The less toxic your body is, the healthier you are. The healthier you are, the faster and more efficient your nervous system works. Health is paramount to optimal performance and consistency.
The most obvious toxins are drugs, alcohol, pesticides, heavy metals and household chemicals. So limiting alcohol consumption, eating organic foods and switching to plant based household cleaners can greatly reduce your overall ‘toxic load’. But most of your toxins come from processed foods, especially refined carbs and oils.
Here is a link to an article by Chris Kresser that looks at this concept in more depth.
Having practiced a controlled sit – stand (as described here in part 1) maintaining awareness of posture, movement and breathing we now progress the movement. If you haven’t done so, please read part 1 as it describes the most basic squat in detail, and tips that apply to all forms of squatting.
Lets start by describing the ‘ideal’ wall squat; facing the wall, toes touching the wall, feet no wider than shoulder width and pointing straight ahead (see pic 1). Knees and nose are NOT to touch the wall, finger tips can for awareness, keeping feet flat perform a deep squat. Keep focused on smooth, controlled and balanced movement. Often the most challenging part of the movement is moving through the midway point when hips are at knee height (see pic 2), make sure you keep heels down and knees at feet width here. Breathe out as you go down and go as low as you can (see pic 3), breathe in as you come up. Keep the movement slow. 10 reps.
It is a very challenging exercise for most, but is easily modified for anyone. Simply stand further away (1 foot max), point toes out at 40 degrees and widen stance. Find a distance/position that is do-able, yet challenging. This will be your start point and from here you can slowly progress closer each week.
See Vid here:
Pause any surf video at any point and the surfer could be said to be in one of many ‘squat’ positions, squatting is a fundamental part of surfing. It is also a fundamental part of general health, especially hip/pelvic/lower back function, (use it or lose it).
In this article/video series we explore the squat in-depth. We will start with the most simple and common form of squatting, then progress all the way to ‘surf squats’ – surf squat variations and some more advanced single leg work as well.
The first few articles/videos in the squat series may be too basic for you and you may be tempted to skip the first few and get into the challenging stuff, but I urge you to watch all to get a more overall understanding of the movement.
We will begin with becoming aware of how you currently squat the most (sit-stand), and through self-awareness look to improve control and efficiency. We all squat many times per day, each time we sit or stand we are doing a partial squat. Most of us will tend to hover over a chair or couch and fall to sit, then we use momentum and our arms to stand.
keep ‘awareness, posture, control and efficiency’ in mind as you practice flowing from standing to sitting, and sitting to standing.
Align yourself squarely in front of the chair, become aware of your standing posture. Think tall spine, relaxed shoulders and bodyweight distributed evenly and symmetrically through feet (see Fig 1). Maintain awareness of bodyweight distribution and posture as you slowly sit into the chair (breath out). As your sit bones touch (see Fig 2) maintain control and awareness as you slowly and silently transfer the weight from your feet to your butt (breathing out). Find a comfortable relaxed upright posture, you have just sat down with grace and poise. (see Fig 3)
Sit upright with a tall relaxed posture, keeping an upright posture tilt forward from the hips and begin to slowly transfer the weight from your sit bones to the centre of you feet(breathing out). Maintain posture and awareness as you slowly stand with a graceful weightlessness (breathing in).
If you find coordinating the breathing difficult then work on awareness and control before integrating the breathing.
Awareness and integration of: Movement, Posture and Breathing is important, and will be a running theme throughout all practice.
For some this will be a challenge and can be done as an exercise: Perform 10 reps taking 10 sec to do each (5 sec down 5 sec up). Others may find this very easy, if so go straight to part 2, but practice what you learnt here each time you sit.
See video HERE
Part 2 soon
Avocados are a perfect blend of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) for surfing. The high fat content will give slow release, long lasting energy for extended sessions, the carbs will give you instant energy to paddle straight back out, and the protein content will replenish amino acids and satiate hunger. Avocado is also unprocessed and raw, and contains lots of enzymes for easy digestion. Make sure your avo is ripe (unripe fruit is difficult to digest). Add celtic sea salt for electrolytes, and pepper for improved digestion.
1/2 -1 avo for ‘straight back out there‘ snacks
2-3 avo for a ‘chill for 1/2hr before going back out‘ snack
It’s important to keep ‘straight back out there‘ mid-surf snacks small and easily digestible. Larger snacks and meals can switch you autonomic nervous system into ‘rest and digest’ making you feel slow and uncertain in the water. You need to keep your nervous system in a ‘fight or flight’ readiness.. like the tiger stalking its prey – calm and silent yet primed for fast action.
As we continue to witness Kelly Slaters surfing improve with age, we must redefine our perception of the word ‘age’. It seems common perception of this word has been skewered by societies recent decline in health.
From the Oxford Dictionary:
verb (ages, ageing or aging, aged)
Now lets look at ‘Old’
Old English ald (Anglian), eald (West Saxon) “aged, antique, primeval; elder, experienced,” from West Germanic *althas ”grown up, adult” (cf. Old Frisian ald, Gothic alþeis, Dutch oud, German alt), originally a past participle stem of a verb meaning “grow, nourish” (cf. Gothic alan ”to grow up,” Old Norse ala ”to nourish”), from PIE root *al- ”to grow, nourish” (cf. Greek aldaino”make grow, strengthen,” althein, althainein ”to get well;” Latin alere ”to feed, nourish, bring up, increase,” altus ”high,” literally “grown tall,” almus ”nurturing, nourishing,” alumnus ”fosterling, step-child;” Old Irish alim ”I nourish”).
So to age is to grow old, to grow old is to nourish, strengthen and grow. With age comes experience. This is the way we used to think of ‘aging’, before laziness and poor nutrition took over. Its time to exercise your right to longevity, and it starts with your perception.
Understanding that aging is a process of ongoing growth, harness the power to overcome any obstacle and to gain confidence through wisdom and experience. Preservation of youth is but pure fantasy. Youth is simply replaced with experience, wisdom, refined skills & efficiency. The ignorant innocence of youth gives birth to the Master and the Sage.
Surfing is Movement. If movement is a skill you want to master, then Move, “use it or lose it”. All your joints and muscles (including diaphragm and heart) need to be challenged through a range of capacities, and full range of motion every week. If you don’t have the luxury of surfing everyday then dedicate at least 30mins a day to movement, and since you are a surfer then it makes sense for that movement to be as surf specific as possible.
Nourish, don’t just eat. Nourish. Consider your health and longevity before anything enters your mouth, and educate your self in these matters. Start HERE. inflammation from poor nutrition hinders movement, recovery and brain function. A clean natural diet based on real foods and a balanced life style.
If your ‘young’ then I urge you to start implementing the principles immediately. If you feel ‘old’ stiff and painful already, then believe me you can rediscover pain-free movement and suppleness. The principles are the same, move, nourish, repeat. Know this, all movement is controlled by the brain, re-learning movement is about slow and pain-free progressions. All movement is a skill and is learnt through repetition, consistent practice begins today.
Had a surf lesson this summer and instantly addicted? I know the feeling, and you want to progress as fast as possible because if the feeling of going straight on a small wave is so amazing, imagine what a smooth top turn on a 4ft wave must feel like. But it takes years to learn the skill of surfing, longer than any other sport. Most other individual sports you get to practice outside of play/game time, i.e. working with a golf coach at the driving range or practicing a new line or trick at the skate park. A 3hr surf may lend you 90 seconds (15, 10sec waves) of actual surfing. Imagine if you had an hour with a surf coach in a private wave pool and got 15mins of standing surfing practice. Most of us cant afford this luxury.
We can practice surf specific movements, working on all aspects of surf athleticism. Strength, mobility, flow, speed, body awareness can all be improved. We see a lot of beginners lack basic strength and mobility fundamental to learning the skill of surfing, part of the reason surfers learn so slowly is the lack of practice of surf specific movement. For example, lets say you caught 15 waves, thats 15 pop-ups, and 90secs of surf stance practice. So you can see how little time is spent challanging our bodies popping up and surfing the wave.
I have good news. Even if you did 15 surf pushups, and 90sec worth of surf style squats, thats the same as a 3 hr surf in less than 5 mins. 10mins every day, thats all you need to do to drastically improve the learning curve of the new skill. Develop endurance and balance in a low surf stance, to be able to move your own bodyweight from a paddling postition to a low and balanced stance with speed and grace. If you can’t do these things on dry land, good luck trying on a surfboard. There are plenty of videos and articles on this website for free advice. Start here:
If you live in NYC:
Learn exactly what to do by attending a “Surf Health & Fitness Workshop – Beginner/intermediate” On the 9th September.
Details here :
Kelly talking about how important diet and nutrition is for longevity:
Kelly Slater, Parko, Mick Fanning, Tom Curren, Jon Jon, Dane, Jordy… the list goes on, all surf with such grace, power and speed. Its like they are dancing on and with the wave, free from fear and bodily restrictions. Great martial artists perceive the threat of a fight as ‘an invitation to dance’ because they have gained a higher awareness of their bodies and there reaction times. This confidence and heightened self knowledge is only gained through experience and training.
Surfing is unique in that you don’t get to practice surfing the wave very often. If you get 2 mins of standing surfing from a 3 hour stint in the water then you are doing well. So we don’t get to practice the skill of surfing as much as we would like. We see a similar situation with martial arts, outside of sparing you don’t get much actual fight time, (proper fights usually end with someone getting hurt or submitting). Sparring is very sports specific for martial arts and a lot of time is spent training specific movements to gain body awareness, strength and control.
You now may be asking what is surf training’s ‘sparing’ equivalent. Great question. A short answer would be ‘practicing the movements of surfing to gain awareness, strength and control’. In martial arts awareness is gained through practicing individual movements slowly, as in ‘forms’ and ‘kata’ etc, strength is gain from conditioning and control combines awareness and strength against another; sparring.
If you are inclined to exercise even if the waves are flat or its too dark before/after work, then why not make it surf specific. Practice the movements of surfing to gain ownership and strength of each movement. Time spent with challenging surf specific training scenarios will improve your surfing performance. Practice surf specific exercise e.g. Pop-up and consider your health when making nutritional choices e.g. Nutrition Principles . Surfing health & fitness is a choreography of graceful movement, functional strength and solid nutrition.
Surf Health and Fitness Workshop at Human@ease . Michael has been a surfer and a Personal Trainer for 14 years and has strong passions for both surfing and health.
You will learn surf specific exercise, basic sports nutrition, how to look after your body so you can surf better, and to keep surfing forever.
Workshop will consist of:
* 30mins presentation about surf specific movement, strength, flow, mobility and basic sports nutrition.
* 50mins of practical strength and mobility exercise, covering paddling position, pop up, tube riding, top and bottom turns.
* Q&A to finish.
Suitable for all levels of surfing
Space can be reserved online:
or call to pay over the phone
Keep your diet clean, your body mobile and strong.
Here is a 20min recap of the ISA World Masters:
P.S. Kelly Slater is 41.