Ship Shape: Meet Harry Legum, personal trainer to Annapolis's sailing stars

by Rosemary Harty
(article from Chesapeake Life Magazine)

If Jahn Tihansky was a little disappointed at finishing mid-fleet at the 505 World Championships in August, he sure couldn©t blame it on his physical condition.

Thanks to personal trainer Harry Legum, Tihansky was fit and ready for the demands of sailing the high-performance seventeen-footer in the Pacific Ocean. But before he found Legum, Tihansky©s zeal for working out had never quite matched his love for sailing. ©I needed someone to help me get over the hump psychologically,© he says, ©not just tell me what exercises to do. I needed inspiration and a drill sergeant.©

Legum, a forty-year-old Annapolis native and former Army paramedic, works at the Annapolis Athletic Club (AAC), where, in addition to his member clients, he trains about twenty of the local racing elite, tailoring workouts to the needs of each individual sailor as well as giving guidance on stretching, nutrition, and mental preparedness. ©High-caliber racing requires a lot of athletic skill,© Legum says. ©And if your body©s not up to it, you©re going to get hurt.©

In response to his growing clientele of sailors trying to gain a competitive edge through fitness, he created Annapolis Sailing Fitness (, which offers sailing-specific fitness. The workouts, which range from $70 to $120 per session, duplicate the rigors of sailing and are customized to a client©s role on a boat. For bowmen, he works on back, bicep, and shoulder strength used in hoisting a spinnaker pole or halyard. For a sail trimmer who spends his time cranking winches, he focuses on upper-body strength. But for all sailors, improving balance and core strength is key.

He introduced his new company to the sailing community with a free workshop in July. ©People had never seen anything like it before,© says Legum, who trains at the club, at a client©s house, or via e-mail consultations. ©People were telling me, ©It©s about time. You©re the perfect person for it.© Not to have an ego trip, but I©m passionate about this--very enthusiastic.©

Legum, who has been in the personal training biz for the past sixteen years, knows a lot about what the human body and mind can do together. Although he©s spent most of his professional life working in Atlanta, he©s no stranger to the sailing scene, having spent his childhood aboard Hobie Cats and windsurfers on the Bay and the South River. An avid road-biker who works in his own hour-long weight-training regime weekly between clients, Legum is far from the stereotypical super-fit meathead. In between coaxing a client through one more rep or correcting their technique on the Bosu ball, he©s quick with pep talks peppered with thoughts on self-discipline, Gandhi, the Bible, and Buddhism. And he©s also a good listener, taking time to find out what©s going on in his clients© heads as well as their bodies. ©Being successful in what I do is all about getting to know people,© he says.

Volvo and America©s Cup sailor Terry Hutchinson began working with Legum last spring; he©s currently training with him in preparation for his next gig as tactician with Team New Zealand in the 2007 America©s Cup. ©I knew I was not in the shape I should be,© says Hutchinson, who lives in Annapolis. ©Harry is high-energy all the time, and he never lets you rest. He©s really been instrumental in getting me ready. His strength is his ability to recognize the type of person he works with very quickly and tailor their workout.©

Sailors of all ages--and fitness levels--are finding their way to Legum. And he loves the challenge. ©I©ve always admired people who are passionate about what they do,© he says, ©and I©m passionate, too.©