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Month: April 2023

Forging a Maverick

In the early 2000’s I trained a young surfer by the name of Jay Moriarity. Jay was respected by the shortboard and longboard crowd alike. In many ways he was often the glue that kept both types of surfers from biting the heads off of one another. He surfed all types of boards including the big wave “guns.” He and his mentor, Rick “Frosty” Hesson trained on the water in all sorts of conditions. They trained Jay’s mental fortitude and breath holding ability for surfing the gigantic waves at the big wave spot just north of Santa Cruz in Half Moon Bay known as Mavericks. Typical winter swell will create waves in the 20-40ft range. However, some waves have been measured up to 100 feet high! Regardless of the size, Jay was in his element. 

He came to see me for some gym time and we focused on getting him in the proper condition to tackle the next big wave season. Sadly, Jay died in a free diving accident in the Maldives just a day before his 23rd birthday. The surf community was devastated with his loss. His memory still lives on with a long distance paddle race every June in Santa Cruz. There was a full feature film titled “Chasing Mavericks” that was produced a few years back. A book titled, “Making Mavericks” was written by Frosty and went a bit deeper in understanding who Jay was and the impact he had on the world of surfing and Santa Cruz in general. Many people have been affected by Jay, his joie de vie, and the impact he had on local surfers.

One surfer in particular, my son Jack, seems to have been heavily influenced by Jay and what he represented. Jack is 15 years old and was born after Jay passing. Nonetheless, he has been intrigued by Jay and his life’s path, regardless of how short it was. I do not know how many times has watched the movie or read the book or gone to YouTube and watched big wave surfing.

Jack got into surfing at the age of 9. I would take him to gentle surf spots until he was ready for bigger and more advanced conditions. Here we are six years later and Jack has followed in Jay’s footsteps by prone peddling 28.5 miles across Monterey Bay when he was 14. He surfs boards of all shapes and sizes of boards and competes in surf competitions up and down the California coast. He is respected by his peers (short boarders & long boarders). He has taken apnea clinics where he learns proper breath holding and how to break the panic cycle that comes in when air gets too low. He has spent the past couple of years charging the biggest waves in Santa Cruz whenever the chance comes.

Last week he reached a landmark in his goal setting and achieving. He and a couple of friends went up to Half Moon Bay and paddled out at Mavericks. The waves were perfect for his first experience. He was exhilarated and humbled all at once. He gave respect to Mother Nature and she seemed to reciprocate in kind. I am so impressed by his ability to set a goal and see it through. This is by no means the end to his goal achieving but it sure did impress me. Check out his first wave CLICK HERE. You may be equally impressed. 

There is a saying in Santa Cruz. “Live like Jay!” I know one person who has made that a reality. Now my mantra is “Live like Jack!”

Pillars of Human Movement

For decades the majority of exercise routines have centered around a dozen or so large muscle groups or areas of the body (i.e. chest, back, arms, shoulders, legs, and abs). This comes primarily from the world of bodybuilding. Therefore, if your desire is to stand on stage in a bikini or speedo all lubed up with tanning lotion and oil while flexing your muscles for all the world to see, then chances are that type of program is what you seek.

If your goals are different from that, then perhaps you may want to focus on how well your body moves with the least amount of pain or restriction rather than just the aesthetics. To make it easy, let’s think in terms of basic human motion. Better yet, we will call them pillars of human movement because they are the foundation of every action we take.

Pillars of Human Movement

  1. Pressing
  2. Pulling
  3. Level Change
  4. Rotation
  5. Locomotion

Pressing is simply exerting force away from the body. Examples are push ups, dips, bench press, handstands, and the shoulder press.

Pulling is exerting force toward the body. Examples are rowing, pull ups, pulldowns, curls, and climbing.

Level Change refers to the motion of the head as it moves up and down. Exercises that require this action are squats, lunges, step ups, and deadlifts and all of their variations.

Rotation is really how the body moves. It is a key ingredient for overall success. You can perform exercises that encourage torso rotation, hip rotation, head rotation, or total body rotation. Examples of a rotational exercise are medicine ball throws, cable or resistance band rotation, hitting a punching, and lunges where the stepping leg crosses the midline of the body.

Locomotion is moving the body through space; from one location to another. Examples of locomotion are crawling, skipping, broad jumps, walking lunges, and sprinting.

By covering all of the pillars the body gets to experience integrative functional movement; something that is not focused upon with a bodybuilding routine. With over 600 muscles in the body it makes sense to try and condition as many as possible rather than a dozen or so. Here is just one sample list of exercises using the concept of pillars as the central idea.

Push up

Pull Up

Squat

Lunge

Medicine Ball Side Toss

Sled push

Once you get the idea of the pillars, the workouts become easy and fun to create. Just try having at least one exercise from each of the pillars. You will find that one exercise may fall under more than one pillar. Get creative and have fun. 

How to Improve Your Pop Up

When surfers attempt getting to their feet to ride waves that maneuver is known as a “pop-up.” Many aging surfers struggle the most with this one particular move. Paddling and wave riding are almost second nature. However, without the ability to pop up on your board surfers are just riding expensive body boards.

Most of the time a person will think they need to do more push ups. This would make sense if they lacked the strength to lift their torso off the deck of the board but most surfers are able to do that. So if it’s not more push ups, what is it? Considering the fact that as we age most people become less active and find themselves sitting for prolonged periods of time. This combination will increase restrictions in the muscles surrounding the hips and thighs.

In order for a person to pop up on a surfboard, flexibility (or pliability) in hips and thighs are essential. Especially the front of the hips. Here is a short video I created that will guide you through one position that will almost guarantee your pop ups will be better the more you do it.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rODyy5cZgkU&list=PLdE4aIideNz0CtDEivGTkPfmvrKBXDtYm&index=5&t=42s