INDOOR SURFING is darn wobbly.
I can’t speak to the outdoor version; I assume it’s also wobbly — and with waves, breaks and possible sharks, also wet and precarious.
If none of those are your thing, and even if they are, Surfset is a good choice to work on strengthening, balance or keeping up your surf skills. The indoor surfboards balance on rubber balls and allow you to practice carving waves in relative safety close to the floor.
That doesn’t mean you won’t fall off. I did, several times, including one near face-plant — which would not dissuade me from going back.
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Mukilteo Fitness Bar is the only studio in the Seattle area with Surfset boards.
It’s a fun workout, though it would take an active imagination to feel like you’re at the beach. But the idea is to work on balance, and the more you do it, the more you can jump into harder workouts.
For the introductory class, owner Laurie George first had us get used to the feel of the board, stepping on and off, before advancing to jumping on and off. We practiced our surf stance, with feet wide on the board. We used our toes and heels to carve the board side to side. We also faced the top of the board in the stand-up paddleboard stance and played with transferring our weight from left to right.
I’ve spent a lot of time on stand-up paddleboards, and I couldn’t get over how wobbly the surfboard was. We practiced putting our weight on one foot, finding a stable spot, and lifting the other foot. We added moves such as water walker, where you dip one foot in the (imaginary) water.
We worked into the surf pop-up, lying flat on the board, moving our arms and legs like we were swimming, then pushed up, hopped one leg forward and stood up. The more comfortable you get, the faster you pop up right into the surf stance.
We also did intervals, hopping in and out of a squat from the floor to the board to get our heart rate up.
We threw in some mountain runners in a plank on the board and also did core work, balancing on our butts on the board in a V-shape, with additional “shark kicks,” kicking one foot at a time while punching with our hands.
The hardest moves for staying balanced were on our backs. We stretched out on our backs with our feet flat and knees bent; I felt like I was going to roll right off. When we lifted into bridge, I had to hang on.
The last big move was the 180. We got back into our surf stance, then using our upper bodies to twist in a half-circle, hopped to face the other way. I got it a few times, face-planted once, and had a blast.
At the end of class, Laurie had us test our balance again standing on one foot. I was far more stable that time.
I liked the constant balance required on the board. I could tell I was stabilizing my ankles and knees, and also could feel my core working throughout. Our class included a lot of focus on technique, and once you get it down, it would easily be an intense workout.
Surfset is a fun way to mix up your workouts, especially if you need to work on stabilizing your ankles and knees, and get stronger in your core. It gave me enough confidence to think I could even venture onto a real surfboard. Some day soon.
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.