What to Expect From a Land-Based Surfing Class

Hop on the RipSurfer X

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SurfSet

Ever since seeing SurfSet Fitness' RipSurfer X on Shark Tank in 2012, I've been dying to try an indoor surfing class. Unfortunately, the closest class to me was 150 miles away in San Antonio, which seemed like a bit of a trip for a 45-minute event.

That changed in January 2015 when a City Surf Fitness opened up in Austin. City Surf is a two-facility chain (one in Dallas, one in Austin) that uses SurfSet's RipSurfer X indoor surfboards, but that's created its own proprietary class programming.

Since the facility was brand new when I signed up, only two of its programs were underway: City Surf and Buddha Board.

  • City Surf is a total-body conditioning class that uses bodyweight exercises, including squats, pushups, mountain climbers and burpees, as well as surf-inspired movements performed on the RipSurfer X to challenge and improve balance, coordination and strength.
  • Buddha Board is a yoga vinyasa flow class performed atop the surfboard.

The Dallas location offers even more programming, including barre-based classes, circuit training, strength training, and cardio-focused classes.

I signed up for back-to-back classes to attend both City Surf and Buddha Board.

The RipSurfer X Indoor Surfboard

The RipSurfer X really does look like a surfboard. It's about 6 feet long and two feet wide, with a surfboard shape. At only 35 pounds, it's relatively easy to move around.

The board itself sits atop what looks like three small stability balls and is attached to a sturdy base with a tension system to help hold the board in place atop the balls.

The result is controlled instability. In other words, the board you stand on is highly unstable, but highly safe - you don't have to worry about the board falling off the balls and throwing you to the ground.

While I've never personally surfed, I have been stand up paddleboarding, wakeboarding and water skiing, so I can attest that the instability of the board is much like what you'd experience while on the water - the board can move in any direction based on your movements and balance atop the board.

Using the Board

I let the instructor know that it was my first time to class, and she introduced me to the board, letting me know that it was fine to go at my own pace, or to even perform exercises off to the side of the board as needed. She made it clear that the instability of the board can take some getting used to, and she'd share modifications for each exercise so I could ease my way in.

Luckily, I've done a lot of balance training, and while the first few minutes on the board took some getting used to, I adjusted quickly and found I didn't need to use many modifications.

The one thing that threw me was the length of the board. I'm six feet tall myself, and some of the exercises required me to be fully extended in a plank or pushup position on top of the board. This was fine when the exercise was a static hold, but when doing burpees or mountain climbers on the board, I was a little worried I might hop my feet off the end of it. I didn't realize until almost halfway through the class that the RipSurfer X has pads and small bumpers along the back edge, making it possible to successfully "feel"  the end of the board before you actually hit it.

This realization helped me get more comfortable with the active movements that required full extension.

The Class Experience

The City Surf class was tough! It was much like many of the interval training programs I put together on a regular basis, so it wasn't that the actual programming was out of my league, but it took additional mental engagement to account for the added instability of the board. I especially liked the surf inspired movements, such as "swimming" where you lie prone on the board and act as if you're swimming your arms through the water, and pop ups, where you learn to move from a prone position to a standing position on the board.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as big of a fan of the yoga class. This is probably because I tend to be fairly tight, so I really need to focus on each pose to make sure I'm getting a good stretch without risking injury. The added instability of the board made it more difficult for me to successfully and safely achieve each pose. I would have preferred the class on the ground. That said, many of the women in the class were raving about the experience at the end, so I do know that other people enjoyed it.

Finding a Class

You can search for a class in your area by heading to the SurfSet website. They list the certified trainers and studios that use their boards.

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