I’m fortunate enough to have spent a week surfing in the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal. I love surfing as it’s a great way to exercise and is extremely rewarding. It's a tough sport that requires your full focus and concentration but I love the freedom and relaxation of it. Surfing allows you to learn a great deal about yourself by the way you respond to the unpredictablility of the ocean. It’s an amazing way to workout, appreciate your beautiful natural surroundings and have some serious fun!
If you’re relatively new to surfing (like me), it’s always good to do a little prep to get the most out of your surf trip. Basic core training is a great start, particularly for beginners, and exercises which work on your spinal stability, posture and flexibility should be your first point of call. Lower body exercises to strengthen the legs and improve your balance will be a big help too.
Here are 3 exercises to help you get started:
Plank with alternate opposite arm and leg lifts
How: From a plank position, extend your left arm and right leg. Return to the starting position and then swap sides, extending your right arm and left leg. Continue alternating.
Key points: Try to keep your spine long, avoiding piking your hips up too high or letting your hips sag. If there’s any discomfort or you lose your form, try this from a hands and knees position.
Reps: 10-20 reps x3
Alternating lunges with raised arms
How: Start with your feet hip width apart and your arms up in the air. Then step back with your right foot and lower your right knee to just above the ground. Step back to starting position and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
Key points: Having your arms up while lunging will keep your core muscles fired up to maintain your balance. Remember to keep your shoulders back avoiding hunching and look forward, especially if you have hand weights. Get those glues working by driving through the heel of the front foot as you power up to extend your legs.
Reps: 10-20 reps (total) x 3
Downward facing dog
Start on hands and knees, then slowly lift your knees off the ground and extend the legs to create an A-shape with your body. Keep your knees slightly bent as you push your heels into the ground and extend your arms.
Key points: Yoga compliments surfing hugely and this pose is a great way to work on your hamstring flexibility which is important for surfing. With yoga you not only train from a physiological stand point, such as improving your flexibility, core strength and balance, you also work on your breath and focus. Even as a beginner you quickly realise that being stressed, panicked or in a rush doesn't work when you surf. Other yoga postures that will help your surfing include pigeon pose, forward folds, twists, chaturanga and warrior poses.
Where to Go
You're spoilt for choice when choosing beautiful locations to surf in the world. Remember to research your destination as different spots will be suited for different level of surfer at different times of the year.
Here are my top 3 places for an unforgettable surfcation:
School of the World
Costa Rica - Jaco (April-November rainy season, December- April dry season)
Morocco - Taghazout (September-October, December-March)
Jah Shaka Surf
Portugal - Algarve (April-August)
Surf schools usually offer lessons, either full day or half day, as well as an option of accommodation. These costs can range depending on where you are so be prepared to pay between £250-£550 for accommodation and lessons. This may or may not include food. Sometimes your package will have other activities such as day trips, yoga, language lessons and even photography lessons.
What You Need
Most surf schools will have full equipment hire for you, so if you are new to surfing you don’t need to splash out on expensive equipment like surf boards and wetsuits. However, even as beginner it might be a good idea to invest in your own surfing gear after a short while, especially if you know you’ll be surfing frequently. This way you can get a board specifically to suit you and you can take it with you wherever you go.
Get ready for some exciting spontaneous surfing trips!