Windsurfing Magazine




Ali Yates joins Boards to explain how windsurfing can be a fantastic aid to weight loss, if you do it right.

Ali has been a windsurfing fanatic for as long as she can remember but after gaining five stone she packed up her board and thought it was the end of her windsurfing days. However…. after losing two stone she gingerly stepped back on board. Now five stone lighter Ali is competing on the international circuit and her love affair with windsurfing has been reborn.

“I’ve been windsurfing for a long time. It started when I was saving up my paper round money to go see Bros (the boy band of the 80’s!) and ended up buying my very first board instead!

“In 2000 I found myself running a Watersports centre, Astbury Sailsports in Congleton in the North West. At the same time I had just left home so being busy and not being able to cook I began to gain weight. It was just too easy to pop to the Indian restaurant, join the other instructors at Subway or McDonalds or to eat at the pub after work.

“I have always loved to teach windsurfing whatever my size but as my weight gained I became self-conscious out on the water. I started coaching from a powerboat rather than from a board and although I always had great enthusiasm for the sport, I did stop enjoying windsurfing as my hobby and began to believe that I couldn’t do it anymore.

“Now I know I was simply underpowered because of the weight I was carrying. At this point I had gained five stone so of course I was going to need more sail to be able to plane! One positive is that I now understand the growing pains of the kids in my race squads and I always encourage them to get onto the right sail size as soon as possible.

‘As my own personal windsurfing declined so did any kind of exercise. The Watersports centre grew bigger and busier and I spent all my time running the business rather than being out on the water teaching. Unfortunately, I was also losing the enthusiasm for my sport and as I packed away the windsurfing kit that had kept me active for so long, I failed to noticed how unfit I had become. I even started looking for another career thinking it was over and that I was too old. How wrong could I have been!

“I finally realised something had to change so I joined a Slimming World group and we started talking about “Body Magic” awards. This encouraged me to start to gradually build activity back into my life with 15 minute walks from my house, Zumba classes and fun social exercise with my friends.

“Initially windsurfing wasn’t in my plan as fitness as I still wasn’t switched back onto it but I will never forget the day that I hopped back on a board and had the sail of my life. I was on holiday in Dahab and at this point I had lost two and a half stone. That first sail back was like being reborn. I remembered that wonderful feeling of well-being that windsurfing gives you and I absolutely loved it. I was back!

“The next thing I knew I was entering the World Championships in Holland thanks to encouragement from coaches and the parents and kids I coached in the RYA Zone Squad. It seemed a crazy idea to go and enter the open fleet, well in fact it was it was crazy, but it turned out to be a fantastic experience.

“Windsurfing was now giving me something to train for and once again I felt I had a goal and a focus. I had to start practice what I had been preaching to the kids for the past nine years. I was even known to go for the odd run which would have been unheard of before-unless a car was coming!

“I achieved my Slimming World 5 stone award in May 2012. It was actually a double celebration as it was just in time for the National Consultant Slimmer of the year awards and I had reached the National Semi-finals. The Slimming World journey is still a big part of how I coach sailing and windsurfing today and I believe we all need encouragement in whatever mountains we are climbing, whether it be losing weight or winning a medal at the world championships.

I gave up running the Watersports centre and became a part time freelance coach alongside running my own Slimming World group. After my life had changed so dramatically, I loved helping others achieve dreams too and this was my plan for a career change.

“Recently I have given the Slimming World group up as amazing opportunities have arisen in my coaching career including coordinating events for Team15 in the West. I’m hoping to see more youngsters following the RYA Pathway and becoming involved with the nationwide windsurfing community.

“Thanks to last year’s crazy entry to the Worlds Championships, this year I was also asked by the Techno Class Association (TCA) to go back to Poland as the TCA head coach. We had an amazing time with one of the girls coming home with a medal for Team GBR.

“My advice for people who are aiming to lose weight is that you have to want to do it for yourself. There is a big difference between “needing” to do something and “wanting” to make the changes to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

“Windsurfing itself is great exercise all-round and so much fun! I’m not one for spending hours in a gym as I prefer to be outside and afloat whenever I can. Aside from the physical aspect, it also clears my mind. My focus is now making and enjoying healthy food choices and continuing to improve my fitness so I can make the most of the days I spend out on the water.

Fitness Facts

• Windsurfing uses all of your main muscle groups, especially glutes, hamstrings and quads. By windsurfing you will tone your back, your arms, your legs, and last but not least, your stomach – kiss goodbye to your belly!

• Learning to balance on the board builds your ‘core stability’, engaging your deep postural muscles, strengthening the muscles that give you the definition of a waist!

• If you fall in while learning, don’t be disheartened, falling off the board means you are constantly pulling yourself out of the water which works your arms and increases your calorie output, while toning your arms!!

• The average recreational windsurfer burns around 500 calories an hour, with an average a heart rate range of 110-175 bpm.

• TOP FACT Olympic Medalist Nick Dempsey is believed to have the aerobic fitness similar to that of a marathon runner

For more information about Ali Yates visit

If you would like to find out more about Windsurfing visit or for more information about Team15 visit

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