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Camp Surf

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by Chris Brown

Getting started
As the owner of a surf school, I’m approached daily by people with questions about how to start surfing. Here’s what I tell people.

Step 1: Learn surfing etiquette


Start with a lesson with a knowledgeable surf instructor or friend. Do not attempt to just paddle out on your own and “wing it.” You will be a danger to yourself and others. The most common mistake I see from novice surfers is paddling out into a crowded line-up. Until you are comfortable controlling your board and avoiding others, search for an empty stretch of beach where can make mistakes and not hurt anyone else. Leave the advanced surfers to battle it out on the local “Star Bar” or highest quality waves around.

Step 2: Get appropriate equipment


I highly recommend starting on a big softboard. For a normal sized adult, I suggest something in the 9-foot to 10-foot range. A bigger board will make it easier to catch waves and will provide more stability while you are struggling to get to your feet. The most common mistake is to emulate experienced surfers who are ripping on sleek, little 6-foot foam and fiberglass boards. After learning the basics on a softboard for a year or so, you will have the ability required to ride whatever type of board that interests you.

Step 3: Diet and exercise


This isn’t rocket science. The better your fitness level, the easier it will be to excel at a strenuous activity like surfing. At the risk of sounding like your mom, I will tell you to eat more fruits and vegetables; drink less soda and eat fewer processed foods. Start working out. If you’re already lifting weights or going to the gym, try to vary your exercise routine with yoga, Pilates or some other form of cross-training. Your goal is to become as fit and flexible as possible. Be realistic. If you can’t do a push-up on the floor in your living room, don’t expect that you’re going to magically pop to your feet once you’re out in the ocean. Give yourself an honest fitness assessment and realize that it might make sense to begin a diet/exercise routine before even attempting your first paddle out.

Once you have learned surfing etiquette, acquired the correct equipment and worked on your fitness level, you will be ready to go out and catch your first waves.

See you in the water,

Chris Brown is the executive director of Campsurf. For more information visit campsurf.com.

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