Extreme Travel | Adventure Sports

How to… get surf fit

Want to get into shape for the surf season? Our expert guide shows you how to do it
© Mike Baird

For those who love surfing but hate the cold and can’t afford to spend the long British winter catching waves in warmer climes, long gaps between surf breaks could spell disaster. By the time their next surf trip comes around, they’re likely not only to have forgotten what it’s like to catch a wave, but also how fit they need to be to enjoy a day on a board.

Until now, the dilemma has been solved in two ways: either by donning a wetsuit and gritted teeth in the chilly depths off Cornwall’s coast or by shelling out not inconsiderable amounts of cash to spend a few hours at the mercy of one of the UK’s surf machines. But neither option offers what many people love about surfing – the chance to paddle out into warm waters wearing nothing but board shorts, sunscreen and a smile before riding a wave that lands them back on a sun-soaked beach.

Thankfully, there is now a third way – a compromise that means fair-weather surfers can avoid both frostbite and bankruptcy yet still start the season toned, honed and ready to ride without a wetsuit in sight. Oddly, there’s no sea involved either but there is lots of sweating, stretching and strength training, all of which prime your body for a day’s surfing.

This third way takes the form of a newly devised gym class appropriately named the Roxy Beach Body Workout, the result of collaboration between the popular surf lifestyle brand and Virgin Active’s fitness experts. The workout focuses on improving strength, balance, flexibility and power, all fundamental elements of the ‘pop-up’ move that has surfers going from paddling on their stomachs to poised and upright within milliseconds.

Aimed at surfers and non-surfers alike, the body-conditioning class is made up of three sections:

  • An energetic warm-up
  • Aerobic moves that challenge surf-specific muscles
  • A yoga sequence designed to stretch those muscles.

While many of the workout’s circuit moves depend on specific gym equipment to recreate the sensation of paddling, balancing on the board and riding waves, there are plenty of moves a non-gym member can incorporate into their workout to get them surf ready.

Try including the following moves for two minutes each next time you work out.

1. Squats

Performed with feet hip-width apart and arms straight out in front of you – will leave your legs and glutes aching, but strengthens your muscles for great board control, stronger swimming and better pop-ups.

2. Hip extensions

Place your hands and knees on the floor and slowly lift one leg up at a 90-degree angle, squeezing your buttocks, before slowly lowering the leg back to the floor. Repeat on the other side for a toned bum and strengthened core and upper body.

3. Side lunges

Starting with your feet together, take a big step to one side, bending the knee of the leg that you’ve stepped on, while pushing your bum backwards. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side for legs that will keep you upright on even the roughest waves.

4. Gliding

Best performed on a smooth surface, start on your hands and knees then push your hands away from you as far as you can before holding for a few seconds then drawing them outwards in a semicircle towards your legs before sliding them up, in line with your chest, and return to the first position. Keep your pelvis tucked under and your core engaged for maximum impact.

5. The Pop-Up

The essential surfing move requires stamina, speed, agility and strength. Lying facedown with straight legs, draw your hands under your shoulders and press them into the floor as you raise your head and shoulders. Then, in one motion, raise yourself to a half-standing position, with hips square, legs bent and feet wide apart. Your arms should be bent at the elbows while you look over the front knee, in a surfer’s stance.

The full Roxy Beach Body Workout is available to members in all Virgin Active Health Clubs nationwide. Visit www.virginactive.co.uk for more information.