2013-09-19 / Wellness

Lose Weight with Surf Moves Yoga Style

By Jonathan Clancy


Instructor Sabrina Kay (center) guides a class through an intense Surfset Session. (Photo by Jonathan Clancy) Instructor Sabrina Kay (center) guides a class through an intense Surfset Session. (Photo by Jonathan Clancy) If you’re looking for a fun way to stay in surf shape, Surfset Fitness classes may help you catch a break, even when the waves go flat.

This past June, native Aquidneck Islander Chris Barker partnered up with his wife Sara, owner of East Bay Ballroom, to open up Floor- Time Studios. Their new dance and lifestyle fitness hotspot offers a variety of ways to reach your fitness goals, including Surfset Fitness, Zumba, and indoor stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga classes. Of course, they offer all the same top-notch dance instruction that East Bay Ballroom built its reputation on. “It’s the place where dance, fitness, and fun collide,” Barker said.

Surfset Fitness was invented by surfer Mike Hartwick as a means to stay in shape while he was away from the beach. He knew it wouldn’t feel as good as catching a real wave, but the routines he created mimicked the workout that he got while surfing and kept him in peak physical condition. The Rip- SURFER X is a surf-inspired trainer made up of a mock surfboard attached by a series of resistance bands to three inflated discs within a rectangular base. The wobbly system challenges one’s balance much like a surfboard on water. The workouts integrate balance, core strength, cardio, flexibility, agility, and power, all while torching unwanted body fat in high intensity intervals. His idea was featured on the popular ABC-TV show, “Shark Tank.” Billionaire investor Mark Cuban even picked up a 30 percent share in the company.

The Barkers began their Surfset certification in March with intensive training classes held at Surfset Headquarters in New Hampshire. Chris was motivated to get himself back in shape after spending six years behind a desk as a writer for a finance website, “The Motley Fool.” He has already lost 20 pounds since he started training on the Surfset systems. “You really sweat it off during the classes, but the most important part is that it’s fun,” he said.

All Surfset classes are 45 minutes long. The exercises performed throughout the routines, including wave runners, shark kicks, duck dives, and pop-ups, are all things that can be done on steady ground. But the added challenge of balancing on the board offers a truer surf sensation and goes beyond a standard workout. “Surfset is incredibly strong and efficient for the core, and you will feel it working non-stop, but it hits everywhere,” Barker said. “People often overlook the ancillary muscles in the hands, wrists, and ankles.”

There are four types of Surfset classes that offer varying levels of intensity. The slow pace of the Balance class is great for beginners. Those looking to increase strength may be interested in the Build class, which makes use of resistance bands and light weights. Reports of torching off 800 to 900 calories a session have come out of the cardio intensive Burn class. Those looking for a bit of everything may enjoy the Blend class, which fuses aspects of all three classes into one extreme session.

One of the most unique classes offered at FloorTime Studios is the indoor SUP yoga. Jamestown resident and yoga instructor Annette Burke took on the challenge of designing a yoga program specifically for the indoor surf training equipment. The class blends aspects of Hatha and Viniyoga, with the added challenge of an unstable surface. Burke also instructs a Yoga to The Beatles class on Mondays. “We view yoga as an integral part of any truly comprehensive approach to fitness of mind and body,” Barker said, “but the enjoyment factor when you are on the board is tenfold. To find your center while you’re in that pose on the board is just so much fun.”

Surfset will help improve your physical balance, but it could also help to set the equilibrium of your everyday life. Barker said that there is a real sense of community in the classes. The new activity keeps all participants on their toes and encourages everyone to take it a step further. “I think there is a social aspect that is missing in many people’s lives, especially in this era of social networking,” said Barker. “People are becoming less social in a real sense, and I think they appreciate the human connections that are made in a class setting.”

The Barkers also expanded their dance horizons by adding two new dance instructors, dance formation teams, and dance workshops, including the upcoming Argentine tango workshop Sept. 29, and the hoop dance workshop on Oct. 6. FloorTime Studios offers dance classes six days a week, including ballroom, Latin, country, and swing dancing.

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