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“I am not the perfect picture of health in any way. But I know from experience that dabbling into different diets and structured off-water movement and exercise are hugely beneficial to my kayaking practice.”
– Benny Marr
Describe a holistic approach to whitewater kayaking.
Holistic by definition: a comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
Kayaking is a sport practiced in a dynamic environment. It is so damn fun that a lot of the time is spent overwhelmed by the pure joy of moving around a river. I never used to use my time off the river to work at getting better on the river until a few years ago. I never chose to pursue competitions at a high level to keep things in the always fun zone. And I never dedicated a huge amount of time to practice and progression. I got better at kayaking by kayaking a lot and not overthinking it. Now, I like to spend time thinking about how to improve my kayaking, my performance, power, efficiency, and consistency. A lot of this is done on the water, and now a lot is done off the water. By geeking out on technique and trying to distill information down to the most basic and repeatable mantras has been very helpful for me. When I am not kayaking I’m practicing yoga, exercising and doing other sports like downhill mountain biking. I try to get better at these things, but I am obsessively trying to use them to improve my kayaking. I try to understand how they could benefit me on the water or I tweak them into benefiting me on the water.
Most consistently I kayak a lot. I choose to. I choose where I am to be close to my favorite rivers at the best times. I watch everybody around me closely. I learn from them.
Whether I am working on my own progression or trying to assist someone else in theirs I like the practice of breaking things down into smaller pieces.
I am not the perfect picture of health in any way. But I know from experience that dabbling into different diets and structured off-water movement and exercise are hugely beneficial to my kayaking practice. Stretching, mobility, breathing, biking, thinking, reading, listening, eating a certain way, endurance efforts… These can all become tools for progression, whether you are trying to feel great, increase health or get better at any sport.
A holistic approach to whitewater kayaking can start at the put in and finish at the takeout. Or it can include how you get to and from these places, how you run your shuttle, who you paddle with, the other sports you do, yoga and nutrition, prehab and rehab. Or it can simply be working to better understand the fundamentals of boat control, edging, strokes and how each of these aspects of kayaking can help you to execute the line on a piece of delicious whitewater. It really depends on the individual and what aspects they identify as needing work in the big picture of having a fun and safe kayaking career.