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Monday, November 23, 2015

The New Orleans Exercist visits City Surf

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge "Paddling out" at New Orleans' new indoor surf fitness studio. - COURTESY CITY SURF
  • "Paddling out" at New Orleans' new indoor surf fitness studio.

The only thing I know how to surf is the Internet, so I feel somewhat intimidated when I arrive at City Surf (5924 Magazine St., 954-609-5725; The front door reads #NOBADDAYS, but the rainy, chilly weather disagrees. I’m here to try my first surf fitness class at New Orleans’ newest boutique workout studio, which opened last Thursday (Nov. 17).

Instructor Matt Peel leads myself and five other young women through the signature City Surf workout: surf-inspired moves performed in stocking feet on top of a $550 stationary surfboard. (Other classes emphasize cardio, strength training, yoga and more.) Each board is strapped to a trio of squishy fitness balls and topped with a thick, rubbery black mat. Fittingly, the boards are a product of ABC’s Shark Tank.

I pick a board and gingerly place a foot on top. If you think balancing on one BOSU ball is tricky, try three. Upside down.

Matt starts with a warm-up to acclimate our balance, then basic surfing moves like the pop up (moving from lying to standing on the board) and the duck dive (which, to the non-surfer, feels similar to a chaturanga). Unlike in the ocean, you can put one foot on the floor when you lose balance — which I do.

“Your board seems extra-wobbly,” Matt says. “Do you want to switch?”

My ego thinks I’m doing fine, so I tell him I’ll stick with it. I feel good until we reach the reverse paddle, a fast-paced move akin to a Superman. The rapid up-and-down combined with the all-over wobble is nauseating. Am I really seasick at 10 inches above the floor? Thankfully, the feeling passes once I stand up.

After our introduction to surfing, Matt leads a series of exercises for cardio, abs, lower body and upper body. The surfboard becomes a bench for tricep dips and a wobble board for lunges and squats, performed HIIT-style in 30-second increments. We hook resistance bands into loops on the rails of the board for bicep curls and shoulder presses — not nearly as difficult as with a heavy weight, but with the added challenge of stability.

By the end of an hour, I feel far more confident on my extra-wiggly board. Reverse paddles still make me queasy and the idea of real waves still intimidates me, but surfing doesn’t feel so foreign. Instead, it feels like a synthesis of activities I’m familiar with: the balance of yoga, the strength of weightlifting and the foot placement and coordination of longboarding.

Matt wraps up class with a surf simulation: running out to the water, jumping atop the board, ducking through waves, standing up and cruising to shore. Yes, it feels silly to “grab air” while pretending to surf indoors in front of strangers. No, I don’t care.

City Surf classes cost $22 a la carte, and the studio offers the perks of boutique fitness, including cold towels, complimentary body products in the showers and branded shirts and protein drinks at the front desk. It lacks a filtered water dispenser, so if you’re choosy about what you put in your reusable bottle you’ll want to fill up at home. Pick a board that offers a clear view of the mirror: the initial awkwardness of staring at yourself is worth the aid to your balance.

OUR TAKE: Indoor surfing isn’t cheap, but the feel-good, full-body workout is a great pick-me-up when you can’t get to the beach.

City Surf is located at 5924 Magazine Street. For Small Business Saturday, the studio is offering 20% off multi-class packs Nov. 28-30.

More fitness news and events this week:

- Maison Dupuy Hotel (1001 Toulouse St., 504-586-8000; hosts Yogalates in the Yard tonight (Nov. 23) and next Monday (Nov. 30) at 6:30 p.m. A $20 ticket ($15 in advance) gets you a combination yoga-Pilates class and a free cocktail.

- Wobble before you gobble at NOTC’s 108th (!) annual Turkey Day Race on Thursday (Nov. 26) at City Park’s Tad Gormley Stadium (5400 Stadium Drive). Late registration is $30. The race benefits Spinal Bifida of Greater New Orleans.

- Another way to give back: the Thanksgiving Benefit Class at Swan River Yoga (2940 Canal St., 504-301-3134; supports Right to Play's work with Syrian refugee children. The suggested donation is $15.

- Recover from Thanksgiving overload and then load right up again with Pints & Planks at Gattuso’s Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant (435 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna, 504-368-1114; on Saturday (Nov. 28). There’s free yoga on the neutral ground at 4:30 p.m., followed by happy hour until 7 p.m.

- Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to practice mindfulness and gratitude. Longue Vue House & Gardens hosts Morning Meditation at 10 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 29). The suggested donation is $10.

- Make some friends for a bike ride at the #Awayteam City Cruise, starting at the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins Diboll Circle) at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 29).

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