How to Not Look Like a Fat Groundhog When Spring Finally Comes AroundFit Tips for Winter, a Bay Wave, and a Chance to Talk to Engineers About Beach Replenishment.
Well, this is it: February, the proverbial “dead of winter,” the polar (in every sense) opposite of LBI’s sunny summertime season. Ain’t no mini golf or sunset cruises. Ain’t no banger wait shifts, or surreys pedaling down the street. And the fat rodent says six more weeks of winter. If he were one of those rats that live in the rocks at Barnegat Inlet, he would know better – at least 10 more weeks of winter for LBI.
To be honest, we’ve been getting off pretty easy. As long as that bay isn’t a frozen slate with chunks of salty slush running out the inlets, showing up in the face of the waves, it’s a pretty mild winter.
If a local business shuts its doors for any length, this is the time. Considering they’re family owned and operated, it’s deserved time off. Even the six-month places and the eight-month places and the “almost year round” places are boarded up like a played-out mining town.
From May to October we have so many more choices. You want a smoothie with a protein boost? You got it. Vegan cheese steak? No problem. Kale juice, local strawberries, hummus wrap, Jersey tomatoes, whatever a heart-healthy heart desires, you’re just a few sunny blocks away from it.
In February, well, there’s pizza.
And that’s good. Because if we start falling into that orange vortex of the hairpiece Twitter apocalypse, I’ll be eating a slice with peppers and onions in those final moments of the earth’s history. But just in case our planet isn’t plunged into nuclear winter, we want to come out of regular ol’ winter in some kind of shape.
But mannnnnn, is it hard in the winter. I see those people jogging, alone, after the sun has set on bitter-cold nights. I often think about stopping them to tell them how much respect I have for them, but then I remember that I hate them. And I love pizza.
So what the hell do you do? How do you keep fit when your body naturally wants to store fat for the winter? (Which is great justification for vodka penne pizza, by the way.)
We all want to stay in shape for the same reasons. Your body feels better. You have more energy. You don’t look like Steve Bannon and Michael Moore’s lovechild (how’s that bipartisan visual?) And most importantly, you surf better.
But there’s something we all learned in our 20s – as demanding as it is, surfing in New Jersey does not keep you in shape. If we had waves every day, well, that would be a different story. Our pounding beachbreaks could whip you into shape in a hurry. But outside of one day of waist-high waves, we went about two weeks with zero surf. Even when we get the goods, six hours of surf a week isn’t going to give you the strength training, nor cardio you need.
Summer is a different story. In addition to all the aforementioned health food (and let me remind you, The Local, The Schwee Tea Company and the Greenhouse Café are all open, with Living on the Veg reopening in a few weeks) there are far more exercise options from May through the holidays. Swimming and paddling the bay or ocean barely sound like work right now. And while the summer surf pales in quality to winter surf, it doesn’t go outright flat like it does in the winter.
So how do you stay on it and keep from growing three wetsuit sizes at a time of year that we just want to settle in with Netflix and ice cream?
“Getting in shape doesn’t happen overnight. Many people see winter as time for gaining weight, layering up their clothes and hibernating. However, you don’t get in the shape you want by sitting on the couch. Before you know it, Memorial Day is a week away and you haven’t done anything. Even if you break a sweat 20 minutes a day, you are still moving your body and moving more and more towards your goals. So don’t think you need a full hour or two workout. Remember, every little action you do counts,” local trainer Quinn McNicholas of Fitness by Quinn told me this week.
She shared a few tips on not gaining a few extra chins this winter.
“We don’t get the warm weather we wish we did year ’round, so this means you should spend more time warming up. Doing some mobility and getting your joints moving will save you when you’re older. Having a good warm-up will also prevent injuries and set the tone for your workout, so make it awesome. You should never go into a workout without warming up, so break a little sweat before you begin,” she added.
She also recommends taking a new approach. No matter how much you might hate the idea of regimented exercise, it might be time to just bite the bullet. Her fitness approach uses a lot of balance boards and balance balls to improve core strength for surfing.
“If you usually workout outside, use this time to try something new. Try out new classes or hire a personal trainer to keep you going throughout the winter. If you usually work out after work, try waking up a little earlier and get it done before you leave. At the end of the day you are most likely to opt out of exercising because the sun sets earlier or because you’re cold and want to relax. You’ll be able to come straight from home and not have to worry about it,” she explained.
Many of us fight flus and stomach bugs all winter, which just sets us back.
“The more fit you are, the less likely you are to get sick. Make sure you are eating healthy, wholesome foods, taking multivitamins, keeping your exercise consistent and getting enough sleep.”
Some folks just love working out. They enjoy the ends as much as the means. I think these people are sick. So for the rest of us: motivate yourself to surf in the cold even when it’s not perfect. Take advantage of those windless 50-degree days to paddle on the bay. Run on the beach. I think the key is just to keep thinking about those May and June days, getting up and doing what we hate to do. Because on that day of great surf, when the sun is shining and there are bowls to be had, we’re going to be glad we did.
AND THE SURF: There’s normally a big chunk in the middle of my column running down the surf of the past few weeks. Notice how short it is today.
I could go back and rehash that bombing nor’easter swell we had on Jan. 24, but likely you saw all the surf media (traditional and social) coverage of it. Other than that, it was abysmal for surf.
BAY WAVE: During that aforementioned nor’easter, photographer and surfer Jonathan Hoover found his own little piece of paradise, surfing Barnegat Bay.
“Chris Huch and I have talked about surfing the bay for many years. Chris, Greg Sakowicz and a couple other people have also surfed a true bay wave, so I am not the first,” he admits.
A true bay wave by his definition is “a wave that is generated by strong local winds, blowing over the bay waters for an extended period of time, not a wave that originates in the ocean and is funneled through an inlet.
“On the morning of Jan. 23rd I texted Chris about the possibility of a rideable wave somewhere in the bay. Around 11 a.m., I received a reply from Chris with a nine-second video, of a thigh-high wave peeling down the line somewhere in the bay. Within minutes I loaded up my gear and headed to the bay spot approximately 40 miles from my house. When I stood up and rode my first wave, a local couple sitting in their truck watching me started honking their horn and hooting as I rode it to the sand.”
Hoover got three decent waves where he actually stood up and went down the line.
“Had I paddled out an hour or two earlier, my wave count would have been much higher, but the tide really filled in during the two hours I was in the water. It was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to the next time that place breaks.”
EXPO, BRO: I made the annual trip down to Surf Expo to see what we can expect in terms of surf products this year, and the big story was how quiet it was.
This was the general feel for the surf industry back in 2009, soon after the economic downturn. But it hung on, through 10 years of a limping economy. Now the pillars of the industry are certainly feeling some crumble. Billabong, Rip Curl, Hurley, Quiksilver, Roxy and Lost weren’t even at the show. Two weeks ago, Surfing Magazine was shut down for good. Hurley recently cut its entire team except for the most elite global surfers and has stopped all print advertising. (And they’re owned by Nike!)
Now that certainly opens the door for the up-and-coming companies. Most of the local shop owners also aren’t too affected by the big boys not showing up. Locally based Jetty had a very good show, which will translate to even better things for our Island surf community.
Overall, surf apparel looks good. I’m not seeing any ankle-length trunks, nor ball huggers. There’s no defining trend right now in surfboard shapes. It’s very clear that pretty much “anything goes,” and squared-off, stubby things are as prevalent as single-fin longboards or performance shortboards. The only direction is material, as manufacturers are getting more technical.
The one thing that was very noticeable was the shrinking of the Stand Up Paddle segment at the show. This doesn’t mean that the sport itself is shrinking. I am pretty confident we will see more folks out paddling, fishing, yogaing and racing this summer than 2016, but overall, it seems the industry is pulling back a bit. Every year, new gear has come out in huge numbers.
This year, not so much. Many of the paddle brands were not there this year and Expo 86’d the big pool where people would demo boards.
What does this have to do with you and your next surf session? Nothing really. So long as there are still companies making good wetsuits and shapers making boards, the goings-on of the surf industry at large really don’t matter all that much.
GOING ON: Here are a few things that really do matter. Alliance for a Living Ocean and South-End Surf ’N Paddle hosted the Polar Paddle last Saturday, LBI’s first-ever winter paddle race. Dave Biggy has the full story in this issue. I can certainly tell you that it was damn cold, and anyone who paddled has a lot of heart. Congrats to anyone who finished. I look forward to more of this.
If you’re one of those people who has an opinion on LBI beach replenishment (which is everyone), you should make it a priority to go to this week’s Science Saturday at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences when the presenter will be none other than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This Saturday, Keith Watson, project manager, and Jeff Gebert, Hurricane Sandy planning technical expert, both of the Corps’ Philadelphia District, will be at the Foundation to talk about the science behind the 50-year beach replenishment plan.
I have long been voicing my opinions about beach replenishment. My thought has been that yes, beach replenishment is going to be necessary if we want to continue to live at the New Jersey shore (and not just on barrier islands). But I have questioned if there might be better methods than what we’ve seen. Honestly, it took a good 10 years, but there was finally some dialogue about this. And I earnestly believe that there are more thought and common sense now than ever before.
But l can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on this matter, whether for or against. And therefore, I encourage everyone who is such a Facebook coastal expert to attend.
Go to the meeting. Ask questions. If you’re under the impression that sea level rise will magically recede and pumping sand is a waste of money, challenge these guys. If you think they should recognize the benefits of a sandbar, go tell them that. If you’re convinced that bayside flooding is a bigger threat, bring them the floodgate diagrams you drew on that napkin at the bar. If you feel that erecting massive piles of sand with no living infrastructure and then putting up thousands of dollars of dune fencing and walkways right before winter storms is a brilliant move, go commend them. If you think a few new inlets would actually be good for mainland communities, I’m sure they would love to hear that.
But first, listen to what they have to say. You might learn something.
And then you can go back on Facebook and say whatever the hell you want.
The following Science Saturday is Cooking Fresh Seafood with the folks from Viking Village, a little more light hearted. Science Saturdays are free for LBIF members and $5 for nonmembers.
Not a lot of other surf community events to report on, as usual in February. The Eskimo Outreach is Feb. 25. The inaugural event raised an unprecedented $90K last year. This one promises to bring back all the fun and charity with live music, food and drink, kids’ activities, a Siamese auction, fire pits and S’mores. The barstream will be open, serving craft beer and adult hot cocoa. There will be food from Mud City, which we are all kind of missing while it’s closed, plenty of activities for the kids and ways to keep warm.
That’s all for now. There’s a good chance we will break out of the flat spell by midweek, but you might have to head to some of our northern neighboring beaches for better winds. And it certainly wouldn’t kill you to take a yoga class.