10 Unconventional Summer Workouts to Break the Yoga Monotony, Reviewed

Drumming. Trapeze. Belly dance. "Surfing" on an urban roof. I tried some outside-the-box fitness classes that feel more joyful than judgmental and torturous.

Health

SURFSET

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SURFSET
Photo: Courtesy of SURFSET NYC

Would you believe me if I told you that I’m a California girl who grew up going to the beach and doesn’t know how to surf? Would you also believe me if I told you that my first-ever surf lesson happened not in the icy waters of the Pacific on a 75-and-sunny day, but indoors, up four flights of stairs in the East Village?

Perhaps I took the summer-ing assignment too literally, but if the temperature’s right and the watermelon’s ripe, it might be worth dipping your toes in the ocean—or at least, simulating an experience like that. If an actual body of water is unavailable to you, I would suggest Surfset. The concept is delightfully kitschy: Learn to surf on a surfboard affixed to medicine balls in the middle of a concrete jungle, naturally working up a sweat in the process.

Here, the workout is somewhat beside the point. The mechanics of surfing and swimming will inherently tire you out, so rather than focusing on the banality of excessive reps, you can instead focus all your might on standing up on that wobbly surfboard and having some fun, goddamnit. The session I attended was for absolute beginners, and while some of my classmates had a couple of classes under their belts, we together flailed like hatchlings, giggled at ourselves, and fell off the board constantly. But by class’ end, and to the credit of our patient instructor, every single one of us was popping up on it like a Venice Beach groupie with a henna tramp stamp, and I was thrilled to find a genuine entryway to a new hobby and a caring community. Surf’s up in the city, baby!

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