SurfSET Fitness is one of the most original workout concepts I’ve heard of in quite some time. You get to surf. Inside. With no possibility of sharks nibbling your toes.
They had me at hello.
Utilizing the RipSurferX, a surfboard which is perched atop a few inflated body ball discs, SurfSET Fitness aims to simulate surfing’s strength and cardiovascular training benefits, bringing the sport to those who can’t make it out onto open water. (Or, in my case, who are afraid of the creatures within it.) And for the month of April, SurfSET collaborated with RateYourBurn to bring NYC’s most beloved fitness instructors onto the teacher’s board, all of whom incorporated their own personal fitness bent into each individual class. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I opted to take class with Physique 57’s famed Chanelle Lagace. Chanelle is the creator of Formula 57, which is a mash-up of Pilates and Physique 57’s original barre-work class. It’s a great class if you’re looking for a concentrated core workout. I’ve taken and loved her classes before, so I knew I was in for a fun (and tough) 45 minutes.
Since the RipSurferX constantly shifts from side to side, threatening to topple you over with your every move, core strength and stability are key. And since you’re set a few feet off the ground, simple movements are nothing but simple. Our warm-up of various squats and lunges also doubled as an orientation to working it on the surf board. Then Chanelle got fancy, leading us in a series of squatted hops and jumps, step-ups onto the board, and some fancy one-legged moves that made me feel like that scene in Dirty Dancing when Baby and Johnny danced it out on the tree trunk. We quickly transitioned to a series of planks and push-ups, mountain climbers, and then standing splits. Though my core was screaming by this point, I DIDN’T FALL OFF! Phew.
Two pulleys positioned at the front of the surf board serve as paddling simulators. They work just as you’d image paddling on the open water would, and engage your shoulders, triceps and upper back. Chanelle led us though a few sets that really felt like surfing: lie on your belly, paddle ferociously, then pop up onto your feet, catch your balance, and then duck dive back down. Rinse, repeat. My muscles were working overtime on this set, since the instability of the surfboard intensified the difficulty of performing any sweeping movement.
Before I knew it, we were on our lower backs with table-topped legs for core work. (Though really, I’d categorize the entire class as “core work.”) This section felt like Formula 57 atop an unstable surface and included leg raises, Pilates arm pumps, crisscrosses, and full body roll-ups and teasers. It flew by surprisingly quickly, and then were standing back up on the board, using light weights (3-5lbs) for the final arm series. I’m always shocked by how intense of a burn those baby weights can create. Just when I thought I couldn’t keep my arms up a moment longer, Chanelle shifted the movement slightly, and we burned on. Finally, we were through, stretching for just a couple of minutes before hopping off our boards, clapping it out for a job well done, and drinking a metric ton of water.
I can’t stop raving to my friends about how “gnarly” the SurfSET workout was. It was incredibly challenging, and because I was so distracted by my effort to not fall of the board, I barely noticed the time pass. It’s a great class to add to your regular exercise rotation, since it really changes things up by engaging muscles that might ordinarily lie dormant. (I’m looking at you, lats.)
While the celebrity instructor pop-up shop is now closed (I literally got in on the last day), SurfSET will be opening up a permanent studio in NYC this coming September. If you’re like me and can’t wait ‘til then, the SurfSET crew is teaming up with the Solo Event Space on May 16th for a night of “Surfing on Wall Street.” If you’re interested, you can sign up here. I’ll be at the 7pm class, trying my hardest not to fall off. Let me know if you’ll be there too!