1 April 2014

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness

Let’s Go Surfing!
Ever wanted to try surfing but been too intimidated by waves, other surfers, or a general lack of know how? Don’t be! There are a great number of excellent surf schools out there and wonderful, passionate surfing instructors who know exactly how to get you into the water and standing on the board in just one lesson!

That was me a year ago. Intimidated. Having grown up by the beach, I was embarrassed to admit to a fear of waves, even rather piddling-sized ones. But a friend signed me up (the same friend who signed me up for a half-marathon mind!) and encouraged me to take those first steps. It was fantastic. We were in the water most of the time, but also on the sand, learning important things like how to read the current and how to stand up on the board correctly for best balance and stability. We also started with some stretching and strengthening exercises to prepare our bodies as surfing is a full body workout. It is not only about riding a wave, but also carrying the board and paddling it out from the break. A surf lesson is two hours of non stop physical activity which just feels like fun. I asked Craig Wachholtz, who runs Let’s Go Surfing at Bondi Beach, a few questions about teaching surfing.

Surfing at Bondi

What is the age range of your students? We say 7–70 years!! However we have had a few sneaky 4-year-olds and one fit 85-year-old!
How many people are there in a group lesson? Most surf schools have big group numbers. Our ratio at Bondi is generally 1:5 coach to student or you can request a private lesson for more specific instruction.
What is the first thing you teach about surfing? Have fun. Then have more fun. Then think about safety and respecting the ocean and your abilities, other surfers and swimmers and sea creatures; then we move onto actual techniques etc. paddling, standing, falling, catching waves etc.
How people can prepare themselves physically for surfing? Any exercise is good exercise but for surfing, swimming, paddling, push-ups, sit-ups, even running or walking are all good; a bit of yoga is great as well. But the best thing for surfing is surfing!
What fitness levels are appropriate to surfing? Surfing helps get you fit. It’s a workout in the water. Of course our instructors are extremely fit water men and women, but you can have fun at any fitness level challenging yourself.
Does your physical size matter? Anyone can try it and give it a go. Of course the fitter you are the easier it might be to master. However if you are challenged early on, you can simply start out lying down on a board catching a wave (like a body board) and then progress as you get stronger, fitter, wiser to standing. Basically if you can get to your feet on dry land, you can get to your feet in the surf (with a bit more difficulty).
What are some of the things people enjoy most about surfing? Its laid-back life-style, and the spiritual nature of immersing oneself in the ocean. It’s relaxing – you certainly get in the moment. It’s a fitness activity that doesn’t feel like it is; it’s a sport so you can get competitive if you like; it’s a social activity have a surf with new friends and have a natter! It makes you hungry for more. It’s challenging and helps you overcome fears and doubts.
Emma Sandall runs (with Peta Green) Body Playground, an online space for discovering how to put the fun back into your fitness routines. For tips on stretching or to learn a nice sequence you can do any time, any place, check out Vimeo.