Surfing is one of the most efficient, effective, and enjoyable sports for getting fit and staying in shape. It is an all-round workout which will see you improve your balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance.
You don't have to do any specific training in order to start surfing and you'll find that over the course of your holiday you'll see notable improvements in each of these areas.
Having said that, surfing is a physically demanding sport and many people find that by their second or third day they are starting to feel it. So, like any sport, the fitter you are the easier it will be, and the better you get, the more fun it is.
Below we've outlined some activities you can do to prepare for your surf holiday. These will have you arriving in the best condition to start surfing and keep you going strong through your holiday.
You don't have to know how to swim to start surfing. As a beginner you'll start in the 'white water' - closer to the shore, where the waves have already broken. You'll be in water up to about your waist.
Many people who don't know how to swim, or who are not confident in the water, choose to continue to surf this way.
If you want to progress to the 'green waves' (waves which have not yet broken) and sitting on your board beyond the breaking section of the ocean then you will need to be able to paddle efficiently and have the fitness to swim back to shore in the event you get separated from your board.
Many people, when they start surfing, experience difficulties performing the pop-up manoeuvre due stiffness and inflexibility. That is, they find it hard to get their feet into the right position, to perform the manoeuvre in one springing/jumping type of action, and in particular, to get the front foot into the correct position between the hands.
Beginners often experience muscle stiffness and soreness a few days into their surf holiday from practicing 'pop-ups' both on the sand and in the water during surf classes.
In addition, the pop-up is an action unlike any other action performed in daily life, so it is going to feel 'clunky' and unusual in the beginning. The body simply hasn't had the opportunity to practice the action nor to form any type of 'muscle memory'.
While there is nothing better than practicing the pop-up itself (either on a board, on sand, or on your bedroom floor) improving your overall flexibility through yoga and regular stretching will greatly assist your body to adjust to the action and positioning required when performing the pop-up on a surf board.
In particular, the types of stretches or postures which are likely to assist you to condition your body to surfing include any type of rotational back and neck exercises. Other useful exercises include core strengthening and any stretches for the hamstring and quadricep muscles, as well as for the arms and shoulders.
Beginning surfers who already have experience on a skateboard (especially on a longboard) will notice similarities with the surfboard stance and the actions of turning and speed generation.
These days there are plenty of skateboards designed specifically with surfers in mind (check out Carver skateboards online) to assist them to replicate turning actions when outside the water. Try spending some time on a longboard in the weeks leading up to your surf holiday but do remember to wear protective gear and, be careful - we'd hate you to do a holiday-cancelling injury!
Check out some YouTube videos from our friends at iSurfTribe for beginner tips on how to master the pop-up.
Or, if you're an advanced beginner wanting to progress to surfing a short board check out this tutorial on the duck dive. Preview this before your next surf vacation.