YES. When Dancers aren’t dancing they are learning or practicing to improve their movement so next time they dance they can dance more freely. Dancers practice efficient movement and aspects of choreography on a daily basis in preparation for the next dance. Do you practice the movements of surfing on a daily basis when the surf is flat?
Just as a musician spends time getting to know an instrument and music theory (scales etc) the dancer spends time exploring their body, practicing subtle movements, stretching, rehab exercises, yoga classes, pilates, gymnastics. Every minute seems to be focused on getting to know their bodies better so that they can express themselves freely, removing the physical limitations of the body so pure self-expression can be experienced. Learning how nutrition and lifestyle affects their health.
In the past 5 years or so we have seen pro surfers hire personal trainers and coaches, they speak of good nutrition and chiropractors etc. The surfing world is catching up to other sports in the sense that surfers are seen as ‘athletes’ as well as surfers. Sadly we see surfers adopting the kind of exercises you tend to see contact sport athletes and sprinters doing. Olympic lifting exercises and gym or body building exercise to increase ‘horsepower’, and these workouts have their place, but only for the elite. Good surfing is less about muscular body that capable of pure strength and speed like we see with sprinters and contact sports athletes. It is more like dancing and martial arts – grace – flow – timing – body awareness – movement efficiency – skill building drills; these give birth to power and speed. Only when you can move through full range of motion with awareness and flow should you consider ‘horsepower’. And for most surfers this is the case.
The martial arts and dance world is lot older than surfing and other professional sports so it makes sense that as surfers we look at them as well as the latest technologies in athletic ‘gym based’ performance strategies.
In MMA, talented multi disciplinary martial artists adding strength and conditioning training into the mix can produce absolutes beasts in the ring. However I doubt they could lay a finger on the likes of Bruce Lee – whose famous motto is ‘move like water’. Bruce always had flow and grace in mind when training/practicing. He understood that controlled smooth and efficient movement precedes fast accurate and powerful movement. In surfing we could compare Laird Hamilton with Kelly Slater, Laird is a big wave specialist and all-round waterman. He does a lot of strength training in between big swells to keep strong and resilient (big wave surfing is a contact sport).In the gym and pound for pound laird is probably stronger, but put Kelly vs Laird in 4-6ft perfection and Kelly will outshine in all areas, speed – power – flow.
If your more concerned with improving your grace, your range of motion, body awareness etc to become a fluid fast and agile surfer then go easy on the body building and weightlifting stuff.
Do bodyweight drills, try Yoga, Pilates, Dance, gymnastics, athletics or learn a Martial Art. Or if you are in NYC and resonate with this, then get in touch 🙂