2012-06-01 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles


DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES A local entrepreneur, Michael Reinhardt, shared with me the many healthy aspects of surfing. Born and raised in Rockaway, Mike is an avid surfer, an accomplished lifeguard and a college graduate with the courage, confidence and enthusiasm to embark on an entrepreneurial endeavor, one that will benefit our locals and those who come here to use our beaches for recreation.

Locals Surf School opened this past weekend on Beach 67 Street. Michael’s partner is Michael Kololyan, a former competitive surfer. During our conversation, I was taken by the commitment to education, a hallmark of their school. In fact, that is what differentiates a school from a camp. A surf school is unlike a surf camp in that you don’t simply drop off the children for a day at the beach and a casual romp in the surf.

Locals Surf School educates you by giving you skills to be respectful of and safe in the water. Michael gave me the analogy that surf school is like driving school. “You don’t simply grab a car and get on the road with no lessons or skills. On the road, if you plan on driving 40 mph, you wouldn’t drive in the left lane out of respect for people who want to drive faster. This is for your safety and for the safety of others. Similarly, surf etiquette demands that as a beginner, you don’t paddle out to a crowded line up where the veteran and local surfers are. You find your own, uncrowded spot and practice your skills there. Out of respect and for safety,” Michael said.

I was duly impressed with the emphasis on respect and safety. In fact, Michael mentioned how the skills they teach will be inculcated with surfer etiquette from garnering respect of your fellow surfers in the water to taking care of the beach by cleaning up after yourself. Respect for the ocean will be taken into account by teaching about currents and riptides along with cautions about when to and when not to surf according to weather conditions.

I am equally impressed with the way in which his plan for generating business has to do with community action; involving all local businesses in promotions and events so that we all share and benefit from each other’s success. This is the soul of not only surfing, but humanity. This is the attitude that breeds success. When we lift one person up, we lift all of us up together. Locals contributing to local economy. What a wonderful idea! Michael told me, “We encourage visitors to come to Rockaway, to stay, eat here and get a full Rockaway experience.”

The health-giving qualities of surfing have long been fascinating for me. Achieving the balance and coordination necessary to get up on the board, and stay there, has been the focus of many an hour spent watching these surfers. And focus is what is necessary to accomplish your goal. Just like it is in life. When we teach these skills in a sport, the lesson goes down a bit easier than when we hammer it home in a classroom. The classroom of life holds more intrigue, the element of adventure. There is no substitute for experiential learning. As Michael so aptly put it, “At Locals Surf School, the customer gets the full experience of what it is like to be a surfer.”

Developing your body to have the strength and stamina that a surfer needs encourages training and exercise. Michael will teach these skills as well as carry on surf training classes throughout the off-season. Good nutrition generally ensues as we come to understand that good food yields good stamina. And it’s corollary, too much alcohol consumption intereferes with balance and coordination, strength and stamina and focus.

The soul of surfing is captured in that ineffable feeling that one gets when you are part of something bigger than yourself. It is the old story of man against nature; conquering the elements. “It is a feeling that one simply cannot put into words. You have to feel it, the sensation of being one with the ocean is sublime”, says veteran local surfer Skylar Ritwo.

This connection to nature and the awesome feeling that it invokes is one of the gifts that our beloved Rockaway offers us. When our local boys become men and want to honor this by beginning a business that will teach us and others how to experience our beaches with respect; build mind, body and soul through surfing, I give them my blessing. Whenever there is an entrepreneurial spirit emerging, I give it my support. Whenever that spirit involves community consciousness, I give it my encouragement and my business. That said, you might just have a “Dr. Nancy sighting” on a board!

Check out the website for details of the Grand Opening featuring Blessing of the Boards by yours truly and a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring our “local” representatives.

Contact: 718-869-9803

E-mail: info@localssurfschool.com www.localssurfschool.com.

Facebook.com/localssurfschool

May The Blessings Be!

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