racing at the State, National and International level is very competitive and many paddlers train all year round and go through rigorous training programs, camps and try-outs to be capable of competing at a high level.
The Australian Dragon Boat Team is the Auroras – and their fitness benchmarks are outlined here.
Above is a diagram of the typical set-up of a Dragon Boat Crew. Below is a quick description of each of these positions and what their purpose is:
The sweep is arguably the most important person on the boat.
They are responsible for the safety of the entire crew, and need to be in command 100% of the time.
The sweep needs to be able to understand wind and race conditions, as well as the capabilities of their crew, in order to keep the boat moving forward correctly.
The back two/ four paddlers should be strong and able to keep up with the front ‘strokes’.
MIDDLE/ ENGINE ROOM:
The middle section of the boat is usually reserved for the strong, heavier paddlers to help balance the boat but still keep it above water with powerful strokes.
The front paddlers, also know as ‘strokes’ set the pace for the rest of the crew to follow.
These paddlers should have long, strong techniques, setting the visual example for the entire crew.
The drummer position is usually reserved for someone lightweight (so the boat isn’t front heavy).
Drummers beat the drum in time to the strokes’ paddling, and calls out encouragement to the team – it might seem underrated, but it is extremely important in race conditions.
So why should you try it?
There are many great reasons to try and love Dragon Boating – but here are my personal TOP 10 reasons to give it a go:
STRENGTH AND FITNESS
Yes, this is an obvious benefit to any sport. However to be good at Dragon Boating, it requires a certain level of endurance, aerobic fitness, as well as strength.
It’s a whole body workout – your legs are the anchor while the muscles in your arms, shoulders and back are used to cut through the water.
You have to really lean forward to get the correct technique, which means you are also working your core at the same time, too!
Most clubs train several times a week, which means you can really choose what you get out of the sport. Whether you’re looking for a more social activity, or you have a competitive streak, this sport is excellent for either end of the spectrum.
Dragon Boat Racing is a sport that originated thousands of years ago. It is believed to have origins tracing back 2,500 years. In Chinese tradition, the Dragon symbolizes:
On race days, the boats are fitted with the proper Dragon Head and Tail. A traditional ceremony called ‘Awaking the Dragon’ is carried out, where a Taoist Priest dots the eyes of the dragon, thus ending its ‘slumber’.
The Chinese celebrate each year with a ‘Dragon Boat Festival’ which is one of their oldest and most grandiose festivals. It’s also known as the Duanwu Festival and occurs near the summer solstice (late May, early June). You can find more information here. Adelaide Dragon Boat Clubs also race at the OzAsia/ Moon Lantern Festival.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE:
Dragon Boat Racing is a sport that incorporates a wide variety of people of all ages, races and genders, from all walks of life. This makes it an amazingly social sport to be a part of.
Whether you plan to try Dragon Boat Racing competitively or socially, one thing is assured: you will make some amazing friends.
The atmosphere both on and off the water is perfect for getting to know the people in your club, and everyone helps everyone else.
MASTERING A NEW SKILL-SET
Learning to paddle is always interesting – and each club has their own slightly different paddling technique – but for most, it is a very new kind of skill to learn.
Not only do you need to learn how to paddle – you need to learn the commands as well. It’s a sport that is incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally, but once you start to master it, very satisfying!
THE SCENERY & BEING ON THE WATER
Where there are boats, there are (hopefully) bodies of water. And generally speaking, the places you paddle are quite beautiful!
Whether you’re paddling at a marina, on a river, a lake or the ocean, there is usually a lot to look at. So, while you may be paddling your butt off, you can still appreciate the scenery around you.
Early mornings are fresh and a perfect way to start your day, and afternoon training is rewarded with some incredibly beautiful sunsets. And the occasional pelican, fish, seagull or duck as well!
CAMARADERIE/ BEING PART OF A TEAM
Dragon Boat Racing is team sport, and to have any hope of making the boat go forward, you must work together.
The loyalty and team spirit you find while Dragon Boat Racing is something you won’t find anywhere else.
You’ll find out very quickly that ‘team’ takes on a very important meaning, especially while you’re on the water.
Rain, hail or shine (quite literally), training is a lot easier when you know you can trust the people around you. And rest assured, there’s nothing quite like paddling on a lake, hail and rain bucketing down, and laughing with the people next to you.
You will spend a lot of time on and off the water with the people around you, so having a mutual trust and friendship is imperative. Over time, you’ll notice that the people you paddle with will begin to become family.
Dragon Boat Racing can take you to some interesting places! Not only can you compete nationally, but if you make the national team, you could find yourself on the other side of the world.
The Dragon Boat World Championships take place all over the globe, from Hong Kong and Thailand, to Hungary and France. With a bit of competitive spirit and determination, this sport can take you to anywhere imaginable, all while making international friends along the way!
FREEING YOUR MIND
One of my favourite things about Dragon Boat Racing is that while you are on the water, there’s absolutely no time to think about anything other than paddling.
You are completely focused on your technique, what the commands being called out are, and keeping in time with the strokes (front two paddlers).
This sport is truly amazing for your all round well-being – body, mind, soul and spirit.
For someone like me, where day-to-day life can sometimes feel out of control, Dragon Boat Racing is the perfect opportunity to let all the worry and stress drift (quite literally) away.
Discipline. There’s nothing quite like it.
You don’t know what this means until your sweep is screaming at an ear-splitting decibel for a ‘Power 20’ and all you can do is push your hardest and hope you aren’t going to have a heart attack.
Linking in with camaraderie, you and your team-mates rely on being disciplined to execute everything you’re told, in perfect synchronization, in order to bring the boat up and forward. And when it works, it works.
Dragon Boat Racing = Races.
Lots and lots of races! Whether you see yourself as a competitive person or not, racing against other clubs is a lot of fun. It really brings everything together – camaraderie, discipline, team work, tradition, strength and fitness and everything you’ve learned along the way.
Giving one hundred percent, as a team unit, is truly a sight to see, and something to experience.
Race days are also a great way to mingle with people with other teams, watch other age-groups, enjoy some good old-fashioned team spirit and perhaps a beer or three after it’s all said and done.
So what are you waiting for?!
Summer is rapidly approaching (for my Australian friends, at least), and what better way to get fit and enjoy the water and sun? So what are you waiting for? Head down to your local club and give it a go!