Joe Surf: New training facility opens

Competitive surfers these days are looking for an edge.

Whether they're in high school or already surfing on the world stage, they want to get better. And believe it or not, there's a way to improve without even getting wet.

Paul Norris and Jon Brown promise they can make it happen. Last month they opened the doors to Extreme Athletics, a surf-specific training facility in Costa Mesa that is open to anyone who surfs and even those who are just thinking about it.

Norris, 31, and Brown, 29, are surfers who know a little about how the body works — Norris has a degree in exercise science and Brown has a degree in kinesiology.

Both have worked as personal trainers for high-level surfers like Brett Simpson, Courtney Conlogue, Andrew Doheny, Trevor Thornton, Brad Ettinger and Anthony Petruso, and finally decided to take the dive into business.

They made the commitment one day at 54th Street in Newport.

"It was when we were out there surfing, sitting out in the lineup, discussing where we wanted to go with our profession," Brown said. "We were training surfers at the time but we wanted to go off on our own to train these guys. We were involved with a different company but we wanted to work for ourselves. Like a lot of people, we wanted to branch out on our own."

It made sense. More and more athletes of all ages are now seeking physical training that is specific to their sport. Surfing is no different.

"I see all action sports going that way," Brown said. "The level of competition has risen to a level where you have to be training for your sport to be competitive. Especially with surfing, getting your fins out, and the aerials, the maneuvers they're doing today, you can't go out there and just surf anymore."

Extreme Athletics has 2,500 square feet of space inside and another 5,000 square feet outside in an industrial complex, but you won't find a ton of equipment. It's all "functional fitness" equipment, Norris said.

They do have an Olympic lifting station, but the facility is full of a mish-mash of kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, bosu balls, physio balls, and bands for flexibility and stretching.

"We do power training, we do strength training, we do a lot of rotational exercises," Norris said. "All of the exercises will involve the core; surfing is very core-based. You're using your core the entire time so a lot of the stuff we do is on your feet, or one leg. We never have anyone doing an exercise when they're sitting down because that takes their core out of the picture."

Norris grew up surfing in Florida and came out here six years ago. Brown is from Bakersfield but often came down to Orange County to visit his brother and surf, and eventually moved here.

Both said that combining their passions for surfing and physical fitness led them to form their business partnership.

"Going to work and getting to do what you love, that's exciting," Brown said.

It might not have been all fun and games early on, though. The two decided to build the business as cheaply as possible, so they did almost everything themselves.

"We put in our own money," Norris said. "We didn't want to borrow money and we didn't want to have investors. We just kind of bootstrapped the entire thing.

"We gutted the warehouse, installed pull-up bars, made our own plyometric boxes, installed the flooring, poured concrete. We didn't outsource anything."

While Norris and Brown have experience training some big-name surfers, the pros' busy travel schedules don't allow them to train consistently in the same place. So Norris and Brown are working more and more with high school surfers.

"We really want to get ahold of the kids in high school who really want to get to the next level," Norris said. "And also the younger kids who are just starting to surf, who are maybe 10 to 12 and just starting to come into their own."

Surfers from the local high schools who have competitive surf teams — like Edison, Marina, Huntington Beach, Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar and Estancia — are starting to take a look at Extreme Athletics. And Norris says anyone is welcomed to try them out free for a week.

Some top local surfers who have already discovered Extreme Athletics are Bryce Marino and Austin Ortiz of Edison and Aryn Farris of Marina. Tyler Gunther, who is only 12 but is considered by many to be OC's next great surfer, also trains there.

For more information on Extreme Athletics, visit, call (714) 915-9635, or email



They held the 2012 NSSA Interscholastic California State Championships last weekend at the HB Pier with solid 3- to 5-foot surf.

San Diego State (college), San Clemente (high school) and Shorecliffs (middle school) won their respective team divisions, with other local schools also in the hunt.

In the high school division, Huntington Beach High followed winner San Clemente in second place and Edison was third. Newport Harbor was seventh and Marina eighth.

In the middle school division, Dwyer finished in second place and Sowers was sixth. Sowers also had a "B" team that took 12th.

Individually, Breyden Taylor of San Clemente won the boys high school division, and his teammate Colton Overin took third. Bryce Marino of Edison took fifth and Jack Boyes of Huntington Beach took sixth.

In the girls high school division, San Clemente's Tia Blanco took first, and Newport Harbor's Shelby Detmers took fifth.

In the high school longboard division, Jachin Hamborg of Edison took second, Casey Powell of San Clemente took third, Tony Bartovich of Huntington Beach took fourth, and Tanner Martinez of Marina took sixth.

In middle school boys, Tyler Killeen of Dwyer took fifth, and in middle school girls, Julianne Hernandez of Sowers took first, Samantha Cendro of Dwyer took fifth and Francheska Besa of Sowers took sixth.

In middle school longboard, Dwyer's Jeremy Guilmette took second, and Sowers' Conner Dawson took fourth.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at

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