Using the RipSurfer X: What to Expect From a Land-Based Surfing Class

Get Fit Surf-Style on the RipSurfer X Balance Board

surfset1.jpg
SurfSet

After seeing SurfSet Fitness' RipSurfer X on Shark Tank, I couldn't wait to give a land-based surfing class a try. So when City Surf Fitness opened in Austin, TX, I signed up as soon as I could to give the surfboard-like fitness tool a try.

City Surf is a multi-studio fitness chain located in Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Georgia, and Colorado. The chain uses the RipSurfer X indoor surfboards to provide students with a variety of branded classes. These classes include everything from circuit training and boot camps to barre workouts and yoga, all performed on and around the indoor surfboards.

The Austin, TX facility offers two of the brand's programs:

  • City Surf: A total-body conditioning class using bodyweight exercises and surf-inspired movements to challenge and improve balance, coordination, and strength. The class is sometimes focused on training specific body parts, such as "legs and butt," or "arms and abs," so it's important to pay attention to the class focus when signing up for a session.
  • Buddha Board: A vinyasa yoga class performed on top of the RipSurfer X.

I decided to attend both City Surf and Buddha Board in back-to-back classes.

What You Should Know About the RipSurfer X

The RipSurfer X really does look like a surfboard. It's about 6 feet long and two feet wide, with a surfboard shape. At only 35 pounds, it's relatively lightweight and easy to move around.

The board itself sits atop what looks like three small stability balls lined up under the length of the board. Tension cords attach the board to its sturdy base, holding it in place on top of the small stability balls. The result is controlled instability. In other words, the board you stand on is highly unstable but still safe—you don't have to worry about the board falling off the balls and throwing you to the ground.

While I've never personally surfed, I have been stand-up paddleboarding, wakeboarding and water skiing, so I can attest that the instability of the board is much like what you'd experience while on the water—the board shifts and moves in every direction based on your movements.

Using the Board

After telling my instructor it was my first time attending a surf-inspired class, she took a few minutes to introduce me to the board to give me a run-down of what I could expect. The board's instability takes some getting used to, so she emphasized that it was fine to do exercises on the ground to the side of the board if doing them on the board felt too challenging. She also let me know she'd be offering modifications for each exercise so I could ease my way in.

As expected, the board is wobbly. It's unstable. But, if you do a lot of balance training the effect isn't all that different from standing on a balance disc or BOSU ball. The main difference (and benefit) is that it features a much longer and wider platform that makes it possible to perform exercises you couldn't possibly perform on a smaller surface, such as lunges. 

The board's length also created another challenge. Because the board is about six feet long, and I'm about six feet tall, some of the exercises, like planks and push-ups, made me feel like I would fall off the edges of the platform with one poorly-placed hand or foot. This wasn't a big deal when the exercise required nothing more than a static hold (like a plank), but it became much more daunting during active movements, such as burpees or mountain climbers, where I was a little worried I might hop my feet off the end of the board. I didn't realize until almost halfway through the class that the RipSurfer X has pads and small bumpers along the back edge, making it possible to successfully "feel" the end of the board before you actually hit it. This discovery helped me get more comfortable with the active movements that required a full body extension.

The Class Experience

The City Surf class was tough, featuring challenging interval-style programming. This type of conditioning is always taxing, but City Surf requires an extra dose of mental engagement to account for the added instability of the board. I especially liked the surf-inspired movements, such as "swimming" where you lie prone on the board and act as if you're swimming your arms through water, and pop-ups, where you quickly transition from a prone position to a standing position on the board.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as big a fan of the yoga class. The added instability of the board made it more difficult for me to successfully and safely perform each pose. I would have preferred doing the class on the ground. That said, many of the women in the class were raving about the experience at the end, so I do know that other people enjoyed it.

Finding a Class

CitySurf isn't the only fitness studio that offers surf-inspired classes on a RipSurfer X. You can search for classes in your area by heading to the SurfSet website. They have a running list of all the certified trainers and studios that use their boards.