Surf Ready Fitness by Paul Norris
I stumbled upon Surf Ready Fitness through a local surf club and found their business model fascinating. I thought the concept of a gym for surfers located in California was genius, way ahead of its time, and wish I came up with it myself.
Even though I had an injured knee at the time, I needed to learn what the fuss was all about and ended up booking a class right away. I've tried just about every workout studio out there, and SRF really pushed me outside of my comfort zone—in the best way possible.
After taking the class, Paul Norris, the owner of SRF, sent me a very kind personal email asking me for my overall feedback where I had nothing but positive things to say about it. That’s when I knew I had to interview this man, get an inside scoop of the company, and share his story with the world.
Paul Norris is changing the game in the surfing industry and I can’t wait for you to learn all about it.
This is his chronicle:
Thank you so much for sharing your chronicle! First of all, give us a little background. How did you get involved in the surfing and fitness industry?
Yeah no problem; I'm happy to share my story! Long story short: From Florida originally, grew up wakeboarding and surfing. Went to college at the University of South Florida where I got my degree in Exercise Science. While in college, I started training athletes of every sport and I was also a strength coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team. In 2005, I got transferred out to CA with Velocity Sports Performance and everything kind of took off from there. I have to give Kevyn Dean credit for helping me get my foot in the door. He brought me on to train his surf team in HB and applying my knowledge of sports-specific training. Fast forward to 2019, I own and run Surf Ready Fitness and get to work with some of the top athletes in surfing.
Let’s talk about the business side. How did the concept for Surf Ready Fitness come to fruition?
We actually started as Extreme Athletics back in 2011. In 2018 we decided to rebrand and really go after the core surf community. I had always worked on the corporate side of fitness and back in 2010, decided I wanted to work for myself and that's how the gym was born.
I am personally a big fan of your Indo Board workouts, your trainer Jeremy Medina gave me great tips that have perfected my balance in and out of the water. Describe your favorite workout currently offered at your gym.
Hmm tough question! I don't know if I have a favorite workout but I am a big fan of plyometrics. In short, plyometrics are explosive movements that train the body to recruit more muscle fibers. In surfing, you can relate that too doing a big air or a really big turn off the lip.
From Kanoa Igarashi to Courtney Conlogue… You’ve had notable pro athletes come and train with you. Do you have a specific memory or a client that stands out as your proudest moment as a trainer and owner of Surf Ready Fitness?
Oh gosh...I'd have to say being with Kanoa when he won the US Open in 2017. He was already two years on tour but seeing him win the biggest local event in front of his home crowd, I actually think I got a little teary eyed that day. Haha! Honestly though, I truly have so much admiration and respect for every athlete I've worked with. They're all so talented and serious about training when they step foot inside my gym. I've developed personal relationships with all of them and that's what I truly treasure.
With surfing becoming an Olympic sport, Kelly Slater opening Surf Ranch, and Huntington Beach officially proclaiming September 20th as California Surfing Day—what do you think about the current state of fitness and surfing?
Love this question because I think it's on everyone's mind. When I first started training surfers, the idea of "surf training" was an after thought. Surfers weren't training and were just surfing. I think it's come full circle and now we're seeing a lot of the world tour athletes training. I'm really excited for the future of fitness in the surfing world and I hope to be involved as much as possible.
What is your advice for someone who is barely picking up surfing?
I would say to just stick with it! It's not an easy sport to just pick-up and definitely takes some courage to get out there on bigger days. Also, I think equipment is super important. I like to recommend a fun board for beginners, I think longboards are too big to manage for beginners.
Can you describe briefly what the Surf Ready Fitness philosophy is all about?
We are a gym for surfers. Period! We provide surf-specific workouts that are going to take your surfing to the next level. We work with kids, athletes, weekend warriors, we work with the entire spectrum. We cover power, strength, balance and flexibility. We want our clients to be well-rounded and we also want to our clients to have fun. Going to a big chain gym and doing machines is boring and non-functional! We also run bootcamp classes as well which I think is really cool because our clients have access to both types of training. We have yoga, an on-site massage therapist and PT so essentially I want SRF to be a one-stop shop for surfers.
Could you tell me about the different type of classes and how memberships would work? I’ve only done Surf Training, which by the way… WHAT A WORKOUT, but am dying to try your Bootcamp classes!
Sure! We offer two types of classes (surf class and bootcamp). Surf class revolves around surf-specific movements that include power, strength, balance and flexibility. Bootcamp class is one hour of just getting your butt kicked! We use a lot of equipment but the training is functional so most of the exercises we do are on our feet etc.
We have one membership option which is $120/month for Unlimited classes. That includes all surf/bootcamp classes, yoga on Thursday at 7pms and other discounts with our partners like Banzai Bowls and The Board Club.
Name a bad habit that you often see surfers making, and how can Surf Ready Fitness help them perfect their technique?
We're not a "surf technique" gym as we source those types of things out but I do hear a lot of our clients talk about not being flexible enough to get barreled or get to their feet quick enough when popping up.
What would you tell an entrepreneur who is starting out and trying to figure it out?
Find your passion and you'll never work a day in your life. I know that sounds cheesy but it's true. I typically work 12-15 hour days but I love what I do so I happily wake up and do it every morning. Also, do your research! Don't just jump into something because it sounds fun! I've had multiple setbacks but I've learned from each one so I always think it's smart to have a plan of attack first.
Let’s talk diet. What are your recommendations?
I actually don't like to recommend diets to people because everyone is different. Each person reacts differently to specific foods, some are high in protein, high in carbs and we're seeing more and more Vegans each day. So what I would recommend and I tell all my clients this: Keep a notebook of everything you put in your body for 1-2 weeks and keep track of how it made you feel after digesting it etc. From there, you can build out a plan to really dial in your diet.
What does the future hold for Surf Ready Fitness? Are you planning on expanding any time soon?
Great question! We actually get a lot of emails from people looking for a similar type gym in their hometown. I truly feel that we are unique in what we do so we're in the early stages of creating a "surf training app" so people all over the world can take advantage of our surf workouts. I think once the app is up and running, we will look to expand!
What’s a resource (podcast, blog, book…) you would recommend and refer to often?
I'm big on motivational books and podcasts but I would say my favorite is Joe Rogan. I just like how authentic he is and he doesn't hold back on telling you how he views the world. He has some great insight into self-motivation and helping build the life that you want to live. Check him out!
What do you love the most about being a creative person in fitness and in general?
I really like to create programs that are going to give my clients the best results. Kind of a blank canvas and you're creating this picture perfect program that will give your athletes a sense of accomplishment. Being creative with exercise ideas is really fun and I love that look my clients give when they see me demo-ing something they've never seen before.