Surfset: Total Body Intensity in 30 Minutes

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This week at my gym, I finally got around to trying Surfset, a studio class done entirely on a stationary surf board designed to simulate being in the ocean. The idea is that surfing is one of the ultimate full-body workouts, and Surfset is a way to replicate the benefits in the studio. I’ve walked past the class before and thought it looked fun, but not particularly challenging. 5 minutes into a short 30-minute class, I realized how wrong I was (re: the “not challenging” bit).

The Surfset concept consists of four basic programs: Balance, Burn, Build and Blend – each with a different fitness focus. The class I took was a Burn class, focused on high intensity intervals, and let’s just say it stoked a veritable inferno in all my major muscle groups.

The first thing I noticed was how crazy wobbly the board was. I’ve done stand-up paddle boarding and stand-up paddle yoga … on actual water … and both were much, much more stable than the Surfset board. I quickly realized that the only way to stay on the board was to really engage my core and concentrate on pulling every available muscle into my center line. I also noticed that I tended to lean right, which I found interesting … hmmm, maybe I need to work on balancing my body strength …

We started with a fast-paced series of planks, down dogs, and pushups – akin to a modified Vinyasa sun salutation. Once we were warm, we progressed into intervals of various squats, core and pushup sequences, all with very little break in between.

Before I knew it, my abs, quads, hamstrings, deltoids and triceps were screaming for mercy. And we had only done the “left” side. The extreme instability of the board makes even the most minute movement a feat of balance, strength and focus. Next, we started the entire sequence again, but on the other side. The class rounded out with a few minutes of stretching, and then – as quickly as we started – it was over.

The verdict?

Pros:

  • This is a fantastically efficient workout – it’s total body and given much you need to work to stabilize yourself to just not fall off the board, you get a lot of out 30 minutes.
  • There are four different programs, so you can mix up the classes you take to create a well-rounded routine and avoid boredom.
  • It’s novel and fun.
  • As you get stronger and improve your balance/technique, you can modify the workout to be more challenging by adding props like medicine balls.

Cons:

  • There’s a moderate learning curve. I do a lot of yoga and consider my balance and core strength above average. But I spent the first 10 minutes awkwardly wobbling around,  just figuring out how not to topple off the board.
  • Perhaps this was just my instructor, or maybe I was too slow, but I found the pace of the class a bit rushed. Often the instructor would tell us to do 10 reps, and I had a hard time getting them all done, with decent form, in the time allotted. Given that it’s rare that I’m unable to keep pace, I wonder if there may be a bit too much packed into this 30-min class.

Overall, I’m a fan of Surfset and look forward to occasionally taking this class to supplement my more regular lineup of tennis and yoga. I get bored easily, so this is an interesting and fun way to mix things up while also getting a total-body, very efficient workout.

Kowabunga ;-)

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Chrissy Trampedach
Chrissy Trampedach is a PR & communications pro by day and fitness buff, skiing fanatic, dedicated yogi and wannabe tennis champ by night (and weekend). As a former competitive figure skater, she’s lived a life of training and sports from a young age. Today, she fuels her competitive spirit and drive to challenge her body and mind with USTA tennis, skiing adventures around the world, the SF yoga community and tracking the latest fitness trends. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Tim and their “75-lb lap dog” Enzo.

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