Though I am a lover of the ocean, I’ve never surfed before. That’s partly because I haven’t had access — while plenty of folks surf in the city, you kind of have to seek it out — and partly because it feels a little daunting.
But when Good Thins, Nabisco’s new line of healthful chips, invited me to attend a class at Surfset NYC, a surf-inspired workout not too far out of my daily commute, it seemed too good to pass up.
Fun fact: Surfset Fitness was originally founded by entrepreneur Mike Hartwick and nutrition expert Sarah Ponn, and received funding in 2012 from “Shark Tank.”
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When I arrived at the studio, trainer and co-owner Diana Garrett, who was leading my class that night, explained that the 45-minute workout, which combines actual surf moves with yoga, cardio and strength-building circuit training, is done aboard the RipSurfer X, a 6-foot-long surf training board that sits on three balance balls to simulate the wobble you would experience in the water.
“The instability adds an extra challenge and also magnifies any misalignments,” Garrett says.
The room is set up to evoke beachiness through and through, from the blue and white wave-inspired yoga mats placed beneath the RipSurfer X boards, to the surf movies projected in the background, to Garrett’s pineapple-patterned spandex pants.
And while working out is no day at the beach, this class is designed to feel just like that. Bicycle kicks are called “shark kicks”; the fitness move known as mountain climbers is instead referred to as “wave runners”; and one of my favorite moves, “hot sand,” had us repeatedly jumping up onto the board from the ground, as though to relieve our burning feet. At different points, we would lie belly-down and make-believe “paddle” with our hands. From plank position, we would pop up into surf stance.
But unlike a typical beach day lounging on the sand, this was fairly intense. I typically jog for exercise, so I wasn’t accustomed to the rapid-fire change in movements. But the creativity of the routine kept me grinning as my heart rate climbed.
“I wanted to take [my] love of surfing and working out and bring them together in a way that’s equal parts fun and challenging,” says Garrett. “There’s a solid surf culture here in New York, and we know people want to learn it.”
One day, I hope to catch a real wave — and now, when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be less afraid to wipeout.
Garrett and her partner, Aaron Thouvenin, also host Epic Beach Days, which consist of group surf lessons out on Long Beach, New York, for those who want to practice what they've learned in class out on the water.