February 20, 2013
Living in Southern California, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, most of which are filled with surfers. I often find myself sitting on the beach and catching some rays, while I watch these talented men and women hit the surf and seamlessly glide across the ocean waves. While I’ve attempted to hang ten a few times, I’m definitely not a surfer. (Okay, to be honest, I’ve only attempted to simply stand up on the board, and let me tell you, that is a feat in itself, especially in some gnarly waves in Costa Rica!) I was stoked, however, when I heard about a new surf-inspired workout that would allow me to feel like I’m a pro out in the open ocean, while enjoying an environment I’m much more familiar with—the gym.
SurfSET® is a fitness format inspired by surfing. SurfSET classes center around the use of the RipSurfer X (RSX), a total-body surf trainer that mimics the feeling of riding the waves without having to get wet. This balance-training device is made from a custom surfboard that provides an unstable surface on which to perform a variety of traditional exercises, including squats and push-ups, as well as surf-inspired moves such as pop-ups, paddling and carving.
My experience was led by Paige, a passionate SurfSET® instructor and co-owner of SurfSET858 in Escondido, Calif. Centered around the RSX, the class featured a combination of cardio segments, which had me breaking a sweat, and strength and balance moves, which put my core to the test. Without question, this SurfSET class provided a great total-body workout that was fun and full of variety.
One notable highlight came toward the end of the class, when we combined a few of the surf-inspired moves together into one sequence that truly felt like we were out in the ocean. The instructor cued us to paddle as fast as we could and then perform a modified duck dive to work our way beneath the crashing ocean waves. We then paddled some more before sitting for a brief moment on our boards with our legs dangling off the sides, waiting for a set to come. When the time was right, we kicked our paddling back into higher gear before popping up to catch that perfect wave.
What to Wear
Any type of comfortable workout apparel that you would wear to a group fitness class is perfect for a SurfSET class. I sported a fitted tank top and a pair of capris, which worked well since full-length pants can become a potential tripping hazard when popping up on the board. I opted to go barefoot for the true surf-like experience (plus, I practice yoga so I’m always looking for an excuse to kick my shoes off), but you can always opt to keep your sneakers on during class if it feels more comfortable.
Who is This Class For?
SurfSET is a great option for anyone looking to incorporate more balance training into their workout routine, while also improving strength and endurance and having fun in the process! The RSX offers different options for resistance (two cords on each side of the board can be hooked for added stability or unhooked to add more of a balance challenge), which makes the class suitable for most fitness levels.
What to Look For
As with any fitness class, it’s important to seek out a qualified instructor, ideally someone who has earned a current group fitness instructor certification in addition to completing the SurfSET instructor-training course.
My experience with SurfSET was just plain fun! Not only did it provide a challenging and unique workout experience, it also added great variety to my normal fitness routine. I’m definitely eager and excited to make my way back to the board. And who knows…maybe after few more classes I’ll be putting my newfound surf skills to the test out on the water. Surf’s up!
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »