If you’ve surfed for a while, you realize that the only way to get in shape for surfing is by surfing.
The muscle groups needed for paddling and standing on a surfboard are unique to our art, and the unpredictable shifts taken by waves when wind, tide or swell direction shift require countless hours of watching the ocean as the lineup morphs into something new.
Still, there are times when travel, injury or the ocean itself can prevent us from riding waves. It is then that serious surfers train to keep themselves as sharp as possible, in anticipation of their inevitable return to their spawning grounds.
In previous columns I have suggested the use of the Surf-Fit Performance Mat along with various exercises like swimming, pushups, planks, yoga and boxing. Any exercise that increases strength, stamina, balance or flexibility will do.
The most obvious cross-trainer available is the skateboard. While fun on its own, skateboarding (once called “sidewalk surfing”) mimics wave riding better than nearly any other activity.
Turning a skateboard or a surfboard requires nearly identical movements — basically putting weight on one side of the board or the other.
Being mostly a lower body exercise, however, and having no need for popping up from a prone position, not even skateboarding will totally prepare you to surf.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Bryce Wettstein of Encinitas, a surfer, skateboarder, volleyball player, skim boarder, poet, writer, artist, singer-songwriter, designer, style master and Olympian.
While Bryce has somehow become accomplished in each of the aforementioned activities — she was recently named style director for the GeoMetro Party skate brand — her greatest achievement as I see it is joy, something she is an ambassador of and spreads thickly and generously throughout the world.
As a skateboarder, she has competed and excelled at the highest level, culminating at age 17 with her taking 6th at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to get the impression that Wettstein cares more for hanging with friends and family and the electrified buzz induced by her gravity-defying ballet than she does winning medals.
Watching on TV as she played her ukulele for friends at the Olympic Village hammered home the point.
As she recently stated, “The Olympics are a dream come true, however, it is only a very small part of skateboarding. It does not define me or skateboarding. The best thing about the contests starting up again is getting to hang out with all my international skate friends again. It seems this is the only way to get together.
“Tokyo 2021 will come and go, but skateboarding will keep going on forever.”
If I were to write Bryce Wettstein’s bio, I would add intangibles like Love. Joy. Light. Ability. Humility. Ambassador of goodness.
Did I mention that she’s a brilliant surfer?