Feel Good

3 ways surfing will revolutionise your wellbeing

South Shields Surf CIC have changed the game when it comes to making surfing accessible to everyone.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 16.09.2022

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You’ve all seen the meme – trying to excel in our careers, maintain a social life, drink enough water, exercise, text everyone back and keep on top of housework has got us feeling like stressed Cruella behind the wheel.

Meditation, journaling, yoga, crafting… Keeping ourselves mentally and physically healthy takes time we don’t have. But the alternative is way worse. So, what’s the solution?

Something efficient and effective. Something anyone can try and everyone can benefit from. Something local, sustainable and accessible.

Something like surfing.

We may be chasing the last few rays of summer sunshine, but our days at the beach don’t have to be shelved for another year.

And before you complain that it’s too cold to surf in Newcastle or quip that we’ll never see you in a wetsuit, just hear us out.

SOUTH SHIELDS SURF CIC

Meet Nick Jones – lifelong surfer and founder of South Shields Surf CIC.

Having always loved the sport and being by the beach, Nick opened a surf school in 2016 to combine his passion with his career.

A fast hit within the local community, a year later found South Shields Surf School not only running various kids’ clubs but also branching out into using surfing to provide support for those with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH).

After seeing the impact they were able to have after only a few sessions, Nick decided to change the business into a community interest company – thereby being able to apply for funding so that more of those who needed to were able to access fully and partially paid-for surfing lessons.

Fast-forward to today and South Shields Surf CIC work with local schools, community groups, cubs’ and scouts’ clubs and the wider public to provide a range of surfing, rock pooling and paddle boarding lessons for all ages and abilities, as well as SEND and SEMH sessions in the water.

Between their expert mentors and willing volunteers, they’ve also managed to roll out an accessible and fully adaptive surf session programme using a specialised surf board with a mounted chair – which they designed themselves, with the help of specialists at St Oswald’s Hospice, Beach Access North East, Peacocks Medical Group and East Coast Fibreglass Supplies, so they could offer surf lessons to even more people in the North East.

‘We believe that being in the ocean and at the beach is good for everyone, and that everyone should be able to access this,’ explains Nick. ‘We want to use the ocean and beach to benefit our community’s social, physical and mental wellbeing and we want to protect this environment for future communities.’

So, when it comes to looking after your own wellbeing, why not choose an activity that will also support someone else’s?

All the profits from any class you book at South Shields Surf CIC will help fund a session for someone who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to enjoy the water, as well as beach cleans to look after marine life. Now, we don’t know about you, but that already makes us feel happier.

WHY SURF IN NEWCASTLE?

We get it, it’s cold. But the North East coastline is actually renowned as being a world-class surfing spot.

Why? Well, it’s home to barrelling reefs, plenty of sand bars and a community of committed (if slightly crazy) surf-loving folk.

And, of course, the weather. What many non-surfers tend to regard as being the biggest barrier to the sport in the North East is actually one of its greatest assets. High winds battering the coastline make for choppy seas, and choppy seas give way to heavy waves. Waves made for riding.

Which is why (believe it or not) winter is actually the best time to surf in Newcastle. Sure, your fingers and toes get a little nipped and attempts to towel-dry in hailstorms are never usually successful, but wetsuits are a great invention and keep you warmer than you think.

Plus, we haven’t even told you about all the ways surfing can improve your health and fitness yet…

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SURFING?

Surfing is a full body workout

Surfing isn’t just lying down on a board. It requires strength across the full body, just like swimming. Surf regularly and you’ll start to see increased muscle tone and definition. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a fitness freak to try it.

‘Surfing is classed as a “vigorous” workout by many health experts,’ Nick explains. ‘You use a huge amount of your body’s muscles in the water – arms, core and legs. It also gets your heart rate going and helps with your cardiovascular fitness. One of the most common things we hear people say after a lesson or open session is always: “wow, I’m absolutely shattered!”

‘But for anyone who’s worried their fitness isn’t good enough to give it a go, don’t be. One of the best things about surfing is that you decide how much you want to push yourself and how many waves you want to go for.’

Surfing improves your health 

Ok, we’ve established surfing is a great workout and can really burn those calories, tone muscles and get our hearts pumping. But what about what’s going on within our bodies beyond a purely ‘fitness’ level?

‘When spending time outside – be it on the water or on the beach – we get a great dose of Vitamin D, which helps the growth of our skin cells and regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in our blood,’ says Nick.

‘The act of surfing can also improve our balance, coordination and flexibility, which are all important in our everyday lives. Plus, increased flexibility can help us to reduce the risk of injury – making surfing a great, low-impact activity to enjoy alongside other sports.’

Surfing works wonders for our mental health

Everyday life is stressful right now and we always seem to be searching for new ways to unwind. And while practices like meditation and journaling have many mental health benefits, combining a detox with a full-body workout could pay dividends to your long-term health and happiness.

‘In my opinion, the benefit to our mental health is one of the largest positives of surfing,’ Nick reasons. ‘There are studies happening all over the world to get some solid data published on this.

‘When you’re surfing, you’re focused purely on what you’re doing at that exact point in time. You’re disconnected from social media, the messages on your phone and life outside the water. It gives you a chance to remove all the distractions in your life and be focused on you.

‘Surf therapy is being used around the world to support people with their mental health, physical ability and social integration. With surfing being so physical, you also get the additional boost of adrenaline and endorphins being released within your body, which instinctively help to relieve stress and improve your sense of wellbeing.’

So, water you waiting for?

Find out more about South Shields Surf CIC and book your next lesson on their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram

South Shields Surf CIC, Promenade, South Shields NE33 3NG

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