Surfing is a sport that’s enjoyed by everyone, from young children having fun to a retirement bucket list activity. My oldest client was 75 years of age! Whatever your reason for learning to surf, you should take the steps before heading to your first lessons to prepare and to be sure to get the most from the exciting experience.
Kids are usually active and athletic by nature but as adults, we tend to fear the unknown and can quite easily find ourselves stuck behind a desk most of the time. Surfing is a sport with different components of exercise and practices and this is what makes it so fun and rewarding when everything comes together! The first wave especially as it is one you will remember for many years to come! But can we really expect to rock up to the lesson or surf camp and hope to pick it up with ease when the only activity we get is walking up the stairs? Sadly, the answer is no.
Now I am not saying that none of us participate in sports and fitness activities to stay in shape, anything that keeps you mobile and healthy is a great start but from my experience, not even the most athletic persons that have turned up for one of my lessons found it easy. I once had a professional footballer for a lesson, an amazing athlete in great shape but ultimately still found it hard from the start. Surfing is a very muscle-specific sport which is why I have come up with a few easy activities and workouts you can do before heading to your Surf lessons.
Push-ups are a great bodyweight activity, you don’t need any equipment and all you need is find space on the floor. In surfing, we require strength in our upper body for multiple reasons, a) we use our arms to paddle, b) we need strength to pop ourselves up from laying on the board to standing on our feet. It takes many attempts of “Popping up” to finally find our balance and ride the wave whilst standing on our feet, and if we can only manage 3-4 push-ups before our arms get tired, this is going to halt our progress significantly. We don’t need to be doing reps of 50-60 by any means. Just enough to get our upper body muscles working and strengthening so we can really kick on without getting tired so fast. For more on Push-up techniques, see this video
Although it may seem we do not use our legs in surfing as much as our upper body, this is actually not entirely true. When standing on your surfboard your legs will not be straight, We always have our knees slightly bent for balance and manoeuvrability. This won’t be an uncomfortable squat position, but we will be transitioning our weight between our front foot and back foot for speed control and balance as we progress. Lunges can be done at home and just using our own bodyweight. Again, if our leg muscles are not used to being worked so much then we need to wake up those muscles and strengthen them slightly. For lunge techniques see this cool video
Unless you are lucky enough to have a pool in your back yard, then this one can’t be done at home I am afraid. But pools can be found at almost every gym and failing that, there is always the ocean if you have access and can brave cooler temperatures! (myself excluded). I have even taught many students who can’t swim, how to surf. So do not think that just because you can’t swim, you cannot enjoy surfing! (Up to a certain level and informing your Instructor of this for safety reasons of course!) So I really do mean it when I say “surfing is for everyone!” But swimming ahead of time before your lessons will give you an advantage. It isn’t exactly the same as paddling on a surfboard, but nice overarm strokes will wake up muscles related to paddling such as deltoids, triceps and back muscles. The more you can set yourself up for paddling, the more waves you will catch! See the perfect technique here
Now, this is not specifically one activity as it can be a range of things. But balance is crucial for surfing. For your first lesson, you will be riding a “foamy”, which is a big soft board (commonly made from foam material hence the name). They are designed to float and for you to paddle easily on, but it does require balance! Waves can seem a little wobbly at times, so we need to give ourselves a head start on balance practice.
- Yoga is a great activity that compliments surfing very well due to the core engaging poses that it offers.
- Skateboarding is a great simulator for surfing due to its feeling being similar to that of a wave.
- The Indo Board is a great piece of equipment to have even if you already know how to surf but don’t have access to surfing regularly or for preparing us for balance techniques. Watch this video to get started
As with most things in life, preparing ourselves ahead of time is key to being successful and surfing is no different. This will not make you a superstar straight away, but I am sharing these tips with you as I want to help you embrace and enjoy your first surf lesson and to hit the ground running to help you flourish with a sport I know you will fall in love with!