Pictured above is Aryn Farris, team rider for Extreme Athletics — the top surf training facility on the west coast. They’re leading the charge which is taking surfing from a mere lifestyle activity to a true high performance sport. And like any sport, remaining competitive requires training.
Extreme Athletics has been training surfers for 20 years and has received multiple degrees and certifications. The owners have been compiling the most comprehensive training programs for their clients and have built their name on being innovators in land-based, surf specific training that has enhanced the skills of countless surfers.
I sat down with their co-founder, Paul Norris, to discuss how he’s taken pro surfers to the next level through a highly competitive and an intense training regimen designed to maximize the full surfing potential of his clients.
Conscious Connection: How did you come to start Extreme Athletics?
Paul Norris: My business partner, Jon Brown, and I have been training athletes for a combined 15 years. And in the last six years, we have been more focused on training surfers. Jon and I met while working at a local health club and we both realized that we shared a passion for surfing and fitness. We both wanted to be our own bosses and with careful planning, Extreme Athletics was born. Jon is a genius when it comes designing surf specific training programs and I have experience on the business side of the health & fitness industry so we felt that we couldn’t lose if we teamed up. We opened in February 2012 and have gotten a lot of notoriety and we haven’t look back since.
Conscious Connection: Tell us about how regimented training helps with sports like surfing.
Paul Norris: Sport specific training has been around for decades. It is now starting to pick up some steam in the action sports industry. Most surfers used to think that surfing alone would help them get better; it will. But now you need to add more pieces to the puzzle. With surfing becoming more competitive and companies downsizing their teams, there isn’t as much room as there used to be. You now see top guys on tour doing surf specific training and actually traveling with their trainers. I believe that kids are starting to learn that you need to be more well-rounded if you want to make a career out of surfing. That is where surf specific training comes in. Surfing requires full body power, strength and flexibility as well as endurance. A regimented program will help in all of these areas and if you want to be a competitive surfer, then it is imperative that you implement a well-rounded routine into your program.
Conscious Connection: What kind of land-based training benefits surfing the most?
Paul Norris: In my opinion, a well-rounded program is going to be the best fit. Surfers need to be strong in their core and lower body as well as flexible for all of the dynamic movements that surfing demands of them. Surfers will benefit the most from a power, strength and flexibility program. Every aspect needs to be worked on with a heavy emphasis on rotational power and strength, lower body power and strength, upper body power and strength with endurance and stability mixed into the picture.
EA’s State of the Art Surf Training Facility
Conscious Connection: Any recommended exercises for people just starting a surf training regimen?
Paul Norris: We typically start new people on a basic surf training program. We take a look at their mobility and work from there. Most surfers have very tight shoulders and tend to squat on their toes while their knees fold in. I would recommend squats on an Indo Board or any unbalanced surface and build up to multiple high rep sets. Bungee rotations is a great exercise to build core power and strength; this can also be done on an unbalanced surface.
We love to have our clients lay on a physio-ball and paddle using dumbbells or a bungee attached to the wall. This involves a ton of core strength and helps them build up their endurance (try holding your breath while paddling for 60 seconds). And maybe one of the most important exercises for surfers, stability. Surfing puts a lot of stress on the hips, knees and ankles so stability training will help strengthen those small muscles surrounding these areas as well as the tendons and ligaments. Have your client stand on one leg on an unbalanced surface and bend over and pick up cones or kettle-bells. This will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles in the ankles and knees.
Conscious Connection: Why can yoga be good for athletes and surfers looking to take themselves to the next level?
Paul Norris: Yoga is such a great addition to any surf specific training program. Like I said before, most surfers are tight in their shoulders and lower body. And with surfing being such a dynamic sport that requires a lot of mobility, yoga will help correct most mobility issues. Remember, you have to dedicate just as much time healing the body as you do to beating it up. We sometimes forget that and get caught up in straight training routines. One yoga session a week can help you recover from three hard days of training.
Conscious Connection: Any final tips for a surfer looking to begin a surf training regimen?
Paul Norris: Yes! Make sure that you find a qualified trainer that has been working with athletes for at least a couple years and it doesn’t hurt if he surfs as well. With so many fads out there, people lose sight of what a well-rounded program should actually look like. It’s so easy to get hurt with these programs that you will be OUT of the water when all you wanted to do was log more hours IN the water.
Conscious Connection: What’s in store for the future of Extreme Athletics?
Paul Norris: We are currently just trying to build our brand and spread awareness to the national community. We are growing larger every week and we want to continue to deliver excellence service to our clients and help them achieve their possible best. We just inked a deal with IMG Action Sports to be the official training partner for the Vans US Open this year. This is the biggest thing to happen to Extreme Athletics and we are truly grateful. After this we are looking to expand and provide our service to as many people as possible.