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Everybody’s gone surfing—at the gym

SurfSet indoor surfing workout reformer

This  January, SurfSet Fitness is debuting its group workout classes at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers, where New Yorkers will ride the RipSurfer X, a newfangled piece of fitness equipment that resembles a surfboard-shaped Pilates Reformer.

And it’s already riding a wave.

Why? Surfing is having a serious moment. The once novel sport is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and has a growing fan base—not just in Southern California. These days, you’re practically expected to jump on a board the minute you’re off the Hampton Jitney. (Well, when the water’s warm.)

The SurfSet team is counting on this cultural cachet, hoping that the gym version will take off the way spinning did among non-cyclists.

While the machine helps surfers stay in shape in the off-season, the company is primarily pitching it as a fun, total-body workout for those who’ve never been on a board before (or who would like to practice their pop-ups before trying their luck at Far Rockaway).

What’s the workout like?

The workout had us sweating early on, with intense cardio moves that simulate surfing, like pulling the resistance bands in a paddling motion and popping up to ride a wave, combined with planks, lunges, and mountain climbers all on the board. And while you execute each motion, you’re also using core muscles to stabilize the moving board.

New York City fitness types are amped to try SurfSet. The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers has a whopping 30 weekly classes on the schedule. They’re open to non-members at $35 a pop, with members getting 15 percent off (and discounts if you buy 5- or 10-class packs). There’s also an 8-week boot camp for $285.

The RipSurfer X, created by former hockey player-surfer Mike Hartwick, took a year to develop and officially launched this November

Sarah Ponn, SurfSet’s lead fitness instructor, says that 350 non-members have already signed up and that the camp is almost full.

After March 4, the gym’s exclusive hold on the class will expire. Rather than see where the tide takes them, SurfSet is already making plans.

“Our dream is to have boutique SurfSet studios, with surf projections, wave sounds, and possibly sand!” says Ponn. “One in New York City, one on the West Coast, and then we’ll fill in between.”

But workout machines come and go. To keep making waves, SurfSet will need to cultivate the unique culture that brands like Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle have perfected. There’s a great big line separating the dedication spinners feel to raising their Flywheel numbers, say, and that old stationary bike gathering dust in your mom’s basement. To stay competitive, SurfSet needs more than just a kick-ass workout. It needs a scene. —Lisa Elaine Held

Are you going to try SurfSet? Could this be your new fitness love? Tell us in the Comments, below!

18 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. December 21st, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    The Indo Board is a product that has been in the market for 14 years with classes at CRUNCH Fitness, and several Plus One fitness facilities in NYC. The cost of an Indo Board is approximately $150 depending on the model chosen. Developed by a surfer in 1975 with 48 years of Surfing experience in 25 countries. The Indo Board is the most versatile Balance Trainer on the market and used by the USA Surf Team, Hawaii Surf Team, Australian Surf Team, UK Surf Team, and French Surf Teams that compete in the International Surfing Associations World Contests.

  2. December 22nd, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    $35 per class could get steep however sounds like a fantastic fun workout.

  3. December 24th, 2011 at 3:06 am

    [...] a small summer fever to your winter workouts? Well + Good’s got a low-down on a new surfing aptness class debuting in New York in January. While a pivotal square of apparatus was designed with off-season [...]

  4. December 26th, 2011 at 6:30 am

    [...] band squats, and donkey kicks galore made us whimper—and work!)Winners for Craziest WorkoutSurfSet (Indoor surfing on this tricked out Pilates Reformer.)Blindfolded Yoga (Finding balance within has [...]

  5. December 26th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    NO NO NO! Surfing does not need any more kooky products to “simulate” surfing and water down the essence of surfing. (pun intended) Move on to another sport. How about football? Create a simulated tacking machine or something.

  6. December 26th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    [...] • Try surfing remotely at your gym. (Well + Good) [...]

  7. January 15th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    [...] climbers. Runners can add swimming to their repertoire. And everyone can take sexy new classes like SurfSET, BodyArt, and indoor cycling with a Hudson River view.If you join by January 31, you’ll receive a [...]

  8. March 9th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    [...] it up for a modified burpee.The class is a hard, high-intensity workout, mainly because, just like the surfboard workout, you have to activate lots of muscles to stay on the damn thing.It improves your balance and [...]

  9. March 16th, 2012 at 6:30 am

    [...] of New York’s top fitness and yoga instructors are going surfing—at Chelsea Market.Surfset, a workout that uses a surfboard tricked out with Pilates-Reformer gadgetry, is teaming up with Rate Your Burn to open a fitness pop-up. It’ll feature six classes a day [...]

  10. May 30th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Surf Workouts are good to do in the Gym but it is better that you do it in real. Because when you go to the sea to surf you come to know the real adventure and there you will face the real challenge.

  11. May 31st, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    [...] Surfset Fitness is bound to feel-at home in its new location. [...]

  12. August 2nd, 2012 at 6:31 am

    [...] tried Surfset with your favorite instructor and you’re a fan of stand-up paddling. Next step, actual [...]

  13. September 7th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    [...] may be fading into fall, but you won’t have to stop surfing anytime soon. SurfSet is bringing its classes back to the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers starting September 17, with a [...]

  14. September 7th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    [...] may be fading into fall, but you won’t have to stop surfing anytime soon. SurfSet is bringing its classes back to the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers starting September 17, with a [...]

  15. September 10th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    [...] 30-minute yoga classes at 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. (spaces are first come, first serve). And classes from SurfSet, Holly Rilinger’s Training Camp, and Pure Barre (which just opened a second studio in Union [...]

  16. October 23rd, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    [...] Since its debut last December, Surfset had a pop-up location in Chelsea Market and debuted at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers (where it will remain on the schedule). Crunch will be its second permanent home. [...]

  17. October 23rd, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    [...] Since its debut last December, Surfset had a pop-up location in Chelsea Market and debuted at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers (where it will remain on the schedule). Crunch will be its second permanent home. [...]

  18. October 8th, 2013 at 2:54 am

    […] Surfset Fitness launched an innovative way to hone your body into a toned and gorgeous body like the surfers parade around with. These classes take on the form of surfing class without the waves to dunk you. The RipSurfer X is in the shape of a surfboard and has resistance bands to help mimic the paddling action and is used as a great tool to build great shoulders and arms. Surfing really gives you a full body workout with your core muscles the center of all the exercises as you balance on the board while performing lunges, doing planks and mountain climbers. Real surfers make use of these classes to keep their skills honed during their off season. New Yorkers say that the machine, […]

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