A passion for healthy living and the close proximity of Southern California’s sweeping coastline have made the Golden State a mecca for innovative beach and water workouts – many of which are headlining fitness in the new year.

From exercises conceived in California to those from England and Spain, water-inspired fitness routines are engaging athletes alongside popular landlocked workouts like crawling and the return of classic boxing. And now that combination classes and high-impact interval training have spread from the fitness studio to the beach, workouts are more dynamic than ever before.

After several years in the spotlight, paddleboard yoga is perhaps the most well-known fitness routine on the ocean – and with good reason. Finding your balance during yoga practice is essential, and the added instability of the paddleboard on the water challenges your core to work harder while improving strength and flexibility.

Lulu Berton, who teaches her Invincible-Spirit Yoga class in the sand in front of Malibu Beach Inn, also points to its spiritual value: “Practicing in nature is the best way of approaching the yoga practice… The ocean symbolizes the nature element of water and the vastness of the infinity of consciousness.”

Along the coast of Malibu, there are a number of lagoons and calm bays perfect for beginners to paddleboard yoga, including Malibu Lagoon and the sheltered Leo Carillo State Park.

Paddleboard Fitness

But yoga is far from the only way to exercise on a paddleboard. You can also tone your muscles in paddleboard pilates or during a paddleboard fitness class.

In Malibu, Cove Paddle Fitness focuses on creative ways to achieve a high-intensity workout while paddleboarding, adding strength-building practices to something that you may already have a natural feel for. They also offer a monthly combination class with Empower Pilates Malibu, which includes an hour of pilates on the beach followed by an hour of paddling in a picturesque location such as the waters around Malibu Pier.

But traditional athletes hoping to transition to fitness on the water may enjoy the AquaBase, a rectangular-shaped board by AquaPhysical that can be tethered in place. (In order to best secure the board, using it in a pool is recommended.)

The board is used in FloatFit classes, which are popular throughout Europe and only recently popping up in the United States. Similar to a paddleboard, participants use core muscles to balance while performing planks, lunges, mountain climbers, and other exercises traditionally carried out on a mat. The fight to stay afloat engages the entire body, targeting even more areas than a stationary workout.

AquaPhysical AquaBase floating board for fitness

Photo credit: AquaPhysical.com

There are also the classic workouts on the sand, such as boot camps, yoga, and do-it-yourself exercises, that will always be popular in beachfront towns like Malibu. In the early morning, the beaches are deserted with the exception of fellow athletes taking advantage of the day – offering a tranquil setting for your workout.

“Practicing by the ocean is a very healing experience for the body as you get to inhale negative ions which are very beneficial,” says Berton of her yoga classes on Carbon Beach. “It’s also good for the mind, as the waves in the ocean can symbolize the stream of thoughts in our minds and the bottom of the ocean symbolizes our peace of mind.”

The intimate sessions are complimentary for Malibu Beach Inn guests, and for groups of five or fewer, the classes are tailored to individual needs from invigorating workouts to easy stretches in view of the Pacific.

With each class, Berton hopes to “uplift, empower, and awaken each student to who they truly are.”