Paul Norris – Building a Surfer

Paul Norris is known as THE surf trainer in Huntington Beach, CA. As the co-owner and founder of Extreme Athletics he has developed a system of creating some of the best surfers in the world….inside the walls of the gym. Paul works with athletes like Courtney Conlogue and Kanoa Igarashi who are both at the top of the game. He also works with Nolan Rapoza, Micheal Dunphy, Daz and Finn McGill, Tyler Gunther, Bailey Nagy and Reika Noro.

We caught up with Paul to find out just what it takes to train these athletes and what is most important when building a surfer.

How did you come to be the “surf” personal trainer?

I started training athletes in college as in intern with the Strength & Conditioning department while I was getting my degree in Exercise Science. I really enjoyed training collegiate athletes and got to work with all of the sports teams. From there, I took my passion for training and pursued a job as a strength coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team. While doing that, I got a job as a sports performance coach for Velocity Sports Performance in Tampa, FL. I learned how to train athletes in all aspects of strength training, power training, agility and running mechanics. For my last semester of college, I had to complete an internship and decided that I wanted to transfer to the Velocity Sports in Irvine, CA. That was over 10 years ago. About six months after I relocated, I met some local surf pros and basically just started training them and putting them thru what I considered to be “surf training.” Did that for six years and then decided to open Extreme Athletics with my business partner, Jon Brown.

What do you offer surfers at your facility?

We offer individualized training and classes. Ages anywhere from 12-60 years old. Each class is an hour long and we focus on just about everything. We start with a 15-20 dynamic flexibility warm-up which helps increase our athlete’s mobility and flexibility. From there we work on power, strength, agility and muscular endurance. Essentially we give our athletes the tools to catch more waves, surf stronger and longer.

How is training someone for surf different than training a regular person for general fitness?

This is the most popular question we get! Every sport requires different principals and specific demands. Surfers don’t need to be big and muscular or to be able to sprint fast like football or basketball players. If you watch someone surf or have ever surfed yourself; you know that balance is a huge requirement. You can also probably guess that surfers need to have strong powerful legs as well as a strong core. So essentially we do a lot of balance training, dynamic stability work, plyometrics, rotational training and some muscular endurance training. We call that sport specific training. Our training is completely different from what most people are used to seeing and that makes it fun.

What is the best part about working with surfers?

For one, everyone in our gym surfs. We all connect on the same level and always have something to talk about, whether it be the swell that’s coming in or surf trips coming up that people are training for. We have built this awesome community of surfers and everyone is always stoked when they’re here. On the training side, our program design is different from standard sports so implementing fun and cool exercises always makes it interesting. Plus surfers are always stoked which makes our job that much more fun.

What are some of the challenges?

Well when the waves are firing, the gym is slow!
I guess one of the biggest challenges is trying to convince surfers that they should actually be training to get better, not just surfing all of the time. The misconception has always been that surfers should just surf to get better, but now we’re seeing that slowly change and the new up and comers are starting to train a lot more which is exciting.

Do you work with these athletes on fuel and nutrition?

We do. We talk to our clients about hydrating and proper nutrition as well as supplements. We make recommendations to them and give them advice on best supplements to take for their specific goals. Nutrition plays such a huge part in performance so I believe athletes should be using the best nutritional products on the market. And in my opinion, Progenex is the best stuff out there. They care so much about the quality of their product, and it shows in the results. Carbs are essential to performance and you need that natural energy boost that they give you, especially when trying to get thru a grueling workout. That’s why I really love the Build product that Progenex makes. Piggy backing off that, protein is crucial to building muscle and that’s why I take the Progenex Recovery, as it makes me feel like a new man hours later. As sports performance coaches, we owe it to our clients to recommend the best nutritional products out there.

Extreme Athletics:

Sponsored by: Zico Coconut Water, TRX, Rip Curl, Indo Boards, Progenex
Have been featured on/in: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness Magazine, Muscle and Fitness Magazine,, Grind TV, Voted Top 7 gyms in Orange County

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