Cover Story | Fitness

Surf's Up for Fitness

Catching waves with Peter Pan


Name: Peter Pan
Sport: Surfing


  • Varsity cross-country, indoor and outdoor track in high school and college
  • Black belt in Tae Kwon Do
  • Learned to surf at Narragansett Town Beach
  • Competitive surfer for over 30 years

He’s an instructor for Surf Set, Cardio Kickboxing and “Bands and Balls” classes at the South County YMCA and runs a surf shop, Narragansett Surf and Skate, with his daughter. He teaches surfing, stand up paddle boarding (learn about it  here: and snowboarding in the winter in addition to actively participating in surf competitions.

What’s your work out routine?
“I try to work out six out of seven days and cross-train. I run, surf, paddle board and do my group exercise classes. Mixing up activities keeps you in the best condition and injury free.”

How much do you keep up with surfing?
“I usually surf in both amateur and professional surfing competitions about ten times a year. Doing that keeps me out practicing to stay the best that I can be. It also motivates me to go surf in conditions that no one will paddle out in.”

What do you like to do when there are no waves?
“My favorite, no-brains activity is to run, especially on a track. You can zone out, get high and not worry about stepping on dog poop. In the winter, I work at Yawgoo Valley teaching snowboarding. I also love playing basketball. I played in an over-40 league for a few years, but you can get injured by out-of-shape hackers. Ironically, any bad injury I have sustained over the last 30 years was not from surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding or karate – it was from playing organized basketball.”

What does it take to be a surfer?
“You can’t surf if any part of your body is not working 100%: you need to have cardio strength to paddle, upper body strength to paddle and pop up, leg and thigh strength to get up and pump the board, and good balance to stay on the board. This requires rubber bands and specific weight exercises, such as the rowing machine and overhead press for strength and conditioning – but not heavy weight lifting. That is the worst thing you can do for surfing. You need to either run, or use elliptical machines at the gym – not the treadmill, where you are banging your legs on a moving metal plate. Swimming is also a super way to get into shape for surfing.”

Narragansett Surf and Skate Shop, 74 Narragansett Avenue, Narragansett. 789-7890,

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