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Finding balance – both on the surfboard and in the game of life

Huntington Beach US Surfing Open
Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely via Compfight

Our substitute teacher today is Nick Holt, a fitness guru and surfer based in Costa Rica. Nick has traded the high-rise office view for the beach training ground in Costa Rica where he teaches fitness, surfing, tennis, and yoga.

Find Balance – both in and out of the water

One of the most important things in life is balance. As a athlete, personal trainer, and surfer, I spend a lot of time working with people to improve their balance. But for today I’m going to dive a little deeper and take a more holistic view about balance. Having good balance is critical for the body, especially for a sport like surfing, but also for every other aspect of our lives. To become a better surfer, tennis player, yogi, or just a better person, we need to learn more than just how to maintain our center of gravity on an unstable surface. We need to learn how to live in balance. And when I think of balance, I consider three areas where its presence is crucial: Body, Nutrition, and Lifestyle.


The body is the vehicle that enables all movement. We must start with a well-balanced body. Most musculoskeletal problems come from some sort of imbalance in our tissue, joints, or muscle. So the idea is to create a balance of muscle and tissue in the body, striving for symmetry in all ways. The left side should be equal in strength, function and flexibility to the right side. The upper body should be equally strong as the lower body. The front and back sides of the body should be well balanced too. If you can do a bunch of push-ups, you should be able to do pull-ups as well.

A well-balanced body keeps us healthy and injury-free. Most of us have a weak link in our body that creates some kind of asymmetry. It sometimes prohibits us from being as active as we would like to be. So we need to take the time to focus on that weak link and work on it. Many times it is hard for people to see their own weak links and it is a good idea to hire a personal trainer, chiropractor or physical therapist to help identify them.

The functional movement screen (FMS) is a great resource for assessing imbalances in movement patterns. Knowledge is power. Find that weak link or have someone else find it for you and then work to improve it and bring your body back into balance.


Balance in the kitchen is critical. Learning the art of balanced nutrition is not always easy, but it’s crucial for longevity, vitality, and overall health. Every body is different and thus different foods work in a different way for all of us. Listen to your body and find the type of foods that will provide the right nutrients for you. At the same time remember that eating must be fun. Eat with pleasure, not with guilt. The reality is that most diets simply don’t work in the long run. So, it’s not about dieting or restricting your food consumption. It’s about discovering what works and what doesn’t work for your body. Then follow what works most of the time, let’s call it 80-90% of the time. The other 10-20%, indulge. Enjoy. Have your cake. Eat it. And then get back to eating clean. If you become attuned to your body and pay attention to it, you will find the right balance between eating healthy and enjoying the food you put in your mouth. It’s not that complex. It’s about moderation and balance.

Nutrition is by far the largest and most important aspect of fitness. Sometimes I see clients and friends who try to out-train a bad diet. Training harder and longer will not offset bad eating habits. So unless you won the genetic lottery, find balance in the kitchen and enjoy your relationship with food.


And last and maybe most importantly, it’s all about balance of work and play in our lives. But we often forget about that as most of the time we are too busy to stop and reconsider our values and priorities. Most people think they want more from life – more money, a better job, a new car…The list go on. But at what cost?? Research has shown that after a certain minimum level, accumulation of material wealth doesn’t really give us any more happiness. So, the idea is finding that sweet spot where you work hard and make money, but not at the expense of your body, soul and loved ones.

If you sit a lot at a desk, start standing and moving around a little more. Add mini breaks into your day where you stand up and walk around. As humans, we’re designed to move around, not sit down. Don’t fight biology on this one. Find ways to get up more and be a little more active.

Finding balance in your life is about making the right decisions. Stop listening to the voices of peers, media, and our culture constantly yelling at us about what we should or shouldn’t do. Make your own decisions based on your personal beliefs, values and needs.

After all, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a surfer looking to improve your skills, a stay at home mom hoping to stay pain free, or just an average person who wants to look a little better naked. Balance is the key to unleashing greatness from within and becoming more attuned to your body.

Balance is a skill, but also an approach. Let’s think about this distinction and work to incorporate it more in our lives. I’d love to hear from you and how you’ve managed to restore balance in your life.

To find out more about Nick, check out his website here and his weekly online workouts. And if you make it down to the sunny, warm water of Tamarindo, Costa Rica make sure to contact Nick to maximize your vacation.

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