Be the Best Surfer You Can Be in 2008

Putting this article together was a tough one. We wanted to write an original, helpful article, but wanted to limit our list to five things surfers can do to get the most out of their surfing life.

We deliberated. We debated. We brainstormed. We went surfing. In the end, we came up with a solid, doable list. Knock all these things out in 2008 and we guarantee you will be a better surfer.

1. Train for Surfing.

The votes are in: Training for surfing improves your performance in the water and will prolong your surfing life. Just ask new world champions Mick Fanning or Steph Gilmore how fitness played a part in their winning the world championships. Both credit training-specifically, core training-to their success in the water. Of course, our favorite training is surf-specific training. Not surprisingly, we recommend you do our DVD two or three times per week, especially during flat spells or inclement weather. Otherwise, get in some good swim workouts or go carve some pavement on a skateboard. Doing an activity or workout that looks and feels like surfing will give you the best results when you get out there on the next good swell. (As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)

2. Get Involved.

As surfers, we should all be concerned about our natural environment. Our waves are constantly under attack, and every surfer should think about helping protect our breaks. World-famous surf break Trestles in Southern California is currently at risk: A proposed toll road is slated to plow through an important watershed, which could ruin the surf at Trestles. On Oahu, a massive hotel development at Turtle Bay could threaten the environment and the surf on the magical North Shore. Only by getting involved can we hope to keep our surf clean and our natural environments natural.

Luckily, there are many great organizations fighting day in and day out for our waves and our environment. Our perennial favorite is the Surfrider Foundation. The granddaddy of the green surf movement, Surfrider has chapters worldwide, so it shouldn't be hard to find a local chapter to join. Our other favorite is the Defend Oahu Coalition, the main group opposing the massive expansion at Turtle Bay on the North Shore. Check them out and get involved!

3. Use Sunblock.

We've said it before; we'll say it again: Use sunblock. And not just when you are surfing, but every day! As a surfer or outdoor enthusiast, you are often exposed to the sun's harmful rays. Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. To help mitigate these effects of the sun, be sure to block up. Also, try to avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its most potent-between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

When picking a sunscreen, choose one with maximum protection against both UVA and UVB rays-preferably one labeled very water resistant or waterproof, with an SPF of at least 30. Consumer Reports recommends Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 45 and No-Ad Sunblock Lotion Maximum SPF 45, a Consumer Reports Best Buy. Also on their list-and one of our favorites-is Blue Lizard. And be sure to use enough sunblock. Slather that stuff on and reapply every two hours and after swimming or substantial sweating. If you're out all day, find some shade or add protective clothing, including a hat.

4. Vote with Your Wallet.

In addition to getting involved with an environmental group or participating in a beach cleanup, vote with your wallet. Businesses are becoming more tuned into environmental stewardship and are building products with sustainable resources. If you buy surf products, why not buy durable and sustainable? Patagonia has a new eco-wetsuit and produces stronger, greener products, including Fletcher Chouinard Designs. Both Lineup Magazine and The Surfer's Path print their magazines on recycled paper. Look for products with the 1% For the Planet logo, which means the manufacturer donates at least 1% of revenue to environmental causes. When making purchase decisions, support companies that support the environment.

5. Lighten up the lineup.

As surfers, we are extremely blessed and lucky to enjoy the sport of surfing. But ever notice that on even the nicest days, the lineup can be an uptight place? Break the mold and go out of your way to spread aloha. Say hello as you paddle out. Give a wave to your fellow surfer, and throw a big SHAKKA when he catches it. We are all privileged to paddle out. Lighten up and spread the stoke... it'll come back to you!

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.