I remember a time when surfing was about having the right hair and owning a surfboard. Where I grew up people didn't, and probably still don't, understand the difference between surfing and windsurfing. Fast forward to now and you have dedicated teams of people available to make sure you are at the peak of your fitness in your chosen sport and guess what, surfing is one of them.
I wanted to speak to the best possible person about just how much conditioning and training can be focused for our sport and if it really makes much of a difference. To my surprise, after asking around, I ended up in Cornwall in the UK and had a very informed chat with Sam Guy from Cornwall High Performance.
SB: Hey Sam, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us at Surf Bunker. How did you get into surfing and fitness?
Sam: Hi SB! I got into strength and conditioning way before I actually properly started surfing. I am hopefully better at my job than I am at surfing. I knew I wanted to be involved in the world of fitness from the age of 16 when I started my college course. This then led onto a degree in sports science, I then specialised in strength and conditioning for sports performance. In terms of surfing, I started properly at the age of about 20, and I still feel as rubbish as I did when I first started!
SB: When did you realise that improved fitness, in the right way could help your surfing? How much can it help?
Sam: A HUGE amount if done correctly. Surfing in the elite has moved towards what I would term a “jumping and landing” sport. Surfers are performing big manoeuvres and then having to absorb the forces from them. A good underpinning strength base can improve power through turns and manoeuvres, increase paddle power and speed, and also help the athlete to absorb the forces they experience from big airs and manoeuvres. In surfers like ourselves SB, increased flexibility and mobility can help us get into the “shapes” we need to find for surfing, and simply improving our aerobic and anaerobic fitness can make those big paddle outs feel a little easier!
SB: Apart from surfing which other sports can Cornwall High Performance help with?
Sam: CHP work with a variety of sports at all age groups. Sports-wise, we work with surfing, surf lifesaving, gig rowing, football, hockey, track and field, tennis, volleyball, hockey, underwater hockey and rugby to name but a few.
SB: Do your clients have to be professional athletes or can you guys help just average Joe Bloggs like me?
Sam: Our mission here at CHP is to help teams and individuals excel in their chosen sport, and through our knowledge, drive and passion for what we do, we will ensure performance levels are maximised. So, whether you are an individual looking to get into the best shape of your life, or you are a seasoned athlete, we have the knowledge and skill set to cater for your needs. We have a wide variety of people on our books!
SB: What would be your advice to a young surfing pro starting out who did not think they needed to work on fitness:
Sam: You absolutely 100% need to be doing it, all the tops guys have clocked on and are strength training now! It will improve every aspect of your surfing and your athleticism! It will also bullet proof you from injury! It also shows discipline and dedication to wanting to become a better athlete, if you have the day in day out determination to show up to your gym sessions and work on your fitness, this will have a direct crossover to how successful you are at surfing!
SB: Has Cornwall High Performance have many professional athletes on its books?
Sam: To date just a couple of surfers, however we are looking to increase those numbers in both surfing and of course other sports!
SB: Do you watch the WSL often, if so who do you think will win this year?
Sam: Here at CHP we do watch the WSL, I have liked the look of Julian Wilson this year, however, I don’t think he will win it! For both of us at CHP we think Mick will take the title, with an awesome style of surfing, real power and speed, alongside his experience he will take the title!
SB: Can you describe how it felt the first time you surfed a wave?
Sam: I just remember thinking this is extremely fast and also felt much bigger than it looked, once I had that taste I was hooked!
SB: The most blinding advert for fitness within surfing is the champion of
our sport, Mr Robert Kelly Slater, look what it did for him. That
knowledge is now available for you. Cornwall High Performance are a big blip on the fitness radar right now, with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips and the means to put that knowledge onto practise. All to help you guys. From a personal point of view the idea of 'bulletproofing' myself from injury alone sounds like a must have. Both Sam and Rob are down to earth, approachable guys who want to help people reach there goals so look the guys up on social media or visit their website and have a chat.