Fit to Surf

The Surfer's Guide to Strength and Conditioning by Rocky Snyder

Copyright© 2003 by Rocky Snyder.  All rights reserved.
You must cite the author and source of this content if you wish to use or reprint it in any form.


Rocky Snyder FIt to SurfI've been involved with athletics ever since I was a kid.  I was born and raised in New England, where the seasons change abruptly every three months, so I found myself competing in many different sports.  However, one sport I never experience until moving to Santa Cruz, California, was surfing.

The ironic part of this story is that I spent my summers as a boy at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, with waves that provide one  of the best beach breaks in New England.  To add to this, in the basement of my Massachusetts home was a classic longboard that had not been used since the 1960s.

I moved to Santa Cruz in 1991 and immediately fell in love with California.  I was hired by a local health club and began my career as a personal fitness trainer, becoming certified as a strength and conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S.)

Before I get further into this book, I feel that I must make a confession and an apology.  I confess that when I first encountered the surfing community of Santa Cruz, I thought they were just a bunch of people who did nothing all day but either surf or stand on the cliffs and watch the waves.  It was not until I experience my own love of wave riding that I learned this was far from the truth.  Prejudices are based on ignorance, and I found that I was creating ignorant opinions based on a small stereotypical group.  For this, I deeply apologize to the entire surfing community.  I thought surfers were nothing but loud-mouthed deadbeats.  The surfers I have befriended are the most generous, caring, and friendly people I have ever met.

While working at the health club, I befriended a member named Janice Weaver, the wife of Robert "Wingnut" Weaver – who was one of the stars of the second Endless Summer surfing documentary.  In the fall of that year, for  a birthday present, Janice and Wingnut took me surfing at Pleasure Point (on ethe east side of Santa Cruz).  Little did I know that this day would change my life forever.

We paddled out to a small point break and by the time we reached the spot my arms were completely thrashed.  I had thought I was in great shape because I worked out at least two hours every day.  But out here, old overweight guys and little wahines were paddling circles around me.  I caught my breath as I waited for my burning arms to recover.

Wingnut turned to me and said "Here comes your wave.  Turn around and paddle.  When you feel the wave pick you up, get up on the board."

That was the extent of his instructions.  I stared paddling toward shore as I felt the wave lift me up.  Wingnut gave me a push down the face of the wave, I popped up on my feet, and I rode the wave straight in until it backed off fifty feed later.  Wow!  What a sensation!  My first wave!

Since then, hardly a day passes that I do not stand on the cliffs and check out the ocean or listen to buoy reports.  My tide book is always within reach.  I quit my job at the health club to open my own athletic center at Pleasure Point, right beside the Santa Cruz Surf Shop.  I live a hundred yards from the waves and my quiver has grown to consist of nine boards, from a 6-foot-6 beauty to the 10-foot classic that used to sit neglected in my Massachusetts home.  My professional work in fitness training and my love of surfing eventually resulted in my decision to write Fit to Surf.

I now train fitness clients each weekday during the mornings and later in the evenings; I surf in the afternoons and on weekends.  I have become one of the people that I had made fun of in my ignorant years.

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