The Coast News Group
All the equipment needed to stay in shape for an extended layoff from the surf. Photo by Chris Ahrens
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: Passing the test

It’s been over six months since C-19 shut down our aquatic fun zone, initially moving us all indoors when the beaches were temporarily declared off limits.

While surf restrictions lasted only a short while, my work scheduled increased tenfold by the time the beaches were declared safe for surfing.

So, like many of you, I remained near home and did most of my exercises inside.

Fearful of losing whatever skill I had in surfing through such a long layoff, I decided to keep myself in surfing shape through a number of arm strengthening and body flexibly exercises. Still, I knew I would need something more.

Most longtime surfers will tell you that it is not the ability to ride the wave that fades with long layoffs, but the ever critical need to get to your feet and your surf stance quickly.

With that in mind, I purchased the Surf-Fit Performance Mat, employing it several days a week, in hopes I would still be able to rise to the occasion once I hit the waves again.

The water was warm and surf decent a few weeks ago when my friend Wade called to ask if I wanted to surf with him.

Without a second thought, I said yes. I figured I should ride a longboard, but lacking one in my limited quiver, I waxed up my old faithful standby, my 8-foot Frye Fish.

The surf was packed and I didn’t want to embarrass myself before the crowd, so I located a little section of inside reef.

I was more nervous than I had ever been, even on the largest of swells, as I contemplated what lay ahead. What if I had irretrievably lost my ability to get to my feet and ride a wave?

I felt okay as I paddled out without the anticipated strain on my arms.

Then, once in position, I spun around and began paddling into a little wave.

The ankle snapper was slow, mushy and merciful, allowing me entrance before I popped to my feet, did two small turns and kicked out on the inside.

Not my best performance, but not terrible either. The next wave was slightly bigger and stood up at waist high.

Again, I spun, stood and this time did a few turns and minor cutbacks before the wave walled up and closed out on the inside.

By the end of that first day I was surfing nearly as well as I had before my extended layoff.

I surfed most of that week, improving slightly each day until by week’s end it was like I had never been away.

I should add that I’ve had long layoffs before, especially during book deadlines when each hour is dedicated to proofing and rewriting, sometimes for months.

Retuning after these self-inflicted quarantines always took me down a few notches.

A few years ago, I found I could barely get to my feet and fell on nearly every wave I attempted riding. This time, thanks to my workout regimen, things were different.

I never like leaving the ocean for any length of time, but now, when I do, I know that I will be back in form and in the lineup without botanical lessons in the dreaded butt plants and face plants.

To learn more about the Surf-Fit Performance Mat, visit