5 Secrets to Getting a Surfer Bod like Karina Petroni’s
Once, surfers, skaters and boarders were branded members of slacker culture, a bunch of (cute!) boys, who lived sans structure, motivated only by conquering the next half-pipe, black diamond or wave.
For the serious athletes, that label was never accurate. With events all over the world today, the 7th Annual International Surfing Day celebrates a sport that we now understand requires dedication, hard work, coordination and a free-spirited attitude that probably inspired that less serious reputation in the first place.
Surfing isn’t just for the boys either. These days, fearless chicks around the globe reap the physical and psychic benefits of riding waves. Just ask pros like “Big Wave” surfer Maya Gabeira and adventurer/pro-surfer Karina Petroni.
Before I tout the benefits of the sport, I need confess: I am a surfing dropout.
The first time I tried to ride a wave was in the tiny town of Malpais, Costa Rica, where the only things to do are loll in a hammock (with a papaya juice and a trashy novel) and surf. Mostly, I stuck with the former.
My reticence was based on a few things:
1. I’m uncoordinated.
2. Okay I’ll just admit it, I’m afraid of waves.
3. I went to college with a bunch of dedicated surfer boys, who woke up at 5am before classes to hit the beach. One of them even owns a surf school in Nicaragua. Thus, I knew that surfing wasn’t for slackers and it wasn’t easy.
When I finally agreed to try surfing, my husband revealed my fears to my instructor, who unfortunately believed in tough love. As he yelled at me to “Get it together!” (not like a “mellow surfer dude”), I dreamed of escaping back to my hammock.
Until I stood up. Then, feeling the rush of cutting across the surface of the water, I got just a glimpse of the sensation that makes surfers so obsessed. I wish I could say that I’m now a champion surfer with a body like Karina Petroni. That’s not the case. But I did develop new found respect and understanding for the sport.
Many of the pros credit riding waves alone with toning their bodies. Petroni, who splits her time between Florida and The Bahamas, does practice Baptiste yoga, free dive and swim in the ocean daily. But she says surfing itself is the most valuable workout: “You have to be your own trainer. [For the sport] It’s extremely important to have a strong back. Just surfing itself will strengthen that. It’s amazing how fit you become by strictly surfing. You use muscles you didn’t know you had.”
And if Karina’s physique isn’t indicator enough, according to ACE-expert and CEO of FitAdvisor.com, Gregory Florez, there are many reasons why I should have climbed back on the surf board. His company has trained pro-athletes, corporate executives and even the entire Oprah staff in what he refers to as “the complete range of human vitality” including physical fitness, psychological health and nutrition, targeting issues from weight loss to sleep.
Here are Florez’s top 5 benefits to surfing:
1. A Day At The Beach: Vitamin B from being in the sun greatly enhances mood and attitude. Plus, the cirdadian rhythm of the waves triggers “feel good” chemicals in the brain for most.
2. It’s Fun: Especially for newer surfers, it’s a sport (as opposed to lifting weights solo in a darkened gym) with social elements. You go out surfing, but then there may be a camp fire or lunch afterward with friends, which can keep you accountable and doing it regularly.
3. The Challenge: Surfing has a relatively steep learning curve, so there’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction when you can learn to stand up on the board.
4. Core Muscles: Surfing is the ultimate “functional” exercise, meaning you’re not just pushing weights around. You have to move and adjust to each wave or fellow surfer, so you’re constantly using different muscles — especially core muscles in the stomach, hips and lower back – in different ways.
5. Balance & Lower Body: There are few sports that really help you with your kinesthetic awareness or balance. The micro-adjustments for surfing make you extremely aware of your body. This also makes surfing an excellent exercise for strength and muscular endurance for your lower body. You use every single muscle from your ankles and calves to the fine muscles in your toes.
Surf city, here we come.
Find out more about International Surfing Day events!
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