In search of a unique workout, the Toronto Fitchick team headed to Surfset Toronto where we tried the Beginner Blend class and lived to tell the tale! The cheerful, beachy studio offers one the city’s most unusual fitness experiences: workout classes that mimic the muscle control and stability of surfing … and that are taught on actual surfboards!
The beginner blend was the right choice for us, giving us a taste of each of the class styles with a focus on introductory moves. Each new movement was broken down step-by-step making it easy to follow along.
Surfset offers a variety of classes:
Surf Circuit: This butt-kicking mix of HIIT intervals on and off the board, incorporating kettlebells, ropes and other equipment, will bring out your strong surfer bod!
Blend: Interval training at it’s finest, we bring in elements of all of our signature classes to build, tone, and sculpt.
Balance: Core strength, flexibility, stability, dynamic balance, body control. This class is amazing if you have injuries or if you want a less fast-paced vibe while still getting an intense workout. This class will be challenging, but the easier pace makes it a lot easier to keep up, making it a great choice for your first visit!
Burn: Torch fat & tone your core in high-intensity intervals.
and Build: Get shredded with targeted bodyweight & resistance circuit training.
Thoughts Going In:
Sofia: I had my doubts at first.. Yoga poses are hard enough for me on flat ground. Would I learn to balance on a tottering surf-board or end up flat on my face?
Andrea: I’ve never done a water sport in my life. I was sure that I’d embarrass myself but the class looked so fun and approachable that I was really looking forward to it!
Sofia: The online class sign-up system is user-friendly and the website informative. The studio space is bright and gets a lot of good natural light. The receptionist was warm and welcoming; I felt reassured it was going to be a fun class. The unisex change-room was well-maintained and spacious enough for the small class sizes.
Andrea: While small in size, the boutique studio goes big on its theme, and I loved the friendly coastal vibe and airy, colourful interior. Staff were wonderful and I felt relaxed as soon as I stepped in thanks to the laid-back vibe. We even wore sombreros for our membership ID photos! It was simple to purchase a First-Time Drop-In pass for $20 ahead of time. I noted that the studio has a variety of rate and membership options, from $25 drop-in classes to more economical monthly passes.
Sofia: Our instructor Andrzej was friendly and upbeat. I appreciated that he broke each movement down to the very basics so you could ease in slowly. He also showed the progression of each movement, so as you became more comfortable you could try the slightly more advanced version. The boards themselves can also be adjusted from beginner to advanced.
I didn’t realize my board was accidentally set to intermediate so I felt very nervous at first. With the board shaking beneath me I was worried I would fall to one side or the other. Luckily, Andrea noticed and helped me adjust it 5 mins into the class and then it was slightly smoother sailing.
Standing up on the board was nerve-racking and when I first attempted to do a squat, the board was shaking so much, it was getting to be a little scary. So when we were encouraged to try doing a box-jump onto the board I was certain it wouldn’t go well.
It reminded me of when I was learning to swim and the instructor wanted us to dive into the pool. Seven year old me was convinced he was crazy. There’s no way I’m doing that I thought, and then he lifted me up and tossed me in head first. I managed to put my arms out before I hit the water and it didn’t hurt a bit. Within seconds I was at the surface again, but this time feeling confident and wanting to dive in on my own.
So here was 30 year old me facing this unstable surf-board, being encouraged to jump up onto it and thinking what did I get myself into..
I took the plunge, and just like when I was seven, it went surprisingly well! I stuck the landing and couldn’t wait to try it again. After that box-jump I had conquered my fears and the rest of the class was a lot less intimidating. Turns out I had been overly apprehensive trying to place my feet in just the right spots.
I learned to trust my body to rise up to the challenge and find its balance!
Andrea: The surfboards are rigged on three stability balls to train your muscle memory and balance, and to mimic the instability of waves. The boards react with your body and demand great control, core strength and commitment! I quickly realized that exhaling and relaxing helped my board to stop shaking, and my nerves to calm. After that it was pure fun! We even mastered dynamic movements like snapping up from a burpee, jumping on and off the boards, and practicing some balancing footwork as if we were riding a barrel wave.
The time flew by. I thought the class was really well-paced and appreciated that Andrzej tailored his instruction to how we were faring on the boards! The “blend” format was cool because there’s something for everyone and you can’t possibly get tired of the class. We moved from board basics and stability to core work to cardio intervals.
Sofia: We did some HIIT elements in the class like jumping over the board and step-ups onto the board. There were core segments like dead-bugs and mountain-climbers which are a lot more challenging on the surf-board! But the most enjoyable portions were when we were pretending we were real surfers and would paddle out and try to quickly get up on our boards once we saw the right wave.
Who would I recommend this class for? Are you someone who likes to shake up your workout routine? Do you enjoy yoga, pilates or boot-camp style classes? Are you interested in surfing? Looking to improve your balance while still working up a sweat? Then this could be the class for you!
How can you prepare for this class? Work on strengthening your core by trying out our 12 Minute Abs workout. Practice some yoga poses that help improve your balance like Tree or Lord of the Dance. And finally, watch your favourite surfing movie to help get you in the surfing mind-set and inspire you to try some sweet poses on your board!
Sofia: If, like me, you’ve ever been interested in trying surfing, I highly recommend this class. The way the surf-board moves beneath you as you’re trying to find your balance really makes you feel like you’re on water. If you’ve seen Soul Surfer don’t worry, there are only stuffed sharks at this studio!
Andrea: If, like me, you are neither a surfer nor yogi, the Beginner Blend class is a safe place to start and a great combination workout that focuses on balance and strength. It also focuses on getting participants comfortable on the board – which I never thought I’d be! I’d return to this class in a heartbeat and I had a blast!
Have any questions about our experience at Surfset?
Any recommendations for fitness classes we should try in Toronto?
We would love to hear from you in the comments!