I have been working out on the beach lately. I’m talking about more than just a powerwalk or run. My workout includes push-ups, crunches, planks and burpees, all which require getting down and dirty. At first, I took an exercise mat to avoid lying directly on the beach becoming covered in sand. However, in doing set after set, I realized I was going to get sandy—extremely sandy—no matter what.
Some people avoid the beach because they despise getting sandy. I understand the aversion. It is a dubious task to lay a beach towel out without getting sand all over it; you might as well forget about it if it’s a windy day. By the time you get all four corners down, battling the wind to anchor each with one sandy foot, one sandy hand and a pair of sandy shoes, the towel is covered in sand. Then, the brilliant idea comes to walk to the water and rinse off. Nope. Bad Idea—the wetter you are, the more the sand resembles cling wrap.
My family vacationed at the beach—Edisto Island— every summer of my life. I remember playing in the surf for so long every single day that I would walk back to the house with the crotch of my bathing suit sagging half way down my thighs because is was full of sand. Mind you, the sand at Edisto is not soft and powdery; it is ground shells that are abrasive and intensely adhesive. It sticks to bare, sweaty skin tighter than gorilla glue. Granted, I was maybe only four or five years old, but nonetheless, the massive sand-filled crotch aggravated me…literally.
So, my dilemma with lying on the sand during workouts is deep-rooted in fear of accumulation in all the wrong places. Sand-filled crotches are not as acceptable among the 40-something crowd. Case-in-point: The other evening was very windy. I could actually see—and feel— the sand hovering and crawling just above the ground, stinging my ankles as it passed. My daughter had taken her shoes off, and it took the three of us to get my friend’s exercise mat flat onto the beach. Within 15 minutes, my daughter’s sandals were almost covered up and the blue mat had turned khaki. Needless to say, at the end of this workout, I was engulfed in sand, which translated into my car being engulfed, as well. Even my scalp was full of sand.
Nonetheless, humans have a love-hate relationship with sand. As children we long to envelop ourselves in the sand at the beach, digging deep holes and building massive sand castles. We gladly submerse both our bodies and imaginations in a sandbox. But as adults, we become less tolerant and more bothered by this sand trap. However, in lying on the cool, damp, bare sand over the last four weeks, with no towel or mat, I have come to find the beauty of this element that clings so desperately to my skin. I would like to share with you my positives of the sand in hopes that you will brush off your intolerance and embrace this pesky, yet lovable, element of nature.
1) It is much better to be covered in sand than mosquitos. No one can disagree with this statement. You know it’s true, so guess what. Sand has just been elevated on your like list.
2) It vacuums right up. Sand is only pesky when it’s damp. Once dry, it is easy to brush off and vacuum up. Come on. You’re at the beach. It’s OK to track a little sand into the house.
3) Sand is a natural exfoliator. Sure, you can pay for a sugar or salt scrub, or you can just go roll around on the beach for a few minutes. It’s so effective as an exfoliator, I have lost most of the outer layer of skin on my elbows doing walk out planks.
4) If you take up walking on the beach be prepared to gain strength in your calf muscles. Sand makes it more difficult to walk, having to dig in and push off. After a month or two, voila…cut calves. Very sexy.
5) Sand can be art. I have seen some of the most beautiful patterns and ridges formed in the sand by the force of the tides. It’s one of nature’s beautiful wonders in which to marvel.
6) You can write messages in the sand to people you love. Remember in middle school when your spiral notebooks were covered in doodles, stating emphatically who you loved. You can do the same thing in the sand, snap a photo and send it to your honey. How romantic is that?
7) The best part about sand is its location; it’s at the beach! No matter how sandy, salty or sticky you get at the beach, your soul is always the better for it.
Now what do you think? Are you beginning to appreciate the sand a little more? Let me remind you what’s worse than sand: pet hair. Try brushing your black lab off of your white jeans. No such luck, uhh? What about lint? It’s much more annoying than sand. Sap…don’t get me started! I live in an area named Pineland. I’ll take the sand any day.
In fact, I take the sand every day and I love it. It feels so good to just lie in the sand, look to the sky, listen to the waves and just be. Somehow, the sand protects us from the worries of the world. Worries aren’t allowed at the beach. It’s like there is an invisible shield you pass through when walking the path toward the shore that checks your worries. Sure, you can claim them when you leave, but in the words of Zac Brown:
"I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand,
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand.
Life is good today. Life is good today."
Welcome summer and welcome to the beach! Now go get dirty.