QUICK COLUMN: Indoor surfing fitness program will be introduced to Charleston next week
In what may be a new fitness trend for 2013, the new Surfset program could do for surfing what Spinning did for cycling.
Surfset involves a fitness program focusing on the balance, stability, strength and cardio moves of surfing and uses a RipSurfer X “machine,” which is a shortboard corded to three inflatable, BOSU-like stability disks. Bands attached to the board provide resistance for stroking motions.
And Charleston, in yet another example of demonstrating its diversity in fitness offerings, is in the second wave of the program as it spreads across the country. Surfset, started a year ago, focused on the major media and fitness markets of New York and Los Angeles earlier this year.
On Nov. 6 (yeah, Election Day), a crew from Surfset will be holding a trainer certification program and several classes (see accompanying box) at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, which is buying eight RipSurfer X machines and will offer the Surfset “mini camp” in December.
Surfset's certification program and introductory classes are part of a 25-city tour, setting the stage for the new year and 2013. The RipSurfer X machines also will be available for in-home use and retail for $450, less than the cost of most new surfboards and the prototype machine introduced last winter.
Janis Newton, the center's assistant director, says she's excited about bringing Surfset programming to Charleston because of its focus on functional fitness, balance and stability, traits that tend to decline with age.
Newton, who has been in the fitness field for more than three decades, doesn't anticipate Surfset to be a hot fitness craze that will fade fast.
“There are so many fitness toys that come and go. For every 100 that come out, we only take one, maybe two, seriously,” she says.
“We think this is great for building stability and balance, which, when people get older can be the difference between taking care of yourself or requiring someone to take care of you.”
Newton says Surfset will be easy to use in hybrid fitness classes, combining it, for example, with TRX or kettlebells.
Somewhat surprisingly, many hard-core surfers have embraced the idea of indoor surfing, says Surfset spokesman Nick Karwoski.
“We were worried how the surf community would respond to it,” says Karwoski, noting that Surfset creator Mike Hartwick is a surfer who was looking for a surf-specific workout when he came up with the idea. “Some surfers have talked about using it as a warm-up before heading into the waves for a competition.”
Wellness Center personal trainer Alicia O'Connor, who also is an avid surfer and downhill snow skier, says she is “stoked” is about the new program as both a trainer and a surfer.
“Until now, there was nothing to mimic the specificity of surfing,” says O'Connor, noting common surfing moves such as stroking, “duck diving,” and “popping up” on the board.
She says Surfset will offer surfers a chance to stay in shape during “flat times” (when waves are flat) or when, for some, it's too cold to surf. Many who take two months off can attest to getting out of shape for surfing.
“I'm psyched because I used to do only two workouts — I ride my bike and do TRX — to stay in shape for skiing and surfing,” says O'Connor. “I'm pretty sure this is going to be my new favorite workout.”