Liquid Lines

99 Ways to Get Fit in the Summer – the Gym Ain’t One of Them

Summer Provides More Alternatives for Exercise. Some of Them Make It Feel Not So Miserable
By JON COEN | Jul 18, 2018
Photo by: Bill Machotka Core strength. Matty Guarino of Cedar Bonnet Island does his best impression of former LBI surf star Justin Citta.

Don’t you wish you had some friends who worked out and posted their exercise regimens to social media? I wish people would take more shots of their abdomens, glutes and sweaty faces and tell us how hard they’re working. More butts and biceps! We’d be so much more motivated if they would just throw in some inspirational quotes, right?

Seriously, wouldn’t we all be able to reach our goals if people would just get more workout selfies with hashtags like #fitlife, #trainhard and #noexcuses?

I know that for me, going to the gym is a last resort. But let me be clear: I’m not making fun of people who go to the gym. I’m a big supporter of health and exercise, even if I have 20 empty Yoo-hoo bottles in my recycling bin. I make jokes about tourists, locals, Uggs, flannels and $80K SUVs. Last week, I was definitely making fun of people who scream out the words to “Sweet Caroline.” But I am not making fun of exercise.

It’s amazing how many ways people are committed to fitness around here. Drive through Harvey Cedars on a Sunday morning. You’d think Sunset Park is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics. Or maybe you just have to stay skinny to fit on the shoulder of the Boulevard through town there.

All through the area, folks are kayaking the lagoons and road biking through the Pines. There are elliptical machines flying down Ocean Boulevard and spry seniors wiping up the pickle ball courts with unknowing challengers. There’s literally a yoga class somewhere every hour from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. You got Quinn McNicholas making people do crazy stuff with giant ropes and balance boards.

I’ve even seen a resurgence of inline skating. Maybe it’s ironic hipsters, but they seem like they’re working up a sweat. And then there was a guy in Surf City who was stand-up-paddle skateboarding. I don’t even have a funny quip for that.

The traditional gym is just not my thing. Last winter, I rode a mountain bike on the frozen beach just to avoid it. I mean, I have a gym membership; I do exercise things at the gym. I just don’t like it. I wear my headphones the entire time because I can’t handle the music. I don’t watch the TVs on the elliptical since there are nine channels, one of which is Fox News, and another seven are sports highlights. (Why’d they get rid of the Weather Channel?)  And when I’m done, there’s no hanging around talking about squats over protein shakes. I awkwardly lift my body weight a bunch of different ways, get my heart rate up … and I’m out.

Most surfers over 25 aren’t in shape from surfing, they’re motivated to exercise for surfing. You can’t expect surfing to keep you in shape in New Jersey. Unless you’re traveling six months of the year, relying on surfing to keep you fit is like stopping for doughnuts on your way to the health food store (which I have certainly done). Hence, some sort of flexibility, endurance and strength training, optimally a combination of all three, is important.

Hardcore surfers aren’t always huge fans of summer, but for year-round watermen and everyone else, there are so many varied and more pleasant ways to exercise from May to October. Having this much daylight alone makes a world of difference for folks who work traditional hours.

And then you have the general conditions – the temperature, the wind, the tide. I guess folks are more apt to do outdoor workouts in nice weather anywhere, but on our coast, we have so many options in the summer. The ocean and the bay being warm clearly make paddling, rowing and swimming much easier.

There’s something to be said for the determination to put on a heavy wetsuit to paddle or swim in the off-season. I’m not sure about you, but when the surf’s firing, that’s all worth it. However, wrestling into a four-mil and boots to paddle on the bay, not so worth it. We all enjoyed South-End Surf ’N Paddle’s Polar Paddle race through the ice in February, but I don’t know anyone who relishes daily paddles across the tundra. It’s just so much easier to hop out of bed motivated when it’s warm.

Another factor is the wind. We get far less extreme weather this time of year, and wind is a big part of that. (It’s also the reason the surf doesn’t get above 3 feet.)

So with the warmth of the season, the early sunrise and generally light winds, it affords us the ability to do so much more. We can run, paddle, pedal, swim and stretch. You can work out with your friendly local lifeguard or take one of the 109 fitness classes offered each day on the Island or the mainland. If you’re having a hard time, there’s an app called Mind Body Connect that shows you all the fitness and wellness classes in your area and even lets you sign up. I took my first Beach Boot Camp with Black Sheep Studio this week and it kicked my ass. (Little hint – pace yourself and don’t eat breakfast until after.)

Long Beach Township has a new summer basketball league by the municipal complex. Go into Shore Brake Cyclery and ask Charlie all about the LBI Triathlon Club and the training they do. There’s stand-up paddling and yoga. There’s even stand-up paddle yoga.

One morning routine I’ve found fun is bringing your surfboard to the beach to work out. Don’t let the waves deter you; no matter how bad it is, bring your stick. Wear a watch and leave your board when the beach rakes won’t run it over. Do whatever exercise you’re into and then take a beach run. Soft sand runs are great for your core and legs, but you can do more mileage by the waterline. If the tide is high, you don’t have a choice.

While you’re running, keep an eye on the surf. As you run, you may notice your perspective on the conditions change. Logically, if you spend 20 minutes on the beach, you’re going to see more rideable waves than a one-minute surf check. Psychologically, the longer we run, the more we’d rather be surfing, hence you start saying to yourself, “Oh, I could definitely get that corner,” or “If the tide drops just a little, I could totally ride a longboard.”

When you get back from the run, grab your board and paddle straight out. Pretend you’re in a 15-minute heat and try to catch as many waves as you can. They don’t have to be great, just don’t sit idle. Attack every little bit of slop. You’ll feel strong, and you might be surprised at how many waves you get. But you’re having fun, and you just kept your heart rate way up for another 15 minutes. If you have time to extend the session, even better.

Also, don’t discount the fitness value of longboarding. We tend to equate riding a log with “getting lazy.” If you find yourself paddling out for 6-foot hurricane swell on a funshape in August instead of your performance board of choice, well, then you’ve gotten lazy.

But in general, when you ride a longboard, you can catch more waves. Don’t be a jerk to everyone else in the water, but when you get into a rhythm, you’re getting great cardio. You’re riding waves farther, hence paddling farther back out. And spinning that log or hanging on through the soup works your whole body.

There are folks around here with far more fitness knowledge than I have. And according to Instagram, they seem to want to share it. Maybe go talk to them. Or maybe just think of ways to make your routine a little less “routine.” Before you know it, you’ll have to put on a snow suit just to get to the yoga studio again, wishing for a warm morning and yoga on the beach.

WAVES: Each week I like to give a wrap-up of the surf conditions we’ve just had and what elements are in place for the week ahead. I can’t say that I really know what the heck happened last week, but we had waves, so no complaints here.

The big head scratcher was when Hurricane Chris passed a few hundred miles off our coast in the middle of last week and we basically got nothing out of it. Then from Thursday to Sunday, some residual swell showed up rather unexpectedly. There was nothing fantastic, but when you can string together a bunch of days of waves in a row in the summer, that’s not bad.

Friday definitely looked to be some kind of groundswell because of the swell period and the closeouts, but it was up to chest high. The swell continued Saturday, and then Sunday seemed to be a combination of groundswell and windswell from the winds that came up on Saturday. I don’t think anyone spent a whole lot of time wondering where it all came from, but just getting some warm-water waves.

“Summer 2018 has been sick,” Matty Guarino told me. “Nothing all-time, but fun surf basically every day, not to mention the water has been almost tropical at times. I pushed my daughter Maeson into her first wave ever and she stood up, first try. It was truly a proud father moment. Now we just need a big summertime swell without the hurricane hype.”

We’ve definitely hit that mid-summer benchmark with the water temp. The south wind really came up on Saturday, and when it does that, we can usually expect upwelling, where warm surf temps get replaced by colder water from deeper in the ocean. The last few weeks have seen water temps seesaw between tropical and chilly as the wind goes from south to north or east. But when the wind died for Sunday morning’s dawn patrol, the water wasn’t fully arctic. It was cooler, but not stinging. Severe upwelling isn’t as pervasive later in the summer, so we may have hit a sweet spot.

Look for more of the mixed bag of windswell this week with a possible uptick on Saturday into Sunday. Normally we get one good hurricane swell in late July, but things aren’t looking very favorable right now.

SAGA OF SAND: Beach replenishment resumed and then halted again in both Harvey Cedars and Surf City. If you want to see what this process is all about, check the Surfline Hudson Avenue cam at Harvey Cedars. Directly in front of the cam you see a normal summer sandbar. When the camera pans north, you see the bigger beach with darker sand and waves breaking on the beach. As they move down the beach, the beloved break at Hudson will likely get buried. It’s something we’ve seen for 12 years now as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 50-year Storm Damage Reduction Plan.

The sand is needed to bolster the Island. Without these projects, LBI might be a Swiss cheese island of inlets by now. And the sandbars do come back with weather, wave action and current. Unfortunately, summer patterns are not conducive to that. And the towns don’t pick when replenishment gets done. They get told when replenishment gets done by one of the two contractors that do such work. Also, the covering of the jetties has had a seriously negative long-term effect on wave quality here.

Just this week I received an email from a Brant Beach fellow in his 60s who’s been learning to surf with his daughter for a few summers. Brant Beach got replenished last spring, and there’s still no sandbar.

He wrote me asking if there are any online reports or resources to find out where the sand is good. Unfortunately, there are not. I can say that most of the Island has average sandbars at the moment, but the northern end of Surf City should be avoided, and the middle of Harvey Cedars from Hudson up to Sussex has no sandbar, and the water is pretty dark with sediment.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the southern end of Surf City. At the start of the summer, the town stated that the entire town would get pumped, but from about 12th Street back down to the border of Ship Bottom is in pretty good shape. Have to see if the town and the N.J. Department Environmental Protection decide not to disrupt the high season with the relatively small amount of sand needed to fill the project’s template.

WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT’S HAPPENING: Saturday evening saw another great showing of the LBI Paddle Classic. The wind certainly didn’t do anyone any favors, though, as it was blowing a good 15 knots during the race, the most wind we had all week.

The Men’s Long Course proved to be an exciting finish as Rob Mulloy and Michael Jacobus, both on elite class 14-foot boards, finished neck and neck, coming down to a foot race at the end. Juliette Duhaime battled the wind to win the Women’s Long Course. Art Bielen won the Short Course overall. For full results, check

On Friday night, Just Beneath the Surface will premier its second episode of the second season at the Sea Shell in Beach Haven (in the spirit of full disclosure, I have a dog in this fight). This episode features the local resurgence of classic longboarding and a spotlight on the volunteer first responders who keep this island safe. The party starts at 9. There is no cover, and the mini documentary will be show outside by the pool on the big screen. Come watch some cool cross stepping with insight from Allie Panetta, Bob Selfridge and Randy Budd.

This Saturday, the folks at Bowker’s South Beach Grill will be holding a fundraiser for the New Jersey Organizing Project starting at 4:30 p.m. The Bowkers are a local community-minded surf family, and NJOP has done wonders in the state Legislature for Sandy victims. Now they’re shifting their focus to community justice and climate change. A $20 donation gets you food, and music by Don McCloskey. Bring your own booze and beach chair.

Then we have two of the most enjoyable events of the year right around the corner. The Jetty Coquina Jam is the following weekend, July 29, in Brant Beach. The following Saturday is the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic in Ship Bottom. More on those next week.

I have to end Liquid Lines by saying that we lost a very good person earlier this month in Surf City. Last Wednesday, a bunch of her friends gathered on the beach at dawn, to say good bye and watch the sunrise, as she used to do. Soft music, flowers, friends ... It was beautiful.

Anyway, it’s easy to take our friends for granted, as it’s easy to take the summer sunrise for granted. It’s good to get up early in the morning and watch the big ball of fire come over the horizon. I know we have a million reasons not to, but in a few weeks, the summer’s over. And then it’s winter. And you didn’t watch the sunrise.

Sometimes friendships are like that, too.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.