Question of the Day

Hi. I was recently contacted by the Junior National team because they want me as a cox for this year. I am so honored however I am scared that I am too heavy. I don’t know what I would be coxing and at the moment I am around 128 pounds. I feel as though because I focus so much of my life on a sport that does not require me to be active, I have slowly lost my fitness. I am going on a big trip this summer as well and am scared that I will gain weight while traveling. Do you have a good solid work out routine that can be done in a short period of time?

International rules state that you can’t cox the opposite sex so if you’re a guy you’d cox men and if you’re a girl you’d cox the women. This would mean that you’d need to be at or as close as possible to international racing weight, which for women is 50kg/110.2lbs and 55kg/121.25lbs for men.

This is coming straight from the section on coxswains from the JNT website:

Please note: We are looking for coxswains who can comfortably manage the international racing weight standard of 110.2 for women and 121.5 for men.

Now, don’t take this wrong way – I’m going to tell you exactly what I would expect/assume the JNT coaches to tell you. Being a coxswain comes with a lot of responsibilities, monitoring our weight when it’s necessary being one of them. In the beginning it’s not as important but as you progress through the sport and start coxing more competitive crews, it does become very important. I’ve said this many, many, many times – we have a purpose in the boat, yes, but no matter how you look at it or what way you try to spin it, we are dead weight. When you’re hauling dead weight, you want to haul as little as possible. That’s why short, petite people are chosen to be coxswains and why we’re “encouraged” to stay as close to the minimum racing weight as possible. Yea, it’s annoying, but it’s part of the job.

You signed up and went through the whole ID camp process which meant that at the very least you thought you had a chance of being invited to selection camp. When you did that and throughout the winter and spring you should have been keeping an eye on your weight, regardless of whether your were at, above, or below the minimum at the time. I really, really disagree with what you said about focusing so much on a sport that doesn’t require you to be active. That’s no excuse. There are plenty of opportunities to work out with the team when they’re lifting, running, doing calisthenics, core, etc., in addition to making time to work out on your own. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to be willing to put the time and effort in from the start, not at the last minute.

It’s not all about exercising either. You can work out all you want but if your diet is bad, you’re negating any gains you would have gotten from the exercise. There has to be a two-part approach/commitment to losing weight: one, adjusting your diet and two, exercising. Cardio is everyone’s best friend when they’re trying to lose weight, so running, biking, swimming, erging, etc. As far as gaining weight while traveling, you just have to be conscious about what you’re doing. I’m not going to say you should question whether you want those French pastries more than you want to cox the JNT because that’d make me a hypocrite and an asshole but my theory on stuff like this is that if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make things work.

I would suggest getting a hold of the coaches who sent you the invite and talking to them about any concerns you have. You’re obviously a good coxswain otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten the invite but I’m not going to lie to you and say that excellent coxing is going to win out over weight all the time, especially when you’re competing at this level. The coaches wouldn’t have emphasized the part I quoted a few paragraphs ago if it wasn’t part of their consideration for who makes the final boats. You essentially have to always assume that given the choice between two coxswains of equal skill, the coxswain who is closest to or will have the least difficult time maintaining their racing weight will be the one chosen. I don’t mean to say that to make you lose hope or anything, it’s just one of those harsh realities that people tend to gloss over or that coaches don’t fully explain, which ends up making people way worse than if they’d just known the rationale ahead of time.

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