You finally decided to do it and cross one thing off your bucket list – you’ve decided to learn to surf. Now that you’ve signed up for a lesson – or better yet, booked yourself a surf vacation (!!) – you might be wondering what you are in for. Here are 5 things to keep in mind before your first surf lesson.
1. How to prepare.
While there is no physical activity quite like surfing, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for your first lesson. Swimming can help build up your endurance for paddling in the water. You’d be surprised that surfers actually only spend about 8% of their time in the water actually riding a wave, according to a recent study by scientists at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Paddling for waves accounted for about 54% of their time in the water. It’s important to note that you should have basic swimming skills and comfort in the water before really plunging into surfing.
Yoga can help to improve your balance and flexibility – key attributes for surfing. Running, spinning/cycling – basically anything that will get your heart rate up will help improve your cardiovascular fitness.
2. It’s OK to stay in the whitewater.
Don’t rush to paddle out past where the waves break and catch an unbroken wave. In fact, the whitewater (i.e. closer to shore where the waves have already broken) is a great place to learn, and to get a feel for your surfboard and how to handle it. Once you become comfortable with your board and get the hang of popping up in the whitewater, then you can think about heading out the back.
3. It’s not if you will fall into the water, it’s when.
You will fall into the water. You will drink a gallon of saltwater and water will go up you nose. But that’s OK. Everyone falls. When you do, try to stay relaxed. When I fall off my board, I start counting slowly to 10 and focus on finding my board which is attached to my ankle by a leash. Usually, I’ve reached the surface before I reach 10. Don’t forget to cover your head to protect your head and face from your surfboard, even after you have broken the surface of the water.
4. Become familiar with Rip Currents
You hear warnings about rip currents every summer, and for good reason. Rip currents are strong narrow current of water that travel away from the shore and back out to sea.
If you do get caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Your first instinct will be to paddle against the current and back to shore. Don’t do it. You will become exhausted. Instead, paddle parallel to the shore to get out of the rip. Here’s an illustration of what a rip current looks like: http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml. Remember that the ocean is a pretty amazing but also powerful place to be. Try not to fight it but work with its energy.
5. Have fun.
Surfing is probably the hardest but most fun sport I’ve ever tried. You will look silly at times. Try not to think too much about what you think you should look like on a surfboard or what other people think of you. Instead, try to focus on enjoying your time out on the ocean. It truly is an amazing experience. After all, “the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.”
Christine is a mom to 2 boys, wife, Brooklynite, everyday fitness enthusiast and beginning surfer. She blogs at Love, Life, Surf where she chronicles her quest to learn to surf and the challenges of balancing work, life, fitness and family. She’s a bit obsessed with Instagram and can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.