Surfing is simply the most enjoyable thing you can do to get fit and stay in shape. You don’t have to do any preparation in order to come to Nosara and have a lot of fun surfing with us though. We teach people from 14 to 70, some of whom do not do a stroke of exercise and it’s not even a problem if you can’t swim either. Having said that, the better you get, the more fun it is and doing a few simply things to get in shape before you come can prevent your fitness from being the limning factor which prevented you progressing.
You can have a lot of fun surfing in waist deep water (level 1 surfing) but the day will come when you’ll want to paddle out a bit further and that’s when the swimmers have a head start. The nice thing about swimming is that you’ll get really good at it really quickly. Get to your local pool a couple of times a week in the month leading up to your trip and the pay off will be huge.
If you’ve never done any swimming before here’s how to get started. The stroke you need for surfing is front crawl (sometimes called freestyle). Find someone at your local pool who can watch you do a few lengths and give you a couple of pointers on your technique, consider having a few swimming lessons too. On Day 1 you may be exhausted after one length and you’ll wonder whether it’s really for you. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Day 2 you’ll be able to do two or three laps before you have to stop and after a few weeks you’ll be able to do 15 or 20 which is fantastic. Don’t worry about what time you’re doing each length in, it’s much more about settling into a nice rhythm, rather than sprinting along.
It’s great if you can spend sometime longboarding (on a skateboard), like this. It’s unbelievably helpful for your surfing but you must make sure that you are standing with your back knee dropped in towards your front knee (like you see them exaggerating 29 seconds in on this great little film by Original Skateboards). Getting comfortable with that back knee position really is the key to a good surfing stance. Don’t worry about trying to perform tricks, just cruise along getting comfortable in that counter intuitive stance, with your back knee dropped in. Do make sure that you are wearing wrist guards however as falling heavily on your hand is a common injury.
Flexibility often ends up being a limiting factor in many people’s surfing, especially over 40s. So a stretching regime is important and while the philosophy behind yoga may not appeal to you personally, regular yoga is a great way to work the right kind of exercises into your daily life. We recommend that you find your local yoga studio or gym and go along to classes a couple of times a week leading up to your vacation. “Sun Salutations” will help a lot with your “pop up” but also ask your yoga teacher to show you some rotational neck and back exercises. These will help you to take a good look back at the wave that you intend to catch as your paddle.
Other routines such as seated spinal twists will give you the rotation in the trunk to help you bring your feet underneath your body, and the flexibility in your legs will come from practicing “Down Dog”, which is great for stretching out the achillies, back of the knees and hamstrings. Although “burpees” are not traditionally part of a yoga regime, they are also great at simulating the pop up movement.
If you are finding the prospect of all of this slightly intimidating, don’t panic. Beginners yoga classes are always friendly and unintimidating and if you prefer not to join in classes then Taylor Knox has produced one of the best surf oriented exercise videos available.
As part of your stay at Surf Simply you will also have the option of working with our yoga teacher here. Paola will be happy to teach a simple surf specific work out which you can take home with you to use in the run up to your next trip.