Riding the Wave

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Surfset provides a workout without the wipeout.

Section by Linda Domingo


Barbara Fox (right), fitness supervisor at Spa Montage Laguna Beach, leads some surfing moves in Surfset class.
Barbara Fox (right), fitness supervisor at Spa Montage Laguna Beach, leads some surfing moves in Surfset class.


Paddling out on rolling waters and balancing on unpredictable waves results in the toned, slim surfer’s body that beachgoers covet—but what if you take away the surf?

It’s a question that Surfset founder and CEO Mike Hartwick answered with a design he took to ABC’s “Shark Tank” TV show. Essentially a surfboard that’s mounted on an adjustable platform, Surfset allows athletes to reap the benefits of surfing—burning calories, increasing strength, improving balance—in the comfort of their own homes or inside a gym. One of the show’s investor “sharks,” Mark Cuban, invested in the idea, resulting in boards being sold online and classes being taught across the world, including at Spa Montage Laguna Beach.

Barbara Fox, fitness supervisor at Spa Montage Laguna Beach, spoke to Laguna Beach Magazine about how Surfset allows you to hang 10 without stepping foot in the ocean.
Laguna Beach Magazine: Surfset isn’t meant to teach people how to surf, so how can it help people with surfing?

Barbara Fox: I did have a surf instructor from San Diego [take] the class … She actually said that some of the techniques that we were teaching were the same techniques that she uses for surfing. I wouldn’t say this will teach you how to surf [since] the dynamic of the water is so different. But … it’s going to help you build the muscles that you use to surf.
LBM: What muscles do you focus on in Surfset classes?

BF: You’re working your shoulder girdle, your back, all of your abs, your whole powerhouse. … You can change the exercises to work different body parts. We do a lot of squats; we can do lunges, plies and surf-inspired moves … [for] glutes and hamstrings. And then you can do pushups … [and] work that upper body strength. No matter what, you’re working your core and all your stabilizers.
LBM: Can you walk us through a session?

BF: We start slow to get people used to the board. We start on all fours, then start by trying to lift up one arm and one leg. … We start going into the plank position, then start standing up.

We try to add arms. … So we pretend we’re rowing. … Then, you start adding squats and teach people how to get down and up. We do a series of abdominal work, lying on the board, doing crunches and reverse curls. It’s challenging [because] it’s wobbly. We do some surf-inspired moves when they’re starting to feel comfortable, and we play surf music to make it fun.
LBM: Are there different levels of classes?

BF: We have ways of making it work so that all levels can take the class at the same time. … It’s about giving alternatives. I’ve had to hold someone’s hand the whole class, and that’s fine. … Even if someone’s really fit, most people are new to this.

There are three inflatable balls [underneath the board] that are kind of flat on top. The amount that they’re inflated will affect your balance. On the side, there are two [bungee cords]. If you take them off, it will change the level [of difficulty]. So you can take one off or two off; by the time you take two off, you’re really advanced. We’ve only had two people take them off, and I think one of them was a Cirque [du Soleil] dancer.


All Aboard

Achieve a surfer’s body with the help of these products.

Aside from the board itself, there isn’t much you need to get started with Surfset. Try the following items to help you shape up like a wave master.




Push play on the “THE BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS” while you’re working out to get the full surf experience, $7.99, or order any other Beach Boys title, at Sound Spectrum. (949-494-5959; soundspectrumlaguna.com)

Lululemon Wunder Under Crop II

Ladies should wear tapered leggings or shorts to avoid tripping over excess fabric; lululemon athletica’s WUNDER UNDER CROP II LEGGINGS provide a perfect fit, $72, at Spa Montage Laguna Beach. (949-715-6010; montagehotels.com/lagunabeach)

Beyond Yoga SP8043_Tropical-Berry_Flat

Sport the BEYOND YOGA INTERLOOP BRA for support while allowing a full range of motion, $69, at YogaWorks. (949-415-0955; yogaworks.com)


Men can wear the Fragile Ocean Pelican Hybrid BOARd SHORTS to allow for maximum movement, $48, at Hobie Surf Shop. (949-497-3304; hobiesurfshop.com)



The RIPSURFER X helps athletes work on balance and strength, and can be used in a home studio or gym, $550, at surfsetfitness.com.


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