How to Get Fit for Surfing

I own and run a surf travel company on Australia’s Gold Coast. My business basically pulls together all the services offered on the Gold Coast that a travelling surfer needs. We then go the extra step of renting our surfboards to our clients, for the duration of their holiday. The idea is simple, we want to ensure our clients have the surfing holiday of their life, without the hassle of sorting out the logistics when they arrive.

One of the great things about this business is I deliver the surfboards myself. This gives me the opportunity to have a brief chat with every surfer coming through the Gold Coast using my services. I really enjoy this part of the business as being a surfer myself, I enjoy the contact with people who have a similar passion to mine. Also, it gives me the opportunity to get into the heads of my clients, so I can understand what their expectations are for their surfing holiday and can continually improve my services based on their desires.

“I wish I was a little bit fitter for this holiday”, so many of my clients tell me when returning their surfboards. This is the number 1 desire of the travelling surfers who use my services. The want a higher level of surfing fitness for their holidays. It makes sense really. When you go on a surfing trip, you end up surfing 2 – 3 times a day, which will probably equates to 4 – 6 hours a day in th water. This you do consistently over a period of 5 – 10 days. It is a lot of surfing. No matter how much you surf at home, you will be surfing more when on holiday.

So what is the best way to get fit for a big surf holiday while you are busy back at home, with all the pressures and distraction every day living brings? We believe there are 3 things you should do. The first 2 should be part of your long term commitment to personal health and fitness and the last is aimed at giving you a real fitness boost before you go on holiday.

The first thing you need to take care of is your general level of endurance. You need to be fit enough to go hard for 10 – 15 minutes minimum as often this is the minimum paddling requirement for getting through the breakers and out the back. I believe this fitness requirement needs to be a little more specific than “general endurance”. I believe you need to have a base level of “water endurance” or water fitness. Surfers and swimmers have an inate feel for the water. It is very different to exercising on land. It has a different type of co-ordination and efficiency. The fittest runner can be a disaster in the water, burning up all their energy and getting nowhere.

So to cover off this requirement, you should be swimming or surfing at least twice a week, every week of the year. Do not leave it till a month before your holidays, it is impossible to develop water fitness in such a small span of time. If you love surfing, you will love the water. Make it a part of your life. Then, in the month leading up to your holiday, increase you workload by 1 or 2 sessions a week and make your sessions much more intensive. This will give you a little fitness boost pre-arrival.

The second key to surfing fitness is flexibility, balance and core strength. Once again, this is not something you want to leave till the last minute, rather something you want to develop over time as part of your commitment to surfing, health and fitness. Yoga is the answer here. Yoga is so good for surfing fitness, it is almost as if it was invented purely with the surfer in mind. Not only does yoga help you improve your flexibility, balance and core strength, it also re-aligns and re-balances your body back into its natural and healthy position, away from the imbalanced position which surfing causes. For example, even the simple act of paddling requires you to over-arch your back, creating a distortion in the development of your back muscles. Yoga sorts all these types of issues out, as well as conditioning your body. My advice, get yourself a surf specific yoga DVD and do it 2 or 3 times a week.

The final thing you can do is a surf specific, functional training program. If you have taken care on the first and second items above, surf specific training is the ideal pre holiday fitness preparation. It should be short, (Ie a fitness program which runs from 4 – 12 weeks) it should gradually increase in intensity over those weeks and it should be designed specifically for the muscles you use in the water. The point with such a training program is to give your surf specific fitness a massive boost prior to arriving on your holiday. You’ve got your base level of fitness sorted out already by ensuring point 1 and 2 above are part of your lifestyle. This training program recognises though, that there will be a short period of time where you will need a higher level of fitness (Ie. For those long sessions while on holiday) and prepares you specifically with those higher needs in mind.

I hope this helps you prepare for your next surfing trip where ever it may be. We all know training can sometimes be a bit of a drag, just remember how much more fun those surfing days are when the waves, your skill and your body all come together at the same time, so you can catch that elusive perfect wave.

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