Check out the common Q&A's to see if our Surf Fitness and Ocean Confidence weeks are right for you. Find out how we work, what's involved and whether you fancy coming along.
Q. What is Surf Fit Life?
A. Surf Fit Life is a training programme which has been developed by professionals and is accessible to anyone who practices a watersport. Essentially, it will equip you with the skills, techniques, knowledge and fitness drills to significantly boost your confidence in and around water and allow you to concentrate on progressing your surfing (or other watersport). What you learn with us will be relevant for life and will have a positive impact on your sport many years after you leave us. It's a long term investment in your personal development.
Q. Who runs Surf Fit Life?
A. The programme has been developed over many years by professional big wave surfer Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton and fitness guru Andrew 'Blakey' Blake. Blakey has been Cotty's personal trainer for over 10 years keeping him in top physical and mental condition to be able to surf the biggest waves in the world. The two Andrew's realised that the training they were doing was transferable to practically anyone and Surf Fit Life was born. Our third instructor is Bex (Blakey's partner). Bex is an Osteopath and sports masseuse and is a critical member of the team. She keeps the whole week running smoothly and is on hand to offer support to our guests (as well as amazing massages). The final member of the team is Chris Farris. Chris manages the marketing and bookings.
Q. Where are the retreats?
A. At the moment our retreats are based in Portugal. We have run them in the UK and plan to run them elsewhere in Europe in the next few years. Our Portuguese base is the famous town of Nazare and the surf centre we use has all of the facilities we need. The surrounding area is perfect too as we use the beach and town to train too, as well as the local pool for breath training. It's not far from Lisbon and a short trip to find decent waves up and down the coast (we don't expect you to surf Nazare)
Q. Who are Surf Fit Life weeks aimed at? I'm a beginner, can I join?
A. The weeks really are aimed at anyone who wants to boost their ocean confidence and surf/watersport level. We have had expert surfers on the same week as complete beginners and it's worked out great. Due to our small groups we can tailor training specifically for the individual. However, we realise that it can be intimidating training with experts if you are a beginner, so we are now splitting the weeks into very rough ability levels. You will be fully assessed on arrival and any injuries will be noted and exercise plans based around your limitations.
Q. Is it a big wave surf school?
A. No, it definitely is not a big wave surf school. In fact, it's not a surf school at all. We don't set out to coach your surfing. The week is about making you more confident in different situations in the ocean so that you can then focus on and progress your ocean sport. However, we are surfers (and all round water athletes) and love to go surfing with you during the week. We aim for one session per day depending on timing of other sessions and conditions. We'll drive up and down the coast to find waves suitable for the group.
We will surf with you and of course support you in your surfing, but we're not surf coaches. Of course if you are expert surfers we can take you into more challenging situations and you could potentially surf on the small days at Nazare. The surfing is more within your free sessions rather than a planned training session so it's pretty relaxed.
Q. Do I need to bring my own equipment?
A. We definitely suggest that you bring your own wetsuit. A 3/2 should be fine if you don't suffer from the cold, otherwise a 3/4 in April might be the go. No real need for booties, but could be handy at some spots. If you have your own board and are attached to it, we suggest you bring this if you can (longboards can be a struggle though). We should be able to provide you with a board if you come without, but this could be anything from a foamy to a thruster.
Q. How much is the full week and what's included?
A. The full week in Portugal is £999. This includes airport transfer on the arrival/departure Saturdays, all food (delicious, nutritious and filling) and accommodation. The accommodation is based on 2 (occasionally 3) sharing a 4 bunk room. The rooms are large and comfortable with direct access to a balcony and outside space. You really don't need money for anything else except your own personal spending money. You'll have a little time during the week to explore the town and can pop out for the odd drink (you'll be too tired to stay out late). The only meal not included is the last Friday evening where we all go out together in Nazare. You will need to pay for your meal and drinks on that night (usually 30 euros maximum).
You do also have the option of paying £1249 and having access to 2 online surf fitness and ocean confidence courses, one to do before the retreat and one after. The one before was designed by Surf Fit Life's very own Andrew Blake and he will guide you through it. It's extremely comprehensive and is brilliant to do even if you can't access the sea regularly. The second course is for after the retreat and it's called the Ocean Warrior Course by global waterman Mark Visser. This will build on what you've learnt with us and allow you to take some of our training further. Mark came to some of our sessions when we first started and saw the synergy here.
Q. I'm a little nervous of being shown up as I'm not too fit. Will this be an issue?
A. Surf Fit Life's philosophy is all about doing away with ego, being yourself and unlocking your own potential. The instructors are humble, friendly and accessible and will never, ever make you feel uncomfortable during your time with us. We assess each guest fully and will target training to their level. Of course we will push you from time to time, but you are free to communicate with any member of the team at all times if you'd rather not do something. Nobody will judge you for not taking part. Everyone has their reasons and we nurture an atmosphere of respect among ourselves and the other guests. We know very well that if you're not comfortable you won't learn and progress.