Fri, 24 April 2020

From paddling in pools with rubber bungies to virtual yoga and pilates sessions to gruelling gym circuits in the garden, South African surfers tell Spike how they're keeping sharp.


AUSSIE TRAINING: JBay local Cyle Myers tries to ignore the surf by working out. Photo Go Social

Cyle Myers, freelance writer (JBay)

My wife and I are living in JBay and it has been firing pretty much since they called the lockdown. Nobody out. Haha. We've been using Kayla Itsine's app (Australian personal trainer). It's pretty straightforward stuff - burpies, sit ups, lunges - that sort of stuff. It's like a 30-40 minute workout but it nails you. Also a bit of a change in diets. Low carb so I don't get a belly!

FabianCampagnolo AlanvanGysen

KEEPING SAFE: Fabian Compagnolo works on breath-hold to deal with waves like this. Photo AVG

fabian-campagnolo-sebastian-stainesFabian Compagnolo, Big Wave Surfer (CT)

When I wake up, I do the Wim Hof breathing method. It's insane! I have been focusing on breath-holds with empty lungs, so running laps in the pool or sitting at the bottom of the pool and focusing on mentally dropping my heart beat (also quite a trip haha). It's insane how starting your day with a few conscious breaths can change your mood and outlook on how you want to approach the day. I suffered a few gnarly concussions during my time overseas so I've also been building up my core and neck muscles to prepare for the beatings winter will bring.

Photo right: Sebastian Staines


STOKED TO SURF: Michelle Smith is not just stoked, but frothing to get back in the water.

Michelle Smith, Founder Stoked School of Surf

Howzit, great to hear from you! Funny you're writing about this. I have just shot a small Instagram story for my surf school account, which includes surf exercise challenges. David (her husband David Smith) has actually hooked up a bungy chord system in the pool and we have been paddling a board in the pool. We have also been doing live streamed pilates 3-4 times a week. And then of course running after the new addiiton to the family ... baby Joshua! That's enough work to keep the heart rate up ?? Hope you doing well during this time too.

CraigJohnson AlanvanGysen

ALL SMILES: Especially when Craig Johnson can get back out at his favourite surf spot. Photo AVG

Craig Johnson, Surf coach entrepreneur (Cape Town)

I haven’t been doing much training and I am definitely not fit at the moment. I did start that 25 day 25 pushups challenge, and I have also started training with the Nike app because it has been free during lockdown.


COVID KETTLES: Melissa Volker catches up on gym work in a bid to stay sharp. Photo Supplied

melissa-a.-volker-2Melissa Volker, Author (False Bay)

Nursing a freshly rehabilitated shoulder re-injured in a quest for lockdown fitness on Day 2 (an Instagram workout), Melissa decided that if Bethany can paddle Jaws with one arm, she can exercise in lockdown with one shoulder? She does 10 minute flexibility programmes on Youtube almost daily. She runs a 110m loop in her garden a few times a week up to almost 5km. She enjoys being in the fresh air and sunshine, plus the dog loves it. She is a member of the Wahine SUP surfing group with Tarryn King, who trains them over Zoom twice a week. She's not a much of a cross-fit gym person, but doesn't "want to be the slouch who can't paddle out when we finally can" go surfing, so she practices cross stepping on a surfboard balancing on a soft air mattress (a surfing simulator made by husband Rick). He is a member of CrossFit False Bay and "they've been amazing, sharing out all their equipment among members". She has access to their mobility and Pilates classes twice a week. Her daughter's ballet teacher invited moms to join the Ballet Body Conditioning Zoom class twice a week. She found them impossibly hard and left the group!

"I also tried a paddle specific Stretch class on Power Yoga with Coach Seychelle on Facebook Live. My shoulder enjoyed that. I have a full programme to choose from, some days there's so much going on on I need a rest. I'm super grateful for our garden and the mild weather and the access to the internet. I reckon though if only I was more disciplined on the chocolate/ fruitcake/ rusk front I might come out of lock down in better shape than I went in."


THE REAL THING: Luckily for Matt McGillivray, Australia allows surfing. Photo Zak Noyle/Red Bull 

MattMcGillivrayMatt McGillivray, WSL CT surfer (Gold Coast)

WSL rookie Matthew McGillivray is 'stuck' on the Gold Coast after the Covid-19 lockdown kicked in while preparing for the first event of the Championship Tour. When he heard about the SA surfing ban, he stayed on to keep sharp in case the Tour gets back on track. "I have family over here, so they're looking after me and now I'm just waiting to see what happens, and when travel will start back up again."

He lives near Surfers Paradise, and manages to train and surf: "I've been going down to south Stradbroke mostly but they've shut the roads to the Spit where you paddle from, so it requires a skate and 2km warm-up to get there."


BEING FRANK: Frank Solomon has been keeping fit via Zoom with his trainer. Photo Supplied

Frank Solomon, big wave surfer (Somewhere)

I'm good. Sentinel Ocean Alliance (Frank's Hout Bay-based NGO) OA has been helping to feed people so i have been busy at least. My trainer Mike Watson, who works with all the Red Bull athletes here in South Africa, has been training me on Zoom three times a week, which has helped me stay sane. :) I also try and do at least 10,000 steps a day so instead of driving to the shops I walk. I also have been doing a couple of online yoga courses every other day, which have also been awesone.


ROOM WITH THIS VIEW: Marie Petrelis is trying to ignore this view from her house. Photo Supplied

marie-petrelisMarie Petrelis - Nutritionist (JBay)

She may not be a surfer, but she has a view of Supers most surfers would die for: "Just trying to all stay sane and especially for me, I need to exercise!? I usually run on the beach so I’ve had to drastically improvise ... I’ve been doing circular routes up the driveway and steps to the door and back down the other driveway. Another variation is running up and down the steps between myself and neighbour’s house (20 steps up and 20 down). Last week, I covered the equivalent of 2400 steps in my morning workout ... needless to say I exhausted myself ha ha.

"I also jump on the mini trampoline for 10 mins or so and do some free weights in the lounge on the days I’m not doing driveways (hills) or steps ... I combine this workout with some AB and stretch exercises on the mat. I’ve also borrowed my moms indoor bicycle that is so ancient, the resistance doesn’t work ... so on a lazy day I “freewheel” for about 45 mins (20-easy-kilometers).

"Yesterday I joined my running club on a 24 hour challenge to run 60 mins up and down the garden before passing the “baton” onto the next person to continue their 60 min run ... this went on for 24 hours where each member ran the equivalent of 1 hour passing the baton on ... it was boring to run 50 meters repeatedly for an hour but great fun knowing we had a challenge. I’m running out of exercises so joke about swinging next between the house roofs."


IN THE BAY OF J: Cass Collier still loves to surf Supertubes after coming here for several decades.

CassCollier AlanvanGysenCass Collier, big wave surfer (Cape Town)

Greetings king, naturally, we are connected by the ocean. I am like a wave, constantly moving, eating, absorbing, giving, so i can recieve again. All the time I travel knowing that there is always a wave, cause there is our mother ocean, ever faithfull, ever sure. I have no fitness routine, I only have fitness, which is the gift of life, of breadth. Lion out of Zion. This is who I am. And riding waves was a gift from my father AHMED COLLIER. A true fitness fanatic who taugh thousands of children to swim, single handedly. More love, I am nothing in comparison to many like him. Much love.

AndrewWilsnagh AlanvanGysen

HAPPIER TIMES: Andrew Wilsnagh lives up from his favourite spot. See his view below. Photo AVG

Andrew-Wilsnagh-his-viewAndrew Wilsnagh - Founder Kalk Bay Shootout

Ahoy Bru! All good this side. Ja, interesting to see what others are doing (hopefully drinking beer, so there’s a lot of spare waves after lockdown!)

Am doing a bit of yoga b4 breakfast. Then 30-45min skipping before lunch and strength training in the evening: push ups, sit ups, pull ups, chin ups and a bit of dumbbell work. Now and then I get on the boxing bags. Today I am resting, so cleaning mildew ceilings, and touching up dings. Ja, waves been so good, probably most consistent three week period I’ve seen since gromhood! Been best not to look out the window!! Frothing is an understatement. Stay well and hope to see you in the water soon!


LUCKY TJOP: Dylan Lightfoot back when he was winning wildcard slots. Photo Patterson / RVCA

DylanLightfoot-VansSurfProClassic AVGDylan Lightfoot - Pro WSL QS surfer (JBay)

I am in Jeffreys Bay at the moment. Neil Hopkins, who has helped me through a few injuries, has sent me a workout program, which has been great! It has been particularly tough watching perfect waves roll through at Supers though. The last time I surfed was out at Supertubes, the waves were cooking! It was a great send off into the lockdown. I don’t agree to surfing during this lockdown period in South Africa. If surfing is an exception then everyone should be allowed to participate in their sporting activity, which defies the point of staying indoors and limiting the exposure to Covid-19.

Kwezi-Qika AlanvanGysen

SMILEY FACE: Kwezi Qika is lucky to be living on Reunion Island, but can't surf! Photo AVG

KwezKwezi Qika - longboard champ (Reunion Island)

Hi Steve, I’ve moved overseas to Réunion Island. My Fiancé, who is French, is a doctor here. For fitness, I’m doing a routine workout every day for the next 30 days to keep fit and to try stay sane during this worldwide epidemic. The training also helps me keep my mind positive because I can feel it can make a person go crazy from being indoors for such a long period of time.


MASKED AVENGER: John McCarthy is locked down in front of an epic South Coast lineup.

john-McCarthyJohn McCarthy - Author, former pro surfer
(South Coast, KwaZulu Natal)

All good here on the KZN S coast. My wife, Nikki, and I start everyday with an hour of yoga which is based on the Astanga primary series. I normally do yoga 3/4 times a week anyway, but doing it everyday has been incredible. I usually work for a few hours then I a tethered 30-40 minute pool swim (hard), usually at lunchtime or a 4-6km barefoot garden run (awesome) usually in the late afternoon. Sometimes both.

I’ve also been working on my static breath-hold in the pool with my daughter, Jess, doing safety for me. We are mostly eating clean and lean but with the occasional set of chocolate brownies home baked or a burger/pizza night for fun and of course good Bean Green coffee in the morning and an ice cold beer in the evening.

I launched my SWIM FREE course online on google classroom in the second week of lockdown. On the first course I had people in CT, DBN, Australia, Zinkwazi and Sweden. This was mind blowing for me and a huge learning curve. I’m making a few tweaks and will probably launch the second course towards the end of next week.

I’ve recorded an audio version of my ‘Swimming Easter Island’ book and I’m working with the Plastic Oceans International guys in the US to complete the Spanish translation. I have also started writing my next book which is a novel. Between the training and the creative projects and the online teaching the days are full. This time of the year they are also beautiful here, so enjoying the opportunity to be in this place and be creative. As we entered into lockdown I realized I was going to be taking a massive financial hit, which I have. I know I’m not alone, I’m going to have to figure out a new reality when this is all over like so many of us will, but to be honest I’m not spending lots of time thinking about it.

I have a roof over my head and plenty of food and I’m with my family. I am well aware that many South Africans are suffering hugely at this time. We’ve supported Greg Bertish’s feeding scheme in Elands Bay and the one that has been set up in Sodwana. I’ve just heard that there’s one that has been set up for J-Bay, and we’ll support that one too.

The worst part is I have a view over an amazing spot which has had its fair share of good days. The authorities here have been super heavy enforcing the lockdown. Three guys were arrested and fined for just walking on the beach here last week and a Spearo was arrested yesterday, and spent the weekend in jail. For me experiencing this lockdown has made me realize how much freedom we enjoyed before lockdown. Hopefully we’ll be walking dogs and surfing amongst other things again soon.

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