Dancing on Waves: Pilates, Surfing’s Best Kept Secret
There are so many Surf workouts now since Covid-19 hit, which do you choose?
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.
I experience surfing like dance, and I genuinely believe Surfers are actual
wave dancers. Dance training is the hardest on dancer's bodies and they are
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
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
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. That moment was when 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.