ENCINITAS — Suzie Poetsch and Bernie Delgado partnered as dancers at Ballet Pacifica in Irvine. Now they are collaborating in a new fitness regimen tailored for surfers that incorporates elements of dance.
Poetsch, 45, also a certified Pilates instructor, started surfing at 30. Delgado, 53, has been surfing since childhood.
“I’m a long boarder and Bernie’s a short boarder,” she said. “It’s a totally different style of surfing. I am more into balance and upper body strength. Bernie has a more aggressive style. His exercises involve a lot of leg work.”
Poetsch says her Pilates training proved to be an asset when she took up surfing at Scorpion Bay in Baja in 1996.
“I thought I was a decent athlete and then you add Mother Ocean and it’s a whole different thing,” she said. “Pilates is all about the core and center of balance which is what you need.”
Delgado explains that SurfTones benefits surfers as well as athletes of all ages.
“SurfTones can help attain one’s personal goal of staying in good physical shape,” he said. “It totally tests your body no matter what sport you are doing.”
Delgado has been an athlete all his life, playing baseball in his hometown of Corona through high school. He was introduced to surfing at the age of 15 by his sister’s boyfriend, Greg Bailey, who surfed the big waves of Hawaii during the ‘60s.
“Greg gave me my first surfboards,” Delgado remembers. “From there I’d try to borrow a car to drive to the Orange and San Diego county surf breaks. In between college and work I’d carve out time to go surfing, even if it was by myself.”
Delgado was an English and theatre arts major at Chaffey Junior College when he was recruited to perform in a production of the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Choreographer Carol Lee recognized his raw talent and offered to give him free ballet lessons in exchange for performing in her annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
He continued to find time to surf whenever he could.
Delgado says he was working in the restaurant business in Orange County when a waitress at the Ivy House suggested he look up Larry Rosenberg, a well-connected dancer from Los Angeles who just started a school, “The Dance Center.”
“Larry coached Anne Bancroft in her scenes for the movie ‘The Turning Point,’” Delgado said. “He and his wife pushed me and that accelerated my ability to pick up things and become a better dancer on stage. It helped me get my first dance job at the San Antonio Ballet in 1984.”
Delgado went on to perform ballet, contemporary and modern dance professionally throughout the United States, in productions from “Romeo and Juliet” to Laura Dean’s “Arrow of Time,” Bill T. Jones’ “Chatter,” Donald McKayle’s “Avatar” as well as other musicals including “West Side Story.”
He was a principal dancer for the Ft. Wayne Ballet Company in Indiana when he met his wife, Marisa Soltis, also a principal dancer.
In 2000 they moved to Orange County, performing for Ballet Pacifica. That’s where they met and developed a friendship with fellow dancer Suzie Poetsch.
“When Marisa and I moved to North County, we began talking about offering a conditioning class for surfers,” Delgado said. “Marisa suggested we contact Suzie since she was also a surfer who began talking about the same approach to conditioning a few years ago. Suzie was excited about the collaboration and was able to integrate principles of Pilates into the development of SurfTones.”
In addition to athletes, Poetsch explains that SurfTones benefits non-athletes who want to get in shape for vacation.
“It’s great if you want to try boogie boarding or surfing,” she said. “It will give you a general knowledge of how to move more efficiently in the water.”
Delgado adds, “SurfTones is conditioning for life with the Aloha spirit.”
Classes will be held at Dance Connections in Encinitas and nearby beaches beginning Aug. 1. Delgado currently teaches Adult Ballet Conditioning at the studio. Cost is $20 for a 1-1/4 hour session. For more information, call Delgado at (760) 571-7555 or e-mail [email protected] Poetsch can be reached at (562) 900-7695 or by e-mail at [email protected]