Olas Surf Safaris for Women founder Bev Sanders talks
about how she got started in surfing and stays fit
for the waves.
"It amazes me how many mature women have considered
the sport, but think surfing is strictly for the
young. As one who started surfing at age 44, I believe
it's never too late. And once you start there's no
reason to stop.
13 years of teaching women to surf has taught me
some things. Foremost, surfer girls come in all shapes,
sizes, and from all walks of life. At Las Olas, we've
seen the mother who came to surf camp just to hang
out with her daughters keeping up with the young
athletes in the lineup. I can never guess who'll
get the bug.
Myth Number One: Upper body strength is essential.
While upper body strength is important for paddling
and popping up, it's not as important as what I
consider holistic fitness. This is a balance of
strength, flexibility, and a mental openness to
Myth Number Two: You must be a
Of course, the ability to swim is essential, but
does a surfer have to be a triathlete swimmer?
The answer is no. More important is a knowledge
of wave action and currents. A calm head will get
you to the surface, back on your board, and out
of the whitewater. No amount of physical strength
will substitute awareness and a bit of experience.
Myth Number Three: You have to
be good at sports to surf.
The more physical activities you do, the better,
but being athletic isn't a necessity for surfing.
Sports have been a large part of my life, from bicycling
to skiing to snowboarding and now surfing. Every
activity helped, but surfing is unique. There's a
line "Only a surfer knows." I think that's
true. Just try and explain the stoke to someone who
hasn't done it. So stay active, but don't worry if
you're not an accomplished athlete.
I like to dance because there's something about music
that makes me forget I'm actually exercising. Lately,
I've been enjoying Zumba classes based on Latin
rhythms, but I'll start dancing just about whenever
I hear music. I just love it.
Dancing is a great way to tone arms, legs, and torso.
It's also a low impact way to increase cardio and
is great for coordination. Shifting weight from foot
to foot reminds me of how a skilled longboarder will
cross step to the nose of her board. Dancing also
helps develop flexibility, balance, and grace. And
lastly, dancing is really fun. So, dance like no
one is watching, whenever you feel like it.
Flexibility rates very high for me when preparing
for the surf. For good reason, yoga is practiced
every morning at Las Olas. Yoga is also great for
building core strength, a key to overall physical
stamina. It helps surfers relax, breathe, and best
of all, develop patience for themselves and others.
Learning to go with the flow, rather than against
it, is a key ingredient to enjoying the waves.
Free your mind and your body will follow. Free
your mind and you can surf.
Ditch the Car
Practice conscious transportation. A few years back,
I gave up my car, so I walk everywhere I can. Luckily,
living in a small town makes it easy. Walking has
made a difference in my overall fitness. I meet
new friends, reduce stress, and enjoy the neighborhood.
Biking is also a great way to travel and the freewheeling
fun on my bicycle reminds me of being a kid.
Friends will inspire you. There's a group of women
where I live who get together every Tuesday morning
for a hike, kayak, or bike ride. They set aside
the hours and go without fail. Having a buddy to
exercise with regularly will motivate you.
Think young. Be young.
We make girls out of women. This is a concept at
the foundation of Las Olas and it can apply to
many things in life. Loosen up, smile often, laugh
even more. I really enjoy tumbling around in the
surf. It reminds me of when I was ten years old.
I'll admit, I've paddled out, sat for hours and
didn't catch a wave, but something about surfing
is so fresh and youthful that I wasn't even frustrated.
Again, that's still the girl in me.
See you in the lineup.