Total Surfing Fitness Killed Mr. Chunky

When I was in the period towards the end of my amateur surfing career (if you can call it that!), I frequently worked out with my surf team. I enjoyed the running, the paddle races, and the endless series of heats we ran. After I began to move away from surfing in contests, the exercising began to drop back as well. However, wanting to be one of the top guys in the water was something that I could not drop. So after a long work week of being Mr. Middle Management, I would show up at my local beach and force myself through hours of contortions and bad wipeouts.  To further add to the problem, my friends and I enjoyed surfing for incredible amounts of time without taking any form of a break. I am sure my fiance could vouch for me that I have been in the water for well over 4 hours at a time.

I don’t know how or why I was able to go for so long without any incidents but like anything you ignore in life, it is going to snow ball and finally do you in. Then one winter day it exploded.

My friend Scott and I went to surf some blown-out junky surf and my back was not feeling so hot but I still suited up and went out. The first duck dive was pretty painful and with each duck dive the pain just increased. To make matters worse, the inside was just churning with wave after wave breaking with no real space between the sets. Finally, I  made it out and I could barely paddle. I ended up just catching one short ride and going in to shore. Even more of an insult was that I had drifted a huge distance and had to limp back against the cold winter wind.

I knew at that point that I had to do something but I was in no condition to even exercise. After speaking with my fiance, I decided to visit her in Fortaleza, Brazil and I booked a flight for a month out. I still had my back pain and surfing was out the window for the month but I was really looking forward to healing and being in sunny Brazil. So the day comes for my trip and going through customs in Brazil was a complete nightmare. I had a very limited amount of time before my domestic flight was scheduled to leave and the customs area was slow and very disorganized so I was starting to feel a bit nervous about the time situation. Well, in my rush, my suitcase flipped to the side while I was pulling it along at a fast walking speed and I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder as I tried to man handle the case back to the upright position while still trying to rush for the customs gate. I pushed on but I knew something was very wrong. The end result was that I arrived in Fortaleza with not only a messed up back but I also added a few pulled muscles in my shoulder area to the mix. Game over.

During that trip, I looked at the pictures of myself and hated every one of them that featured me without a shirt on. I looked doughy and bloated. Where did that guy go that used to be in shape and surfed so well? Something had to change quick and I was going to do whatever it took to ensure that happened.

When I arrived in Florida, I began to do a lot of research and figured that of course I needed to exercise but more importantly I came across some research that showed me that on the rare occasion that I was exercising, it was all wrong for surfers and what I was doing was even causing me more harm than good. Then I stumbled upon a life changing site called Total Surfing Fitness created by Australian Clyde Beatty. Ever watch the ASP contests and see Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, and Owen Wright rolling around on balls and kicking their legs like a member of the Rockettes? Well, that is what this site shows you to do and believe me…it works!

When I first started, I could barely even do the warm up exercises because of the pain but I cut down on the number of repetitions and only did the less demanding ones. As time went by, the exercises became easier and easier. As I added more complex exercises, I began to notice that my surfing was starting to return to a level more like the good old days and my turns were becoming more crisp and more powerful. As of today, I have actual definition in my body and although I know I can drop a few more pounds still; I feel 100% better than before. I can also do sets of exercises standing on one leg so my balance has greatly improved as well. I still have not pulled any full rotation airs but if I keep going on this plan it may one day just happen!

So if you surf or you are just looking for a way to exercise without the gym then check out this site and incorporate it into your life. One can do a lot of the exercises without equipment just to get themselves started. As for myself, in order to do the advanced exercises, I bought a Bosu Ball, stability balls, and some weights and I am progressing even though I have not stepped foot into a gym in years.  For surfers, doing the correct exercises is important because our sport requires a lot of twisting and balance and also you need to build up your ability to generate power in short durations. Total Surfing Fitness excercises also ensure that the user is engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time like one does while surfing instead of isolating a single muscle such as when a body builder just does a set of bicep curls. A final factor is that when we paddle our surfboards, we arch our lower back and this area can receive a lot of pressure. Thus,  you have to ensure you are limber enough to not create lower back strain which certain forms of standard exercises do not promote.

Be safe and surf smart and if you are looking to boost your performance then give it a go!

The site is


About 1stpeaksteve

Welcome to The Side Wedge! The Side Wedge is a product of the journey through life of Steve Zima. Former professional surfer, a writer, surf coach, and hospitality manager. This is a collection of travel tips, motivation, and stories from my past. Finally, I offer surf coaching through The Side Wedge. Please feel free to contact me with questions if you want to improve your performance today! Thanks for reading!
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2 Responses to Total Surfing Fitness Killed Mr. Chunky

  1. Scott says:

    Good on ya Mate, You throw tail just not 4ft out the back.

    • I want to do more than flail in the kelp like a sick sea otter when I visit you! I am sure a fatter me would do you better though… As a means to lure the sharks away from you as they mistake me for an Elephant Seal. Not this time!

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