I was up extra early last Sunday even if I went out the night before. I’m blaming it on excitement – if you have the chance to get better at something you love doing, who would not be ecstatic? And definitely my Skwala board, Wacks a.k.a. “Cookie”, staring at me in my room helped in the insomnia attack, as I hear it telling me “You HAVE to get better”. I do work well under pressure, though I did not expect it from an inanimate object.
I got out of bed after 2 hours of staring into space trying to calm my nerves down about the day ahead, and got ready for my first day of Surfcuit training with the Philippine Surfing Academy. I knew I had to leave ASAP because I never fail in getting lost anywhere. And as expected, I missed Club Manila East Taytay even with a GPS and map, already heading towards Angono. Good thing I stopped and asked, I would have paid a SURPRISE visit to my grandparents if I didn’t. :)
As Ms. U-turn, I found my way to the resort just on time – I’d like to think of it that way since they didn’t start yet… or they were really nice enough to wait for me. Hehe Thank you PSA!
First thing’s first – the Warm Up. What’s the best way to stretch my Saturday Mojito-filled muscles and brain? Yoga! I am in love with it! The 30-minute practice outside was not only fun and relaxing, but hit all those spots you’d need for surfing: Planks for your abs, Chaturanggas for your paddling arms and balance poses to perfect your stance on the board. Tip: Bring your water bottle, and a towel if you sweat a lot. I left mine in my bag, thinking it will only be more than half the time I usually practice. Doing sun salutations literally under the sun will make you sweat, and balancing with a drop inching towards your eye makes it even more difficult.
Briefing on parts of the board, safety, paddling tips, and a bit of surf etiquette came next. I’ve listened many times about these from past lessons in San Juan, La Union and Baler – awesome spots to learn the sport. I thought I would be bored but to my surprise, I wasn’t at all. Maybe I was just distracted before with everything happening at the beach or maybe knowing I only had 1 hour to surf brings down my attention to zero. I mean I’d think “Yeah, yeah I know that already so tara na!!!”, instead of actually listening. Knowing the session is in total 4 hours, and we will not run out of waves helped my forever wandering eyes and ears to focus.
Finally, water playtime… if you put it that way. We practiced our paddling and riding the waves, with our coaches helping us fix our form. I paddled… and paddled… and $#%^&* paddled. Chest high, paddle long and deep, point toes, stay center! Quite a lot to absorb but it really helped having our PSA coaches around the pool reminding us of the right way to do it. Coach Paolo lied, he said we’ll paddle straight for 2 hours. It felt like forever – and I LOVED IT. :) I knew I was going to be sore the following day but it didn’t matter. What mattered is getting the arm, shoulder and back strength to have more power for catching waves. He did say that surfing is 90% paddling and 10% actually riding a wave, and I do need to work on that big piece of the pie.
One of my favorites was having to save my life from the concrete wall on my left. Being a goofy footer, it’s way easier for me to head towards that side than the other. Okay fine, I can just jump off the board whenever I go closer to the wall. Being my tiny self though, I prefer stepping off at the shallower part of the pool. So that would mean I have to dodge that wall, boards and other people until I reach the midget-friendly side, to be “vertically” comfortable in the water. I want to even thank Larry, one of the instructors who was helping the students by pushing the boards. At the start I’d tell him my stance, asking him to NOT push me towards the left – for chances are I will just ram into it. Yes, VERY chicken of me. After a couple of tries though, he’d intentionally direct the board there, telling me first of course, so I would already start maneuvering the board to the other side. I was able to, and I’m looking forward to having more control of my board and my body with more practice.
Did we have time to rest? Of course we did! Every 15 to 20 minutes the waves subside giving us a calm playground to hang out, chat and relax in – NOT! During these “breaks” we still practiced paddling drills, learning how to turn our boards, and how to balance on them. What else? We were doing push ups on our boards while in the water! I should’ve read the fine print… I think I signed up for military training and not surfing. :) Don’t be scared though, if you do need to take a breather you can paddle out the pool and compose yourself, or run away… whichever you prefer. I’m just a really hyper camper that I didn’t get out of the water until the very end… which cost me an order of Fillet O’ Fish, large fries, juice and hot fudge sundae on my way home (I rarely eat fast food!). I was just HUNGRY and Mcdonald’s was the most convenient place I saw while driving. Another tip: Eat a bit more than what you usually have for breakfast. I only had salad and an apple that morning, and I’m still surprised I was able to walk out of the resort after 4 hours of nonstop burning!
To summarize Day 1: INTENSE(intensive nga diba?!) and very informative for beginners like me. :) More experienced surfers might say you won’t get stoked in a wave pool and they are right. I remember what Coach Paolo said this at the very start. It’s a definitely different experience riding in the ocean compared to anything artificial. The purpose of the training is to equip oneself when you’re doing the “real” thing. For city people like me, we don’t have the benefit of living near the sea to surf (though that is my retirement plan). This is practice. This is training. This is working on getting better to REALLY enjoy those long trips to surf spots. Who wants to travel for hours, be welcomed by great swells and just get washing-machined every time you head out? Not me. And I know that any surfer or surfing enthusiast doesn’t either.
Special thanks to Earl of PSA for taking photos while the other coaches were kicking our butts!
Want to learn more about PSA or interested to join the Surfcuit Intensive Training Program? Check out the links below:
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