This is a guest post from Jay Recinto from Warm Winds Surf Shop on Rhode Island. While I’m an avid snorkeler, I’ve never tried surfing but I’m willing to listen to what an expert says on the topic. Here’s Jay.
There’s a saying that, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” A lot of middle-aged men feel that whatever skills they have at this point, that’s it. This belief also applies to sports. Sure, they’re thinking that maybe they can start running. There’s almost nothing to it. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and just do it fast.
But did you know that a lot of middle-aged men are taking up surfing? There’s a common misconception that surfing is a young man’s sport. It’s easy to see why this is the case. After all, it can be physically-demanding. Some of the best surfers in the world started really early. For example, Brett Simpson, Laura Crane and Mitch Crews started before the age of 12 . Kelly Slater, aka The Michael Jordan of Surfing, started surfing when he was 5 years old, but don’t let this discourage you. For what it’s worth, Slater won the ASP World Tour Champion crown when he was 39 years old. Elissa Steamer traded in her skateboard for a surfboard in her late 40s.
However, just to set expectations, you may want to give up your late-blooming dream of becoming a pro surfer but if you’re willing to hang 10 just for fun, here are five tips:
Are You in Good Shape?
This is the first thing that you have to consider. With the physical demands of the sport, you have to make sure that your body can handle it. This actually applies to beginners of all levels, but it’s more important if you’re in your 40s.
It’s not that big of a deal if you’re just looking to try a lesson or two. But if you want to take it up as a serious hobby, you need to get clearance from your doctor. Let the doctor know that you’re planning to take up surfing so he can advise accordingly. While surfing can help you get in shape as it will burn 200 to 400 calories an hour, it’s a good idea to complement that with a fitness routine to lose that spare tire around your waist. After all, you wouldn’t want other surfers to refer to you as a Grey Belly.
The challenge in surfing is not really your age, it’s your weight. If you’re overweight, the mere act of getting to the standing position may prove to be an insurmountable challenge. Think of it as doing push-ups, but on a moving platform.
Here’s some good news. Surfing is a low impact sport compared to sports like running and basketball. This means that it’s easier on the joints
Ignore what Other People will be Saying
You’ll get a lot of haters. Unfortunately, some surfers feel that you shouldn’t crowd their spot simply because you didn’t start young like they did. They’ll call you names. They’ll laugh at you as you join surf lessons with 8 to 10 year olds.
Should you care? Nope. Just because you didn’t start surfing as a baby doesn’t give you less of a right to surf. They should be envious of you because even at an advanced age, you know what you want and you’re getting it.
You may think that lessons are just for kids, but you’ll be surprised to know that there are also a lot of adults signing up for lessons. They’re just like you. Forget the fact that you’re taking the lessons with young ‘uns.
Get the Right Gear
Should you buy a surfboard before getting your first lesson? Not so fast. You may want to consider getting a rental first. This is because you don’t really know if it’s something that you’d want to pursue later on.
Rent a surfboard first and use that to attend a couple of lessons. If you feel that it’s not for you, then it’s no big deal. At least you’ve tried. If you feel that it’s something that you can do as a hobby, then that’s when you can invest on a surfboard.
As a general rule for a beginner surfboard, get the biggest foam board that you can carry. Bigger is better if you’re a beginner. Get at least an 8 foot board, although something over 9’6” is ideal.
You may also need a wetsuit if you plan on surfing on cold water. If not, then board shorts will do.
That’s basically it – a big foam board and a wetsuit or board shorts. You can also get a surfboard leash and some surf wax.
Make it a Family Thing
One of the best things about surfing is it’s for the whole family. It’s a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone – young or old, man or woman. So attend surf lessons as a family. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your weekend surfing trips together.
As you can see, learning to surf at 40 is possible. It’s like learning how to ride a bike, you just have to get started.
Jay Recinto works for Warm Winds Surf Shop by the Narragansett Beach in Rhode Island. At 35 years old, he’s no spring chicken, but he craves the challenge of outperforming guys half his age. His success rate is rather low, but can’t fault a dude for trying.
Disclaimer (for the litigious-minded)
While surfing is generally a safe sport, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that proper measures are in place for your safety. The writer and the site’s owner cannot be held responsible for any injuries that you may incur if you do decide to try surfing with the help of these tips. You and you alone are responsible for whatever the outcome is of your decision to try surfing.