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Where to Surf in San Francisco Without Getting Wet

San Francisco Surfset Sweat Republic

Photo courtesy of Sweat Republic, Copyright Sweat Republic

Bay Area residents need not jump into the glacial waters of the Pacific to get the experience (and fitness benefits) of surfing, thanks to SurfSET. As seen on countless TV shows this year, SurfSET is a group fitness class that simulates the physical challenges of riding waves without the ocean, so you can enjoy a lean surfer-babe physique—toned upper body, rippling abs, and strong legs—without ever having to slip on a wetsuit.

Only an esteemated 150 gyms offer SurfSET in the United States, and three of them are right here in the Bay Area: The Bay Club, Crunch Polk Street, and Sweat Republic, which offers the most Surfset classes of any studio in Northern California. 

The key to SurfSET is the RipSurferX, a modified surfboard propped atop three rubber playground balls secured in a stationary stand. Brace for rolling swells when you step on the board; the balls make it as unstable as if it was floating on water. Even the most basic movements require coordination and strength to balance until you get your sea legs. 

Once you master staying upright, you’ll do almost everything on the board that a real surfer would; exhaust your arms paddling out to sea, work your chest duck diving beneath gnarly waves, engage your quads squatting to cutback on a wave—and even, yes, occasionally wipe out. It’s all part of the tubular SurfSET experience.

“It’s a 50-minute, total body workout,” explains Jason Root, fitness manager and instructor at Sweat Republic, a boutique group fitness studio in the Marina. He says SurfSET strengthens muscles, burns calories and increases cardiovascular endurance. In the six months since Sweat Republic opened its doors, SurfSET has become one of its most in-demand classes. Root attributes the class’s popularity to its unique blend of high-energy exercise and interactive entertainment.

As the Beach Boys blasted over the stereo system at a recent Sweat Republic SurfSET class, barefoot students “caught waves” by popping up from plank position to a deep, upright stance atop the board. Even sharks (fake, of course) would swim by now and then, forcing the surfers to balance on one foot in order to kick them away.

Students later jumped off their boards for a cardio interval and jogged down the “beach,” which the instructor warned was full of dangerous debris. Sunbathers, jellyfish, and sand castles were all spotted and enthusiastically leapt over. “Broken glass,” hollered one student. Instead of having the class jump over it, the instructor halted the jog and commanded students to squat down low to the sand, twisting to the left to scoop up the broken glass by their side, then straightening up and twisting to the right to deposit it into recycling.

You can take the surfboard out of the water, but you can’t take San Francisco out of SurfSET. 

Where to catch the wave:

Sweat Republic (2184 Greenwich Street)

Class offered at least once a day

$25 for a single class, less with package

The Bay Club

Available at San Francisco, Financial District, SF Tennis, Silicon Valley, and Marin campuses

Class offered various days depending on campus

Free to members. Guests of members may take class with purchase of $30 day pass 

Crunch Polk Street (2330 Polk Street)

Class not on current schedule

Free to members, Requires purchase of $25 day pass for non-members