A little yoga will help Quirks & Quarks host on the yawl

Power Crunch gets expert feedback on a different workout routine every week.
This week, Bob McDonald, host of the CBC Radio show Quirks & Quarks and a
science correspondent for CBC’s The National, shares his exercise regimen.

Bob McDonald, host of the CBC Radio show Quirks & Quarks and a science
correspondent for CBC’s The National, lifts 20 tonnes nightly. Well, sort
of. He’s the owner of a Hughes 48-foot, two-masted yawl moored in Toronto
Harbour. Mr. McDonald takes his boat out “every night when there’s good
weather. She’s always ready to go.”

My Goal

“I want to look better on camera. I’ve been noticing I’m a little softer
than I’d like to be. I don’t want to be big, but I do like to be a little
firmer than I am.”

My Workout

“Sailing is physically demanding. … I’ve got to be fast: There’s a lot of
running around on deck without tripping on cables and sheets and lines.
She’s got three sails and they’ve all got to be winched up. When you dock
you’ve got to bring all those sails back down again. You’ve got to wrap them
around the boom and tie them off.


“When she lands I’ve got to jump onto the deck and tie her up really
fast. It’s a lot of leaping and climbing and winching and pulling, and it’s
really fun.”

My Lifestyle

Mr. McDonald has a naturally thin body and enough restless energy to power
him through a demanding cross-country TV and radio schedule. “I have two
morbid fears: growing fat and growing bored.” At 57, he doesn’t seem a
likely candidate for either.

“I don’t go to a gym. I’ve never liked rooms full of sweaty people. Running
(and not going anywhere) just doesn’t do it for me. I bicycle to work. When
I walk, I walk fast. I take the stairs. I move a lot. I think I forget to
eat. I’ll skip meals. I’ve never had a gigantic appetite; halfway through a
plate I’m already full.”

My Motivation

“[The] sails fill with air and they become beautiful curves. Everything on a
boat is a curve: the sails, the shape of the hull, the way the hull moves
through the water. You are capturing the wind – you’re just borrowing it –
and when you get it right there’s a very fine balance. … You’re in tune
with the boat, the waters [and] the waves. You’re connected to nature in a
very elegant way, and you can go places. …

“I sailed to the Bahamas and when I arrived in Nassau I went by these big
cruise ships … and I thought, yeah, but I got here on my own! It felt so
good to do that. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment. So while it’s
physically demanding, it’s also supremely relaxing.”

My Anthem

“I like being totally silent out there.”

My Challenges

“Overcoming joints that are getting increasingly noisy.”

Mr. McDonald says his muscles have never given him trouble.

“It’s always been joints. I mainline ibuprofen. … I can already see old
age getting closer and, man, I just don’t want to be slow and incapable.”

The Critique

O Lucky Man!

Barrie Shepley knows good genes when he sees them. He’s a former Olympic
coach and a CBC commentator at the Games in Beijing.

“Bob is an example of a guy who gets away with great genetics for a long
time. Bob now needs to support his great genetics with a few specific health
strategies to make sure he is able to sustain his active lifestyle.”

Mr. McDonald could reap “total body benefits” from swimming, which doesn’t
place any stress on the joints, Mr. Shepley said.

Come Sail Away

Before the next sailing season begins, Mr. Shepley encourages Mr. McDonald
to take up a five- to six-week pre-season strength program:

Three sets of 10 reps each: seated low row or low-pulley, lat pull-down,
push-ups;

One or two sets of two to five chin-ups;

Four sets of 15 reps: abdominal/core exercises;

Three sets of 10 lunges (each leg).

No skipping meals

Mr. Shepley suggests eating small meals frequently. “It will speed up his
metabolism … plus the consistent calories to his brain [will] keep him
fresh.”

Mr. McDonald can grab healthy snacks such as veggies, pretzels, fruit or
granola.

Put your back into it

Taking into account his age and “all the twisting and turning” sailing
demands, Mr. Shepley says Mr. McDonald could face back problems. A
10-minute, core-strength routine from a yoga DVD two or three times a week
will help prevent injuries. Good posture will give his body an instant
boost.

Bonus: He can do it anywhere, even in the middle of the ocean.

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