The truth about trying to stay surf fit whilst serving a bid as a city-dwelling wave-starved surfer or perhaps suffering injury is this; training yourself mentally is more important than training yourself physically. Huge shout, but in my opinion true and the following tips should help keep your mental state loosely surf orientated and body fit as a result of your new found positive habits.
1. Hangout with other city surfers
It’s a no brainer but surrounding yourself with people of whom you share interests will bring out the best in you. We are all adults, some friendships grow and stay for life, some blossom then fizzle out, making new friends is an opportunity we should all seize.
If you’re in London sign up to the MeetUp group ‘London Surfers’ and fill out your profile as an enthusiastic surfer keen to hang out, train, share lifts to the coast with other city surfers.
There are surf related meetups with people just like you throughout the week, every week including surf films screenings, fitness classes even trips to Mexico. It’s a refreshing feeling knowing that thousands of others share your desire to be by the surf and frustration of not.
So spend time with your new mates, share stories, inspire, be inspired and pretty soon you’ll be frothing on epic surf trip plans.
insert “swap the tube for the tubes” quip somewhere.
2. Cutback on social media
I’m ‘in’ marketing and I don’t have Facebook. Whoa…
I’m not going to tell you to delete your account, but just sign out and uncheck the ‘Remember me’ box next time you feel that urge to ‘check in’.
‘Checking in’ behaviour is painfully addictive and so many of us check our accounts every few minutes. I’m not a smug completely off the radar type, I do have social media accounts and I do get compulsive urges to check them manically, but what this means is our brains are in two places at once. We’re not really living in the moment at all, we can’t see the wood for the trees so to speak.
This is mental, we don’t need this stuff. Using the old “I need it to keep in touch with friends and family” is also rubbish, our friends and family are fine and if they aren’t, they’ll call.
If you sack off social, you will have more free time to obviously keep physically fit but also and equally as important you can think seriously about your upcoming surf trip, sit and properly read surf magazines, stare at a map dreaming about where you want to surf, or just enjoy sitting, daydreaming.
Surfing can take you to endless places across the globe, the possibilities of the adventure are endless and as long as you’ve got the space in your head to give it some consideration, you’re energy, stoke and love for surfing will continue to grow. ‘Healthy body healthy mind’, this also works the other way.
3. Do nothing, more
On the topic of mindfulness, as surfers we tend to find ourselves with a lot of thinking time. Paddling out back with only our thoughts, sitting outback waiting for a set etc. But ‘thinking time’ can be blurred by white noise, you know that non-stop fuzz when you are left with your own thoughts? Or that annoying song that keeps repeating? They don’t have to be there, you are not your ‘mind’ and this thinking time needs to become ‘not thinking’ time. It’s something us Westerners can’t handle too well, but if we do get our heads around it, it will change our lives.
Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now is a great book that helps us realize that the present moment is all we have in life and that the NOW should be the primary focus. He doesn’t mean sack off work to go to the pub seize the day type attitude, but more let go of the past and don’t worry about the future type vibe (with a slightly preachy tone, but it is good). Not convinced? Get this:
“All negativity is caused by a denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
True isn’t it? YOLO, live in the now people. It’s the way forward. Thankfully repetitive actions, such as paddling outback, going rowing, swimming or walking for long periods of time allow our conscious mind to wake up to the insanity that the past and the future don’t actually exist, which brings our brains to exist in the present.
Hanging around St James Park with a Boots Meal Deal, doing nothing for your whole lunch hour is another great way to do this.
4. Start Yoga
The reason I say start yoga is because I assume you don’t practice. If you do, you will know that it isn’t something you ‘go to’, or ‘do’, it just becomes a part of your life and soon enough becomes more like a habit, a good one and we all know habits die hard.
We all know that the best physical training for surfing is surfing, but this isn’t always possible so do the second best thing and get on the mat. Even if you are surfing loads, get on the mat because all that back bending whilst paddling, hunching when going for a wave and rigidness of the feet whilst standing up can put pressure on the lower back, close your chest and round your shoulders and can stiffen your hips.
I’m no yoga guru, but I’ve been practising pretty regularly for about five years and truly believe that the benefits of staying supple and flexible from regular yoga practice have kept me surf fit in wave-starved times, as well as sane when I’ve started to lose the plot.
5. Keep fit
You probably expected a more detailed section bit here, but it’s not that tricky – just stay fit. We love to over think and complicate our ‘training’ routines, but the truth is, if you remain active and try to do one active thing a day along with all of the above, your mind, body and soul will be ready to take on the waves any time.
I spent a year in London, surfing rarely and soaking up what the city had to offer. I immersed myself totally in city life with dinner & drinks after work and all that jazz, properly soaking it up. I did also join a gym close to the office so I could squeeze in a swim before work (usually consisting of a warmup of 200m, then sprint 200m which was enough for me), gym circuit on my lunch break, or a long, stress-busting session on the rowing machines.
This obviously played a huge part in staying surf fit, but the main thing was I wasn’t freaking out about it. I was enjoying life, staying active and therefore healthy and as soon as I quit my job in the city and came back to the coast I was shredding instantly.