In a time where most people would rather binge watch Netflix original series instead of exercising, how do we avoid ending up like the people confined to chairs in Disney’s “Wall-E?” At one point, I was a dedicated high school swimmer and a sports enthusiast. Like a lot of kids, I grew up playing sports, whether it was competitive or just kicking it around the neighborhood. I went through a skateboarding phase, baseball, swimming, volleyball and the rest of the gamut. But now, like most of those aforementioned kids, none of those sports are my career or are any part of my life.

I don’t watch sports or talk about them or think about them, and other than surfing, I don’t really participate in any either (I’m really selling my credentials and expertise as the author of this article right now). When I look back on my relationship with sports, it’s kind of like looking back at my relationship with women — they’re both dysfunctional and short-lived.

I also don’t go to the gym. So in a world, where I’m not a professional athlete and the gym is like the ninth ring of Dante’s Inferno, how does one stay fit as an adult? Luckily, I recently spoke to some local fitness experts who shared some insight, and they even inspired me in my quest to get outside and sweat.

“The closest I normally get to a court is watching Judge Judy on a lazy afternoon. But, I got out there, I balled … and I balled hard. I broke ankles. I sunk a few in the paint. I laid it up, and I laid it down. All I need to do now is grow three feet (where it counts).” — Spencer Rooney

Jacksonville, as a city, is actually a great place to create and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. It has an abundance of both natural and municipal resources, such as trails, beaches, parks, skate parks, etc., that all encourage people to get out and exercise. Better yet, none of these activities confine anyone to doing the traditional gym thing, which I know can be daunting, because the idea of someone grunting next to me is radically off-putting. But also, if you’re into the gym thing, there are tons of those, too.

So to find out more information on how a sport like surfing can be used as a means of staying healthy, I sat down with Jacksonville Beach pro surfer, certified personal trainer and local fitness expert Cody Thompson, who has made a career out of health science and athleticism. Thompson maintains a balanced regimen between the water and the gym, but implements a unique mentality to gear his fitness toward his craft. Now, he’s sharing this regimen with other people interested in both getting more fit and also progressing in the water.

“I think it’s important that we counterbalance our modern lifestyles — considering how much we sit down and how sedentary we are — with sports, hobbies or physical activities that we’re passionate about,” said Thompson. “My routine is based on the fundamentals of a normal gym routine, but there is a certain emphasis I put toward the idea of making my surfing better — especially with exercises that deal with explosive strength, balance and flexibility.”


The Jacksonville surf scene isn’t privy to an abundance of perfect surf. It’s certainly better than no surf at all, but when the surf is flat, it opens the door to other sports and hobbies for people in the area, such as golf. People like golf. Young people, old people, all walks of life enjoy golf.

Which brings me to my second local fitness expert, Hidden Hills Country Club PGA Professional Russ Libby, who explained the the benefits of playing golf.

“Golf is fitness. It’s an opportunity to get out there and enjoy nature — enjoy fellowship in the company of others. And it’s a great sport that you can play well into your 80s and 90s,” he said. “If you walk 18-holes, you’re going to burn about 1,500 calories.”

Libby also commented on Jacksonville’s status as a golf destination.

“I can’t believe the number of golf opportunities we have here in Jacksonville. We’ve got 60 different golf clubs and different types of facilities that are either public, private or resort right here,” said Libby. “But Jacksonville doesn’t only just have golf, it’s just one part of the equation and it’s a big part, but that’s why I love Jacksonville so much, because it provides so many opportunities to get outside and really enjoy nature and have a lot of fun and stay fit doing it.”

Golf Fail

As a relatively apathetic, pseudo-jaded millennial, let’s be honest … I don’t know if I’m going to go out and play golf or go train to better my surfing. But what I do know is that everyone is very different when it comes to health and fitness, and we can’t just group everyone together in some gym.

Everything — food, alcohol, entertainment — can now be delivered to your doorstep with a few taps of your fingers on your iPhone screen, so now is the time where it’s vital to build a routine that works for you to avoid complacency. I’m the first to admit that I have days where I work from my bed for an entire day and feel like s**t about it, but I’m making a conscious effort of getting better. Every once in awhile, I hop in the car, turn my phone to “Do Not Disturb,” and just go surfing for an afternoon. So do that. I mean not surfing, you don’t have to do that, just turn off and go out.

By Carl Rosen | Staff Writer