Kicking My Own Butt Surfing Is One of the Best Things I've Done This Year

I lived in the Bahamas until I was 3 years old, then grew up 10 minutes from the beach in sunny South Florida. And while I knew a few boys who were into surfing, Florida doesn't have the surf culture of California or Hawaii where big waves reign supreme. Despite the 27 years on this Earth I've spent calling myself a beach bum, I didn't actually attempt surfing until a few weeks ago.

WSL | Sean Rowland

I was lucky enough to be a guest at the Swatch Women's Pro Trestles in Orange County, CA, and after talking to impressive pros like Courtney Conlogue, Coco Ho, and Sofia Mulánovich, I was ready to head out into the water. I'm comfortable in the ocean, am a certified yoga teacher, and consider myself to be a strong and athletic woman, so I expected that popping up on my board would be a breeze. Right? Wrong.

I walked down to the beach with two other women and three handsome surfers in their early 20s. The guys broke down the basics, telling us the conditions were just about as rough as they would take three newbies out in. Soon after that, one of the women on our trip backed out, so it was just me and one other brave soul who headed out into the waves. She popped up on her first try. Me? Not so much. I couldn't get the fluidity of the motion down, and my timing was just always a little off. After about 15 spills, I was exhausted, but on one of my last attempts, I was able to stand up on the board for five glorious seconds. The exhilaration I felt — no matter how brief — was well worth the embarrassment of falling and getting all that water that flew up my nose.

I get it. This story may not feel very accessible to you, especially if you don't have a beach vacation planned in the near future. But it's my humble opinion that my experience is applicable to just about every new unknown fitness challenge you take on. It's so easy to stay comfortable, but turning up the resistance a little higher in your indoor-cycling class, grabbing a set of heavier weights, going one extra mile farther than you've ever run, or getting up on a surfboard for a few moments are not naturally occurring accomplishments. They happen because you're willing to test your limits and aren't concerned with the possibility of failure. My takeaway? Don't be afraid to fall, literally or figuratively. Without risk, there's no juicy reward.