Surfing seems to hold a mysterious appeal to all of us who grew up in landlocked states, including me. I always believed that if things were geographically different, I would be a natural surfer.
It turns out big-wave surf legend Laird Hamilton agrees with me.
"I always tell people that everyone is a surfer; some people just haven't surfed yet," Hamilton says. "But that ability is innate."
More people may soon be able to put their surf skills to the test with the Ocean Yoga board from FreeMotion Fitness, Logan, UT. The board combines elements of surfing, paddle boarding and yoga. Equipment consists of a modified paddle board resting on two balance balls (or if you are really feeling ambitious, one balance ball) as well as a weighted paddle.
Hamilton was at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) conference and trade show in Las Vegas to demonstrate the PaddleFit workouts he created for Ocean Yoga, which will include strength, cardio and stretching programs available at different levels to accommodate different ability levels.
"I'm developing moves based around the weight and leverage of the paddle," Hamilton says. In the six months that he has been working on the project, he helped design the shape and grip of the paddle and gave FreeMotion feedback on the way the board moves
Yoga experts Briohny Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein created the yoga workouts for Ocean Yoga, which Hamilton says work well with the workouts he has developed since surfing and yoga share a few common elements.
Beginning this summer, the equipment and programming will be offered as a package to yoga studios and facilities that offer group exercise classes. Classes will be updated several times per year, and Ocean Yoga will offer certifications for instructors who want to teach yoga or paddle fitness on the board.
But will it make me a better surfer? Hamilton says the instability of the Ocean Yoga board simulates the feeling of a board on the water, bringing at least part of the sensation of surfing indoors, but improving people's surf skills is not the end goal. Instead, the workouts are designed to challenge users mentally and physically and engage their cores.
After all, core strength is a key part of surfing (and life), according to Hamilton, who says, "We're in an unstable universe."
Leave it to a surfer to offer fitness tips with a side of philosophy.