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In the universe defined by Roxy board shorts and Dakine flip-flops, surfers are the ultimate paradigm of fitness. They have the acrobatic skills of gymnasts, the physical endurance of long-distance swimmers, the fluidity of dancers — and they do things on water that only Jesus should be able to. Olympic swimmers travel up and down the lane in a straight line, but surfers battle currents in open ocean and get pummeled by waves.
She plops down in a booth with Adams in Abbot’s Habit café, a Venice haunt. It’s the day after her loss at the U.S. Open of Surfing, at Huntington Beach, one of the qualifying contests on the Women’s World Tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). Out at high tide, with only 20 minutes to strut her stuff in a four-person heat, her three other competitors snaked each scarce wave.
“Yeah,” she sighs, “I couldn’t get a wave. It’s a bummer, but I stay focused on the next one.”
The ASP Women’s World Tour takes competitors all over the globe, with stops this year in Brazil, Hawaii, Peru and Brooke’s own native Australia. And it’s not necessarily true that the younger surfers dominate. Brooke, who is 32, talks admiringly about 36-year-old Kelly Slater, the world’s top surfer. “He’s beating all these 18-year-old kids, making them look like amateurs. But he’s a freak.”
Every girl who ever saw Blue Crush will want both of Brooke's Surf Stronger videos, so will every guy who mourns the muffin-top gut slouching over his Speedos. Speaking of Blue Crush, remember that scene where Kate Bosworth and her surfer-girl buddies are running under a high-rise parking lot’s worth of water on the ocean floor while carrying a massive rock? Surfers actually do that.
“That was my friend Michelle,” Brooke says about the scene. “That ispart of the training. I’ve done that. It’s for being stressed. You know, when you’re under the water holding your breath and working your muscles at the same time. It’s for building up lung capacity. It’s pretty hard. I’m pretty crappy at holding my breath.”
How long can you hold your breath?
“Not long enough. I don’t know how I haven’t drowned.”
Brooke likes doing floaters, that sleek little maneuver where you skim the curling top lip of a wave and appear to float for a few seconds. That, and tube riding through a tunnel of water, which imparts a mind-emptying, mesmerizing sensation best described, in Brooke’s words, as “You’re like, woo-hoo!”
The sessions on Brooke’s Core Training can be done by surfers and nonsurfers, beginners and advanced. You follow along with Brooke as she does knee tucks and moves on a giant white pearl of an exercise ball. The videos show you how the actions correspond to actual surf moves — like popping up on your board — with footage of Brooke surfing. Adams believes in strengthening the core (i.e., the part of your body that would be left if sharks chomped off all your limbs) because it’s where every movement originates. The core is your center of power. And Brooke’s core is awesome.
Adams asks her to stand. “See? If I try to push her over, she won’t fall.”
“Are we gym rats?” Brooke says. “I don’t think so. A lot of surfers don’t want to go to the gym. They do cross-training. They don’t want to bulk up. They want to be lean and fast.”
“Surfers would never want to train segmentally, the way a bodybuilder does, and only focus on certain areas,” Adams adds. “You want to do integrative stuff, like squatting, twisting, lunging. Things you do when you surf. You can do it just using your own body weight.”
Since Brooke started doing the workouts, or “functional training,” as she and Adams call it, she can stick more maneuvers.
“Before, I would get bounced off. Not falling is what surfing is about,” she says, sipping an Odwalla orange juice. The cashier who rings up Brooke’s bill checks out her short denim skirt, long tanned legs, taut stomach, and becomes instantly fascinated by her Surf Stronger T-shirt. He may not recognize her, but he knows a hot chick when he sees one.
Surf connoisseurs will know that Brooke surfs in a “classic style.” Coming from Australia, she excels in bigger surf, which opens things up and lets her be more expressive.
“If you have a canvas and you’re drawing waves on it, she draws a smooth and powerful line, like sine waves,” Adams says, moving his hand up and down. “Versus someone who is faster and steeper but a little more off-balance and choppy. They do one move and nothing after it. Serena’s also fluid. She can connect several maneuvers together, one after the other, without stopping.