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Improve your surfing with Cris Mills, founder of Surf Strength Coach

I discovered Cris Mills, the trainer behind Surf Strength Coach, when I was younger, but not surfing yet. I subscribed to his mailing list and I have been receiving his emails ever since. I read his emails but always ended up deleting them as I had a hard time understanding what a surf strength coach is. I was curious—could a coach like Cris truly help you improve your surfing?

Tired of staying in the unknown, I contacted Cris and decided to ask him a few questions concerning his job, his goals and his journey. Read our whole conversation below!

When did you start being a personal trainer specialized in surfing? 

I would say I started 8 or 9 years ago with SUP guys, surfers, and athletes. I was in Sydney for a while, studying in various schools around there and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was thinking of law school, but as you can guess, it never happened. I knew I could train people, so I started to do rehab for people that needed it, and I looked carefully at their movements. I began working exclusively with surfers five years ago.

Why did you choose to train surfers only?

Well, I surf. I wouldn’t say I am a pro, but I can easily see when people surf with a bad posture, and I understand how the body works. So I asked myself, why not combine these two things to improve the performance of any surfers? I help surfers aged between 30 and 55 years old; the ones that are spending too much time in the office and have trouble with their joints. I also do rehabilitation as well.

Would you say your customers are mainly men or women?

The same number of men and women reach me, but mostly men subscribe to my program. I am not quite sure if it’s because of the way I present myself… Times are changing, and the surf world accepts women now, but maybe it can be intimating for a woman to go into the water alone, especially when you start surfing. Maybe that’s why.

Why does your program help surfers?

As surfers, we often focus on skills in the water, but there is more. There are skills in the water, and there is performance. You need to practise both to be at your best, and that’s what I am focusing on. You also need to be healthy, and we all know that the world is a mess right now with all the information that is usually wrong. If you work out all the time but don’t eat well, it won’t be good either.

Is there a difference between training men and women?

There’s no big difference between men and women; I will just focus on different things. Women need more strength in the upper body while men need more flexibility.

How does it work if we want to start training online with you?

I require the person to send me pictures and videos of themselves doing precise movements; then we do a Skype call. They have access to all the workout videos, and they have to film themselves while they are working out so I can observe the way they do it. I give them tips and help them that way. It’s harder online because I can’t directly say comments neither observe precisely which part of their body isn’t working. I often refuse people online because I can’t see them, and they need someone to be physically with them.

Any tips to become better at surfing?

It would be to surf all the time. During your free time, you need to work out to improve your movements, eat healthily and sleep well to recover. You need to develop the skills of surfing and after the techniques—that’s something I say to all my customers.

You are also doing workshops around the world; how does it work?

I usually do them in Sydney and California. Of course, my goal is to do it more, but it takes a lot of time to organize. This year, there were other coaches as well, so the groups were of approximately 20 people. If I am alone, I am trying to take ten people so that I can really focus on each one of them.

Any future goals?

I am happy where I am, but not in Florida forever. I am thinking of going back to school, but the program is ten years long… It’s a hard decision! I am also waiting for my Australian visa, which I really hope I will get. If not, I will have to figure out what I am doing. My friends were thinking of opening an ice-cream shop in Australia maybe. Or maybe a Mexican food restaurant like in California as Aussies doesn’t know what good Mexican food is! No matter what I will do, surf training will always be there.  

Want to get more tips from Cris?
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