NEW YORK - Equinox, a nine-unit health club chain, has launched Surf Flex workout, an hour-long exercise class designed to enhance the strength, endurance, flexibility and balance needed for surfing.
The on-land training involves doing various exercises on a Swiss ball, a large inflated ball that neurological surgeons started using in Italy for spinal rehabilitation in the Sixties to develop balance, strengthen stabilizing muscles and simulate surfing.
The class is taught by Paul Frediani, an Equinox elite plus trainer who put the U.S. Surf team through the same drill this winter in the Dominican Republic to gear up for its exhibition at September's Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Frediani, a former Golden Gloves boxer, developed the program about eight years ago, when his son, Paolo, was sidelined with a bum knee and unable to get back on his board. After an unsuccessful search for information about surf conditioning, Frediani decided to write a book and develop an exercise program. In September, his book "Surf Flex" will be published by Hatherleigh, which also published his other titles, "Boot Camp Workout" and "Golf Flex."
Most people don't realize the wear and tear surfing takes on the knees, lower back, shoulders and proprioception - the sense of balance - Frediani said.
A member of Equinox's Surf Flex workout class balances on a large inflated ball
During the Surf Flex class, participants do lunges, crunches and stretches to the sounds of Aqua Velvet, the Safaris and the Beach Boys. Most of the movements stem from Pilates, yoga and strength training. It's not exactly a surfing safari, but most people burn between 200 and 600 calories per class.
While the bulk of participants are not surfers, some have inquired about taking lessons and ways to support the U.S. Surf team. Others are not so consumed by visions of crashing waves.
"This doesn't have to be about surfing. It could be about running your best 10-k or climbing a mountain. It depends where you're surfing in your mind," Frediani said. "It's phenomenal training for golfers and tennis players because it helps build stabilizing muscles."
- Rosemary Feitelberg