Surfing for 21 Days Straight!
You know me and how I love my challenges. I am a member of a group here in LA called Silicon Beach Surfers. It’s a group of people who work in media, technology, and entertainment and love to surf. Jess Kantor is a local LA surfer and Silicon Beach Surf member. I learned about her 21 day Surf Challenge through the group and thought it was pretty darn cool. 21 straight days of surfing? I think my arms would fall off. I was very interested in learning more about Jess’ experience and she kindly agreed to let me interview her. She is a true definition of Fit and Awesome – just check out her video below. And wither further ado, here’s Jess!
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Goodness. Talking about myself is rough. I seem to compartmentalize different areas of my life. By day I work for an artist focused non-profit focusing on digital marketing and original content. By morning and weekend I’m an avid surfer and by evenings, well I try to cook but I’m pretty exhausted.
2. How long have you been surfing? How’d you get into it?
I’ve been surfing about 18 months – started July 2012. I wrote a little blog post about my inspiration, but long story short it started one day summer of 2012 when I started training for a triathlon and went to Coney Island for my first open water swim. I was terribly nervous because I hadn’t been in the ocean for close to 15 years. That was the summer before my 30th Birthday. I realized that day that I loved the ocean and the following weekend convinced a friend to join me for a surf lesson in the Rockaways (Queens, NY.) There was almost a two month window between my first lesson and second. But after the second lesson, I was in the water almost every weekend until Hurricane Sandy hit.
3. What motivated you to do the 21 days of surfing challenge?
I had been traveling a lot for work Dec- Feb and realized I had a 3 to 4 week window in Los Angeles. I started getting a little frustrated with some things at work and wanted to channel my energy into something positive. I also felt like I was in a rut with my surfing. I was a ballet dancer in my teenage years and know that when you’re consistent you improve. It is a matter of muscle memory, strength, endurance and getting comfortable in all types of condition. On day 1, I decided, what if I did 21 days, attached my GoPro and really pushed myself in the water every day to see what would happen. By blogging it and inviting friends to get involved, I found it harder to sleep in and blow off the challenge. I really wouldn’t have completed it without the support of my friends. At the beginning I had an ambitious goal of a front side snap, which I didn’t achieve. Though in the middle of the challenge I realized just surfing every day is a challenge in itself.
4. Sometimes the waves are stormy or too big or flat. Did any days like that happen during your challenge? How did you handle them?
The conditions really varied. Only one day I opted to not get in, as I didn’t think it was safe. Though I showed up so my friend gave me the hall pass. Both the day before and the day after were really challenging conditions. Lots of wind chop and current and I had some trouble figuring out where the wave was breaking. But, I felt it was worth it cause just being out there helps me learn to navigate the ocean a little better.
I also found it intimidating to surf alone. I know a few people in the line up now that I’m a regular but I still prefer to have a friend or two with me. And I did every day but one. I have learned when its super low tide or too big in the morning to go up to Sunset blvd. Bay St. or any beach break can be super fast and close out on low tide and big days.
I also learned that it is really hard to improve on a beach break. The wave varies so much that a point would allow for some consistency.
5. What are some of your biggest takeaways from the challenge?
The biggest take away is that I love to surf. And I really want to keep on surfing everyday. (Since 21 I took two days off and have surfed every day since) Currently the way my life is set up makes waking up early and dawn patrolling an exhausting feat. I like my job a lot, so I’m not about to do something drastic like quit so I can surf everyday but hopefully some small things like moving to the west side, taking some trips, can make it less of a challenge to surf more often (and in better waves.) As for improving as a surfer, I learned it just takes time. My goal is to learn how to have maximum fun in any type of condition.
6. What’s next for Jess? How do you plan to take your experience and apply it to everyday life?
What’s next is that I’m going to keep on surfing. I definitely think the best take away is to always love the journey. What does it matter if I did a front side snap nor not. I got to surf every freaking day.
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
This challenge was way more rewarding than I expected. I kind of arbitrarily made it up based on a time I knew I could complete. Felt a little selfie obsessed looking at the GoPro footage. BUT friends started coming out of the woodwork on Facebook and Twitter supporting the journey, surfing with me so I wouldn’t have to surf alone and telling me that I was inspiring them to get in the water. Well that was unexpected and completely rad.
I even set a few friends up with Sean Tully of Mindfulrider.com as he has been my surf guide since I moved to LA. One of the few people I’d trust to teach my friends about surfing. He’s an incredible surfer himself and has been immensely helpful in teaching me how to have fun in every condition: whether it is helping find some shore break, reminding me to bring my longboard on smaller day or giving me the courage to assert myself in the line up. I highly recommend anyone as an adult that’s interested in surfing, find an instructor. Even if it is just for one or two lessons, it keeps you and the people around you safe in the water.