After a month long intensive training program at the New Zealand Starboard SUP Academy, Sean Poynter is in the best shape of his life. Photo: Mike Fields

After a month-long training program at the New Zealand Starboard SUP Academy, Sean Poynter is in the best shape of his life. Photo: Mike Fields

Paddle Healthy: Sean Poynter

After a month of intensive training and personalized fitness assessment at the New Zealand Starboard SUP Academy in January, World Tour standout Sean Poynter says he’s in the best shape of his life. He left the Academy with a new approach to health beyond just a physical change. Poynter also changed his mental habits, eating habits and lifestyle to reach a balance that optimizes his athletic prowess. Here, he breaks down just what happened to him at the Academy, and how it changed his take on health, fitness and mind control.

SUP: Tell us about your New Zealand training camp.

SP: I was sent to New Zealand with Connor Baxter, Zane Schweitzer and a handful of other Starboard athletes for this training program, and at first I didn't know what to expect. It was a school of learning about our bodies and training, testing the different aspects of our outer nervous system to find a balance that works best for each of us individually. We learned a ton about ourselves and our bodies, what makes us tick and how we need to tick. I took so much from it; it completely changed my life.

 What new fitness strategies are you implementing as a result of the Academy?

I'm doing a program to extend what I learned there, which is largely composed of different variations of paddling and running. The academy introduced me to a lot of new training elements that I'd never done before, and it taught me that simple exercises are best for what I'm trying to accomplish. It's a program that I now have to take on through the year so I'll be training in a way that promotes the best of me. To not overwork or underwork myself.

 How are you changing your diet?

The whole idea is simplification. You want to simplify your life as much as you can, and with that comes food. You are what you eat and there's no need to over complicate what you put in your body. That's why I'm making the switch to all organic. I'm eating good proteins and good carbs, not manufactured junk. I make sure it's fresh because that has a big effect on how your system processes food. I'm eating way cleaner, way more simply, and drinking a ton of water. I'll also be doing a three-month juice cleanse soon.

 What other techniques are you implementing into your training?

I've been doing Fartlek training, which is basically training tailored to every individual's level of output. By knowing what my body can put out, I can adjust my workout to train to maintain the desired balance. Along with paddling and running I do a lot of resistance stuff, like dragging a water bottle behind my board to add resistance while I paddle. I do a lot of running in intervals; going different percentages of my capacity. Also running stairs, running hills, fast walking, running in waste deep water, those kinds of things. Again, simple; running shoes and a paddleboard have me feeling stronger than I've ever felt.

How do you maintain your mental health, motivation and competitive focus?

Having a goal that I really care about is the number one thing that keeps me focused. For instance, I want to win a world title. I'm motivated and focused on achieving that. Also, I realized that I perform best when I'm in a calm state, so I'm now doing things like meditation, stretching, listening to a certain type of music that calms me. But it all comes back to having that one goal. Set a goal and from there it trickles down.

For more from SUP the mag on Sean Poynter, click here.

To learn more about Fartlek training and the methods employed by the Starboard SUP Academy, click here.