Surf your way into shape this summer

Jun 11, 2008 at 8:43 a.m. ET

Stoked to try something new this summer? Get your surf on! A favorite fitness activity of super-fit celebs like Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz, surfing is not only super fun, but offers a killer cardio workout to boot. Here is what you need to know before you hit the waves.

Woman with Surf Board


Like many sports, surfing was once dominated by men. But today, the waves tell a different story. From 2001 to 2005, the proportion of women among the 2.3 million surfers worldwide jumped from 19 percent to 33 percent, according to Board-Trac, a board-sports market research company. Female-focused apparel brands have driven major revenue into the billion-dollar surfing industry, with top-seller Roxy increasing their sales from $20 million to $650 million in the past ten years. Plus, there are now magazines and websites (check out Surfer Girl and Wahine Surfing) focused solely on the girls.


And it's no wonder so many women are flocking to the water, the sport whips you into teeny bikini shape before you can say "itsy bitsy." A 150-pound woman will burn about 215 calories in just one hour in the waves, and all of that paddling, balancing, and cutting through the water works arms, abs, and legs. But it's not just your muscles getting a boost: Many swear by the stress-reducing and relaxing effects of the sport (surfer girl Cameron Diaz describes it as a "religious experience"). After all, what can be more Zen than becoming one with the waves?


When it comes to where to catch the killer waves, exotic locales like Tahiti, Bali, and Hawaii win hands-down. These isolated islands offer an amazing expanse of coastline that attracts hardcore surfers like a magnet. But you don't have to travel to the South Pacific to satisfy your surfing urges. In fact, you can get a taste for the waves throughout North America -- from the Jersey Shore to Lake Michigan and all along the California coastline.

For an extensive list of beginner surf spots throughout the country, plus links to where you get find lessons in each area, check out Outside Magazine's guide to The Best North American Beginner Surf Spots.


Before you hit the waves this summer, be sure your bod's board-ready. First, you should be a solid swimmer and totally at peace in the ocean. If not, you may want to spend some time getting in tune with the undulating currents and pounding surf by boogie boarding or body surfing.

And to prep for paddling and balancing on the board, workouts targeting your core are key. Try these core-strengthening moves, or check out this video for a surf-style core workout. Then, get stoked to Hang Ten!