The Fitness Workshop: Surfing
There must be a good reason why I ever considered spending an afternoon in the sea at this time of year.
Despite the chill, it turns out that October is prime time for surfing: the beaches are less crowded – sunbathers have been replaced by dog-walkers – the water temperature is just about bearable when you’re swaddled in a wetsuit, and the regular swells create gentle, spilling waves that are perfect for learners.
With the prospect of spending the winter months working out in my crowded local gym, I wanted to do something outdoors before the clocks go back.
As I was a total beginner to the sport, I began with basics. Step one: how to put on a wetsuit (wriggling in is a mini workout in itself). Special waterproof shoes protect my feet, while clear surfer sun cream is greased across my face (UV rays streak through breaks in the clouds, and normal, white sun cream runs in the water, apparently). Looking and feeling the part, it was time to step onto the surfboard – first, on the safety of land, in a specially designed sand pit at
After learning where to place my feet on the board, and how to bring your body up from the paddling position, it was time to try it in the water. Stepping with the board into the Atlantic, it quickly became apparent that moving quickly and stylishly from board to fully upright was going to take a lot of practice. I was also going to need stronger arm and chest muscles to survive repeatedly pushing up off the board.
“Surfing offers a great upper body workout,” says Carlo. “While you use your legs, the constant paddling through the waves and pushing up from the body means you end up with great definition in your arms and chest.”
Thanks to expert instruction, I was – by the end of the day – standing up on the board unaided. It was certainly more difficult in the shallows than in the sand pit, but falling off into the waves was all part of the fun. When I did stand up, it was all the more rewarding.
Surfing is definitely an all-body workout, but I was so consumed in the sport that I didn’t notice the muscles working until the next day, when my arms refused to bend and my thighs felt like massive blocks of ice. The seawater exfoliation also did me good, as did the hearty dose of fresh air. I felt as healthy as the surf instructors looked.
Learning to surf was definitely the kick-start my body needed. Over the coming months, when it’s dark outside and I’m pounding the treadmill and pumping weights in the gym, I’ll be doing it to get myself in perfect shape for a surfing spring break.