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  • Writer's pictureKim K

Dancing on Waves: Pilates: Surfing’s Best Kept Secret

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

There are so many Surf workouts now since Covid-19 hit, which do you


I browsed around the internet and researched what most of the surf

workouts are composed of: mostly HIIT workouts. Now, I agree there should

be some component, but not all since surfing consists of explosive

movements and not training in more of an overall flexibility and mobility

way can result in injury. It has to be well-rounded and not too one-way. Some

workouts focus on mobility, but in my opinion, since you need to be supple

when you surf, you need more mobility and flexibility training in your

workout, less HIIT training. Save the explosive training for actual surfing and

when the waves are not favorable, swim or then do the explosive movements

on land.

Why do you think I say this? I experience surfing like dance, and I genuinely

believe Surfers are actual wave dancers. Dance training is the hardest on

dancer's bodies as athletes. What a dancer does to balance out rigorous

training is Pilates! I think surfers miss an opportunity to train a little less

harsh and give their joints a bit more love and care with Pilates. They will last

longer in the sport.

Now let's way out the facts as to why I believe this.

Surfing is Dance

Surfing and dance are so similar. The Ocean is the stage, the waves are your

dance partner and your surfboard is your dance shoes, whether it be pointe

shoes in ballet or character shoes in modern dance, you are dancing on the

waves. Dance is an art form and so is surfing, well to me anyway.

The similarities are endless. Longboarding is the ballet of surfing with cross-

stepping, which reminds me of the Little Swan (Cygnets)quartet from Swan

Lake. See below:

Knee drop turns, Hang 5 and Hang 10 remind me of port de bras: ( carriage

of the arms) and other ballet steps. The link below is a famous ballet solo

called The Dying Swan; this sums up how beautiful longboarding is to me.

Shortboarding reminds me more of modern dance. It is more athletic and

powerful, but to execute those maneuvers, you need complete control over

your body as a dancer does.

Here are some examples of how the body moves in dance and surf. These

pictures are not the exact movements, but they are similar.

So now to attain these flawless movements is yes, surf and dance as much as

possible. As an ex-dancer, we always broke down all the steps and then

rebuilt them to make a perfect dance. Repetition is crucial for attaining

perfection and fluidity. As a surfer, we should do the same to improve. One

thing the dancer does is Pilates to strengthen their bodies so they can

execute the dance moves effortlessly and flawlessly. Pilates also helps find

the hidden imperfections or imbalances of the body and helps correct it, or if

it is a structural imbalance, Pilates teaches you to work with it.

I started correlating Pilates and surfing when I began to learn to surf and

found surprising results. Of course, there were holes in the traditional Pilates

workout that needed to be reworked. For example, paddling needed the

interval training, so I added that based on the Pilates principles. I also placed

the Pilates exercises on an unstable surface to assimilate water. I developed a

fitness surfboard that doubles as an unstable Pilates mat and a surf training

tool on land. It was then Surfilates was born. As I grow as a surfer and train in

different modalities, I pull in specific exercises and blend it with Pilates to

further develop Surfilates.

So there you have it, surfing is dance and dance is an art form so is surfing.
Pilates is surfing's greatest secret.
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