Activities don't come much more wholesome than surfing. You're in the ocean, soaking up a daily dose of nature and getting a great workout while you're at it, but that's not to say you can't improve your fitness out of the water to achieve more while you're in it.
Over the years Australian surfers like Tom Carroll and Mick Fanning have become world champions by pairing their superb talents with incredible ironman-levels of fitness, but even recreational surfers can benefit from the occasional cardio session or boot camp class.
Surfing requires supreme cardio-vascular fitness for the endless hours of paddling, both high intensity when out of breath and trying to get away from trouble, or lower intensity longer paddles back out at pointbreaks or on big days. Paddling develops strong back, shoulder and arm muscles but can be a killer for posture, so yoga and stretching are often recommended to correct all those little issues. If you can't be near the ocean, swimming is a fantastic substitute to keep your go-to muscle groups in shape and improve your surf fitness.
Big wave surfers have long studied free-diving and breath-holding techniques to increase their chances of survival in enormous surf, and swear by the resulting lung capacity development and increased confidence in scary situations.
The actual act of surfing requires both intense bursts of explosive strength and power, and the endurance to last the distance on long, leg-burning waves, so cycling and running can be beneficial to your surfing game. Playing other sports like soccer will keep your reflexes sharp while still putting some high intensity miles into your legs, and champion surfers like Fanning and Jordy Smith both have a history of success on the pitch as promising juniors.
Kelly Slater is surfing as well as ever at 43 years of age, and swears by the discipline, flexibility and strength he has gained from years of practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. So while many claim the best training for surfing is surfing, it's hard to argue with the multi-disciplined approach of the greatest of all time.
Australian surfer and talented multi-sport athlete Sally Fitzgibbons has taken her quest for wellbeing to the next level and released her recent book Live Like Sally in an attempt to inspire young girls to look after themselves and their fitness. The success of the book has spawned an app – Train Like Sally – which encourages those same young women to keep striving for a healthy, fun lifestyle, and offers video workouts and all manner of training suggestions.