Written on March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
Life-altering events can happen quite unexpectedly, this we all know. Sometimes they’re amazingly good occurrences (like nailing that CrossFit move you’ve been working on forever), and other times, there are tragic things that happen, often begging the question, ‘why me?’ For elite athletes and thrill seekers, tragedy can be exceptionally devastating; ripping away the things you’ve spent your life aspiring to. But to overcome adversity is a show of true strength. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton knows just what I’m talking about. In 2003 she lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack, but didn’t let that stop her. A mere month later, Hamilton returned to the water and went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She shared her story with the world in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. And then of course came the 2011 film based on the book, which caused the nation to fall even more in love with the blonde beach babe.
Now, Hamilton is back in an EPIX original documentary, The Current, premiering tonight at 8 p.m. EST. She’ll share her story along with five other athletes with disabilities who explore the deep wonders of the ocean and the healing freedoms it can supply.
We caught up with Bethany to talk about her workouts, surfing career and what it was like to be a part of The Current.
The Current is mainly based on the idea of using the healing powers of water and the ocean as a way to rediscover the freedom of movement. Can you tell us about that? What is about the ocean or water that has helped you?
I believe God’s given us the ocean and the outdoors as a place of healing. I remember when I first started surfing [again] after losing my arm, everyone was like, ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ But for me, I was more scared of not surfing and not being able to spend time where I love to be most: in the ocean. So that was kind of just the start of my whole recovery. And even to this day, when things are getting stressful it’s nice to be able to get in the ocean. I don’t know, everything can kind of just melt away and you can just get out there and enjoy creation.
Did you get the chance to meet any of the other athletes? What was it like to hear their stories?
I got to spend time with Grant Korgan [the first adaptive athlete to ski 80 miles in the South Pole]. He was in a snowmobiling accident and just got annihilated, and broke his spine. He’s been told he’s never going to walk again, but he’s slowly getting feeling back [in his legs] and he’s just working endlessly to recover his body. It’s been pretty incredible to get to know him and his wife and their story, their perseverance. We went scuba diving and got to experience some of the most beautiful places in the underwater world. It was pretty incredible.
Written on September 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Back in 2004, the nation was rocked by the story of Bethany Hamilton: a year earlier, at only 13 years old, the young surfer was attacked by a tiger shark and lost her left arm. Did that stop her from chasing her dreams? No way. After her surgeries, she popped back up and started winning competitions, placing first in the 2005 NSSA National Championships a year after her attack! She’s gone on to place in numerous competitions, has a movie about her journey (Soul Surfer), and a book so you can hear how it all happened, from her point of view.
With all of her success came a lot of press. Not content with her smile, Bethany was soon under the care of the Damon System, who turned her pearly whites into a show-stopping grin. We stopped by a recent event Damon hosted with Bethany to see her smile shine in person, and to find out who’s inspired her lately.
Surfing can be intimidating. What advice do you have for people who are testing the waters for the first time?
First of all, surfing is one of the most exhilarating sports, and I recommend everyone get out there and give it a go. A few tips that can really build up your confidence:
- Focus on just swimming first. Build up your confidence in being able to swim before you bring the board into the picture. That way, once you’re in the ocean, you’re fine. Whatever happens, you know you can swim.
- Work on balance, as well as both lower and upper body strength. Think about how exercises in the gym, like burpees, can translate into helping you surf. You need strength to be able to pop up onto the board.
- It’s really important to get instruction your first time because it’s a very tricky sport, and you need to learn to understand the ocean. So just having someone there to watch and instruct you can help because they can correct you and it’s a safety net – you know someone has your back.
- Start small. Try little waves and use a big longboard – both make it easier. After teaching surfing to some of the contestants on season 13 of The Biggest Loser, I’m confident everyone can get out there and try it. Every one of them did such a great job.
I watched that episode of The Biggest Loser and it looked like so much fun! What was that experience like for you?
Oh my gosh, it was so exciting! It was one of the coolest TV show experiences I’ve had. And I definitely would never think of any of them as “losers.” I had a blast with the whole gang.