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'Surfilates' Program Brings Best of Pilates to the Surfboard

By Mathew Katz | March 14, 2013 7:09am

HELL’S KITCHEN — When Kim Kuznitz first hit the waves five years ago, she thought surfing would be no big deal, especially since she’s been training her core as a Pilates instructor for two decades.

But surfing was gnarlier than she thought, and all of her experience with Pilates couldn’t prepare her for the hardest part of it all.

“My paddling was weak,” she said. “So I started playing around with what you can do to prepare for surfing in a Pilates studio.”

Out of those experiments came Surfilates, Kuznitz’s program at Bent Pilates at 754 Ninth Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen, where students come to mix the core-blasting power of Pilates with the full-body workout of surfing.

Unlike some other surfing workouts, Surfilates doesn’t use high-tech devices. Instead, Kuznitz built small surfboards out of plywood, and balances them on rubber inflatable discs.

"We do all the mat work of Pilates, but while balancing on a board," she said.

Students simulate waves by holding weighted balls while they paddle, which Kuznitz said develops the muscles needed to paddle out into the most intense of waves. By working on balance poses on the board, students can get the core strength they need to stand up in the surf.

The hourlong class costs $40 for a one-time drop-in, but the price drops to $35 if you buy a 10-pack of passes. Each class typically has no more than six people. It's so popular, it will also run on Mondays at Williamsburg's Bluming Studio starting in April.

Kuznitz said the class attracts both experienced surfers, newcomers and experienced Pilates-lovers looking for a new challenge.

"It's fun, it's just like Pilates on crack," said Josephine Dorado, 43, who started Surfilates a few months ago after spending years practicing Pilates.

"It's more of a challenge, it amps it right up."

Dorado said she tried to surf years ago, but had trouble standing up on the board. Since starting Surfilates, she said she has the confidence — and strength — to hit the real waves.

"I'm definitely interested in doing it on actual water," she said.

Kuznitz said she plans to bring regular students to her favorite local surfing haunts, like Long Beach and Far Rockaway, for both beachfront classes using her Pilates-surfboards and to hit real waves.

"We're planning organized trips to do both, so people can see that this really works," she said.