The Coast News Group
Sea Notes

Preparing for the winter surf, part two

I had exited my teens just in time to find Honolua Bay on Maui quaking beneath the swell of the century. The 17-inch wide, 7’10” pintail I had crudely shaped and glassed in my garage proved adequate to the biggest California surf of the previous season, but standing in the shadows of what some would call 20-foot Hawaiian surf was something else. Leashes were a few years from being invented and the idea of breaking your one and only board was never far from mind, when facing a mountain of water and a beach lined with jagged boulders.
The first wave of the set stood up on the reef, jacked in front of the infamous cave and I paddled into it, feeling myself pulled back to the top of the wave. When feeling forward motion, I stood up, but was unprepared for the pressure exerted on spindly legs. I steadied myself for the drop, wobbled slowly to the bottom and had the entire Pacific Ocean unload on me. After the worst hold down of my life to that point, I finally surfaced to foam as thick as ice cream, tried not to gulp any down and looked for by board, which lay in pieces, on the rocks.
I had been Hawaii’s latest victim of insufficient equipment and conditioning. The equipment has since been handled by Carl Ekstrom. Conditioning, I am leaving to the Greenasium, a unique North County “green” gym founded by three longtime friends and trainers: David Chaffey and brothers Alex and Byron Spratt.
What first attracted me was the word green in the gym’s name. This is no bandwagon gimmick, but something the owners live by. Stationary bicycles send power back into the grid, rather than robbing it. Many of the items within are constructed of recyclable materials. All are painted with nontoxic paints. Even the business cards are on recycled paper and laced with wildflower seeds that sprout on contact with water and soil. The owners give back to the community through free weekly workouts and monthly beach cleanups. Clean, sparse and organized like a fine sushi house, the Greenasium is a comfortable place to work out or to hang out.
Of course none of these are reason enough for choosing a gym. The main selling point for me (I signed up after going there to write this story) is that the Greenasium does not apply a public school, play to the middle, attitude toward fitness, but emphasizes each individual’s needs and goals, which in my case go back to the desire to ride bigger surf comfortably. “We help you set your own goals that can range from losing 10 pounds to surfing Pipeline,” Chaffey said.
Lifelong surfers who do no other sports or lower body workout tend to be strong in the upper body and weak from the core down, since the muscles called upon in bigger waves get little use when actually riding waves.
“We look at surfing as a team sport: the arms, lungs, core and legs all ride the wave together,” Alex Spratt said. “In training each of these players, you will become a better all-around surfer.”
At 7 a.m. on a Wednesday morning trainer Alex Spratt gave me lesson No. 1, as I took the first step in helping correct some of my physical deficiencies. By mid-winter, I hope to find comfort in waves that have formerly been challenging. I may not be much improved by opening day, which should be just around the corner, but I’ll let you know how things work out once the Aleutians again roar to life and scare the hell out of the unprepared.
To learn more about the Greenasium, visit:

1 comment

ByronSpratt October 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hey Chris,
This is a great article. Thanks for coming in and we plan to help you reach your goals. The website for the studio is
Byron Spratt
Owner – The Greenasium

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