The Surf Gym … Fad or Fab?

Could I gracefully lift weights, do Pilates, and surf … at the same time? Ummm … no.

Let me begin by telling you that the friend who brought me to my first surf gym is the same spin addict who told me, reassuringly (when she convinced me to try my first spin class): “You won’t die.” Now there’s an endorsement.

Her new addiction is City Surf Fitness – the only gym in our neighborhood that’s always packed. Every time I walk by, the people inside seem to be having a blast. There’s music and laughter and what looks like fun. So I decided to give it a try.

When I walked into the studio, the first thing I noticed is that everyone there was ripped. I’m not talking yoga fit, I’m talking these-people-are-obviously-athletes fit. They all balanced on their surfboards with ease and comfort, stretching out and chatting. I stood on my surfboard awkwardly, not quite knowing how to find my center.

A quick peek under my board confirmed that it was resting on what look like small yoga balls, which allowed it to sink from side to side and front to back as I shifted my weight. What looked like Pilates ropes hung from the ceiling above each of us. And there was a pile of weights at the top of each board, each one a different ergonomic-looking shape.

The instructor strode in and literally sprang onto his board, miked up and ready to lead us, a giant smile on his tanned face. What transpired over the next hour was a blur. We started on our bellies on the boards, doing what I can only describe as the same movement surfers do when they’re paddling out furiously to catch a giant wave. It made me giggle.

As soon as my body would get the hang of what we were doing, we’d move into something completely different. We squatted on the boards as if we were surfing in chair pose, then we quickly moved into what seemed like Warrior III, then we picked up our weights and did a series of arm reps, then we grabbed the ropes and worked those in gravity-defying ways, then back to yoga-esque squats, weights, Pilates ropes … all while balancing on our surfboards. Our instructor ended by doing a handless headstand on his board. Everybody cheered and whooped it up and (I liked to imagine) trotted outside for their daily 10-mile run.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I’d done 1,001 sit ups. (Hello core!) My surf gym experience was challenging; it was a good practice in humility and patience. I reminded myself that our bodies take a while to learn new movements – even 25+ years of yoga practice didn’t mean I could gracefully lift weights, do Pilates, and surf … at the same time. I’m not sure if surf gyms will take off and become more than a fleeting fad, but I still had fun. I vote Fab.

I’ve tried Parkour, sound bathing, floatation therapy, Yoga Rocks the Park, forest bathing, and nasal irrigation (on my honeymoon, no less!) and shared my experience, all for you. Consider me your BBL guinea pig. Is there a new wellness trend you’re curious about but maybe not quite ready to try yourself? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best!


Photo Credit: tatsmis/

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