I am back from that beautiful gem in California’s much-maligned Central Valley with a new hunger for our sport of kings. A reinvigorated passion to learn, improve, to be the best surfer in the water not by having the most fun, no never, but, rather, by surfing the best. Opening shoulders during turns, bending at the knees not the waist, etc.
It was at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch that I learned, for the first time, that fitness actually enhances surfing. Thigh muscles necessary, a torso that can twist, but how to build the platform and build quick all while measuring progress with WHOOP, the very latest in fitness tracking excellence?
If Hollywood has taught me anything, it is that Robert De Niro looked peak best in Cape Fear, Steve McQueen in Papillon, Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke all lean and well-muscled. They looked like they would have each a fine wrapping cutback and I should attempt to become prison fit like them but how?
Ahhhh, Cousin Danny.
My own flesh and blood is currently serving yet another stint inside after going on yet another bank robbery spree after getting out of prison for going on a bank robbery spree and nearing legendary status.
A stone’s throw from being the most prolific bank robber in United States history.
The book, featuring Cousin Danny’s run, releases this Spring (Blessed are the Bank Robbers: The True Adventures of an Evangelical Outlaw, pre-order here etc.) and you can learn much about how to rob banks for yourself but we had never discussed fitness and so I asked him forthwith.
“How can I get prison fit?”
He responded mercifully quickly.
“10x pushups, 10x squats, ten times. 9x pushups, 9x squats, nine times. 8x pushups, 8x squats, eight times all the way down to one and then back up to ten.”
Visions of pig dogged tube rides danced in my head as marched out to the backyard cedar paneled yoga room, the closest approximation to cement box I currently have, and began.
I finished after 160 pushups, 160 squats, not even 3/10 of the way through the program. Shoulders on fire, especially reconstructed one. Thighs unable to take anymore. Sweating more profusely than after running three miles, than surfing Surf Ranch for an hour plus twenty minutes.
WHOOP strap, never not affixed, registered the strain as a 12.9.
A fine number, more than running three miles, and I felt well on my way to a powerful down carve so went surfing immediately.
I was too tired to do much, barely able to pop to feet, but did do one turn in my short 45 min session that felt powerful-adjacent and I knew I was on the right path.
The surfing, itself, still did not register as an “activity.”