Are you looking for your next midlife challenge? Maybe surfing could be a good one. Sure, you might not be as agile or flexible as a teen, but age shouldn’t stop you from getting in the ocean and enjoying all of the wonderful benefits that surfing has to offer, especially in the summertime.
All you need is a good wetsuit, a longboard, a leash, and an experienced surf instructor. However, take into account that learning to surf requires also hard work and dedication. You don’t need to be a super fit person when first starting out. Over time you will improve your physical capabilities as well as your mental health but you have to be patient and tenacious. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off.
Some people imagine surfing to be this calm, relaxing session sitting on your board in the sun as the perfect wave rolls straight to you – says Laura M., 48, from London, who has been practising surf since she was 42 -. In reality, it’s more often like paddle, get smashed, duck dive, turtle roll and then do it all again.
The good thing about surfing? It will help you increase your flexibility, core and leg strength, as well as improve your coordination and concentration. You’ll be physically active (the cardiovascular system will thank you) and your mind will also get a workout as you try to navigate the waves that seem determined to knock you over. A sense of belonging, empowerment and freedom seem to be the things that prompt ladies over 40 to look into learning to surf, as well as the idea of pushing themselves beyond their limits.
Learning to surf at age 45, I gained more than I expected – says Maria S., from Windsor-. Beyond the physical joy of surfing, it has taught me how to challenge myself, push my limits and not be afraid to fail.
Yes, surfing will also prove to yourself that you can achieve certain goals – no matter your age – that at one point, may have seemed unattainable. It sounds fantastic, isn’t it? Of course, there are going to be times during your initial learning phase when you might find yourself frustrated and not enjoying yourself as much as you thought you would. But if you commit yourself to learning how to surf and are able to overcome those mental barriers that cause many others to give up, the rewards are truly remarkable.
Surfing raises your confidence, and boosts your physical and mental well-being- – says Andrea W., 51, from Manchester-. It is the challenge, the contact with the natural world and that boost you feel when you manage to get on that little wave even if it’s only for a short while that makes me happy.
How To Start Riding The Waves: Join a Surf-Club
Surfing is actually 95% paddling. Before you consider it, you should be a good swimmer and join a surf club. Don’t improvise! Many beaches have surf schools where you can learn the proper techniques. Professional surfers will encourage you, teaching you not only how to find your balance but also the rhythm of the waves and the way they break, including how to choose the right surfboard.
With the aim of encouraging women of all ages to start surfing, particularly women in their forties who thought it might be too late, artist Wilma Johnson, who started surfing at 41 and shared her story in a book, “Surf Mama- One Woman’s Search For Love, Happiness And The Perfect Wave”, founded Mama Surf Club.
I just wanted women to know that once you hit 40, you don’t have to lead a safe, predictable life – she says-. Stepping out of your comfort zone might be scary, but taking the plunge is well worth the risk. Surfing is about doing something you think is out of your reach and yet not letting people impose limits on you, whether it’s taking a wave or something completely different.
The club played a part in changing attitudes towards women’s surfing on the Basque coast, with other Mamas groups starting up from Hendaye to Hossegor.
Amongst other surf retreats dedicated to ladies’ empowerment also Chica Brava Fit, Fierce & 40, a special camp founded by Ashley Blaylock and dedicated to both beginners and experienced adult surfers.
The surfing really wasn’t the priority for me – says Rachel Wiley attending a Chica Brava surf camp-. I mean, I am always down to learn new things, but as a native Seattleite, I didn’t really see myself becoming a surfer. The confidence knowledge and support of instructors made the week possible. On the first day we were taking a break I said ‘This is so hard!’ and she said, ‘Yes, but life is hard. And you just keep going.’ I know that seems like an incredibly simple concept, but for some reason, it really resonated at that moment. I realized that the week was going to be more of a battle of conquering fear and meeting challenges than getting past physical limitations. I thought about how many times I had given my own children this advice, and how this would be such a good lesson for them to learn through my example.
Of course, to feel the transformative impact of surfing you don’t have to wait for the right time or circumstances. If you feel it’s the right thing to do it, just do it. Helen Ringler Perez joined Pura Vida Adventures at the age of 50 with zero surfing experience. She has let nothing hold her back in the pursuit of her surfing dreams.
My experience has been that the ocean gives you what you need and not necessarily what you want – she said-. The first time I received encouragement, then confidence, humility, and finally acceptance. But every single time I have met amazing people and had so much fun. The warmth and enthusiasm are contagious and the first time I stood on the board was amazing. Then getting to the point where I could get on the wave myself was liberating. It’s sort of like riding a bike for the first time where timing and balance come together and you say to yourself, I’ve got this and bam, you crash your bike. But it’s a feeling of freedom, if for only a brief moment. My only regret is that I did not do this earlier.
Something non-surfers will never understand is that once you experience the feeling of riding a wave, you want it to last forever.