Last summer I took up kiteboarding—a sport not unlike windsurfing, only the board is smaller and the sail is a parabolic kite you fly from 65-foot (20-meter) lines. After my first few sessions, I learned that (a.) head-to-toe lactic-acid paralysis strikes even those athletes whose primary concern is staying upright and (b.) if I wanted to survive a week-long kiting trip in Mexico, I needed help getting up to speed.
Online coaching sites have been around since the late 1990s, but until recently they've mainly targeted hard-core triathletes and marathoners looking to better their personal records. Today, however, sites such as GymAmerica.com and Carmichael Training Systems (www.trainright.com) are rolling out streaming video, personalized nutrition analysis, and increased "human contact" to lure average folks with tight schedules and diverse interests.
For me, a travel junkie, going virtual is a no-brainer—the Web is everywhere, and so, too, will be my trainer. I just hope I won't be stuck with a one-size-fits-all program that keeps me on the losing end of a tug-of-war with my kite.
Step 1: The Evaluation: Your trainer will Google you now
I opt for Carmichael Training Systems, founded in 1999 by Chris Carmichael, who coached Lance Armstrong through six Tour de France victories. To begin, I plunk down the $149 monthly fee for a middle-tier program that offers unlimited interaction with a coach, fill out an eight-page questionnaire, and, 24 hours later, get a call from my new trainer.
Nick White, 26, is based at Carmichael headquarters, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has certifications from both the USA Triathlon and USA Track & Field governing bodies. Though that's all I'll ever learn about White, I find myself trusting him immediately: He's a triathlete and a competitive cyclist, while I have a hard time hanging on to my kite for more than 20 minutes straight.
White admits this is his first time designing a training regimen for kiteboarding and says that he's already Googled the sport to figure out which muscle groups to target. Googled? I recently Googled "ACL" looking for knee info and was linked to the Association for Computational Linguistics. Nevertheless, White's findings are impressive. As he rattles off muscle groups, I realize he's recounting in detail the anatomy of my post-kiting fatigue.
"We should focus on your core section: abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, lower back," he says. "And since you travel a lot, I will build a whole program that you can take on the road."
Step 1: The Evaluation | Step 2: The Routine | Step 3: The Fine-Tuning
Pick up the February 2006 issue for 36 amazing Hawaiian adventures, the most spectacular treks in Australia, 11 weekend escapes near you, and more.