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The Complete & Easy Guide to Surfing

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Vicky Philpott

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Written by: Rebecca Root

At one point or another every girl has had a gut filled with envy for someone like Cameron Diaz. Oh to be able to stroll around bikini clad, cocktail in one hand, board in another looking every inch the surfer pro.
In the magical island of Bali, this was my goal; to have at least one Diaz-inspired moment gliding atop the waves looking like the ultimate surfer babe. With my best bikini on, hair tied back and a spritz of sunscreen, it was time to hit Kuta beach for a lesson of surfing 101.
While I hadn’t expected to master the waves first time, nothing prepared me for the brutal beating my surf board was about to give me. The local instructor doesn’t warn about the stinging eyes, constant water up your nose and epic board burn. So here are a few first-timer surfing rules to keep you afloat and, fingers crossed, looking like a Home and Away star:

What to wear

Don’t make my mistake and turn up in a teeny bikini. If you do you could be forced to wear some sodden football shirt fifty people have worn before you. A full body wetsuit is the only way to go – you’ll need it to avoid a painful bout of board rash.
Surfing guide

Going solo or teacher time?

Whether it’s Bali or Cornwall, there’s bound to be an abundance of surf schools. Just check out a few and barter down your price for a few hours with someone who knows the waves. Although it may look easy, teaching yourself could result in some seaside setbacks.

What to expect

Surfing is harder than it looks. The waves are fierce, the board is pretty heavy and mastering the art of balance is a mean feat. Be prepared for some serious physical exercise, but a whole load of laughs too.

How to prepare

In reality there’s no way of avoiding those first timer aches and pains. But, if you have a good instructor they’ll have you lunging and squatting before your toes even touch the sand.
Although it could be difficult when backpacking, try and get in some swimming beforehand. Practice your front crawl and maybe even your doggy paddle too.

Pre surf exercises

It’s all about making sure your vitals are warmed up, so legs, arms and torso. Of course there are the lunges and squats that are pretty much mandatory, but also do some leg rotations and butt drops. These will loosen up the main joints and prepare your body for the intense exercise to come.

How to pratice on land

Before delving head first into the deep blue, it’s necessary to master the basics on land. A good instructor will teach you about your board and the right way to stand.
Begin lying flat and use your arms to paddle as fast you can. Your feet are slightly apart and are poised on the toes. Then push up from the board, without using your knees, and get onto your feet.
Stand with one foot facing out the way, the other foot facing the front of the board and shoulder width apart. Bend the knees and use the arms for balance stretched out in front.
Surfing guide

How to build up

After the false sense of easiness on the sand, no doubt your first time in the water will be a little rough. The waves are a lot stronger than anticipated and it can be hard to stay balanced. Take deep breaths, listen to your instructor and get ready for the most terrifyingly brilliant next few hours.
Get to know the different waves, learn which ones can be ridden and when to stand up. Facing the shore you look over your shoulder and judge when a wave is ready to ride. Just as it creeps behind and you feel the surge, jump onto your feet.
Start when you’re not too far out and build up to bigger waves.

Getting back up

OK, so you’ve fallen off, and not too gracefully one might add. Legs in the air, pretty disastrous wedgie and a mouth full of salt water. Take a moment to catch your breath and slick the tresses back from your forehead. Inconspicuously release the wedgie under the water and laugh it off. Everyone falls off so it’s no biggie. It’s all about having fun and getting back up.

Post surf exercises

After possibly one of the most laugh-out-loud workouts to date, it’s pretty imperative you warm down just like any other sport. Nothing is going to stop you feeling like you’ve done a set two with Mike Tyson the next day but we can try. Stretch everything out and take time to make sure each leg and arm muscle is adequately limbered out.
Above all, enjoy yourself. Surfing is a tough but awesome way to do some fun exercise and get fit.

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