Cardiffit Gym, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA

Pro surfer Brad Gerlach lays on his back atop an exercise physio-ball. He reaches back with his arms, catches a 10-pound medicine ball, curls his trunk and then hurls the hefty sphere back to his fitness trainer with fierce determination.

Rob Machado balances on a wobble board while bent over from the hips, his back parallel to the floor and his long lean arms pronated, forcing durnbells upwards, strengthening his rear deltoids and rotator cuffs, those crucial muscles which are the prime movers in paddling.

Gerlach and Machado are working out at Cardiffit located next door to Cardiff Seaside Market.

Cardiffit, which is adorned with boards of pro surfers like Machado and Benji Weatherly, is the official gym of the San Diego Sea Lions, one of the teams in Gerlach’s new creation-the National Surfing League.

The NSL hosts “The Game,” an unconventional surf contest that incorporates conventional team sports rules and traits, such as timeouts, coaches and team play.

Gerlach’s trainer, Michael Kugler, like several other trainers at Cardiffit, is a surfer and has arms the size of a 10-pound medicine ball. A former college football player, Kugler prescribes exercises to Gerlach- former ASP Tour standout-so his core musculature will be strong as steel.

“I love the community vibe of Cardiffit. The trainers are top-notch and really help me stay at peak-performance shape” Gerlach said.

“I think it’s very important for surfers to cross-train so they won’t injure themselves,” added Gerlach, who was ranked 2nd on the pro surf circuit in 1991.

Cardiffit, which doesn’t force members to sign contracts, is a financial supporter of the NSL and offers Sea Lions surfers like Machado free use of the facilities.

Machado’s trainer, Tommy Moring, who is built like a bulldog and capable of squatting 700 pounds, plays rugby and longboards. Another Cardiffit trainer, Ali Araie, has been shredding on a shortboard for over 20 years and is sponsored by Osiris.

Cardiffit general manager Michael Cummings, whose personality is as powerful as his 1,500-pound leg press, said that the gym, during the month of October, donated all the initiation dues to Hurricane Katrina relief organizations.

Members appreciate the low cost of yoga classes. Unlike several Encinitas-area yoga boutiques, which charge as much as $15 per class, Cardiffit offers free unlimited yoga with a membership.

There’s even a free yoga class for seniors- Silver Age Yoga, offered on Fridays. Non-members are welcome to attend.

“Many people complain that when they work out at a gym, they feel like they’re in a fishbowl,” says Cardiffit trainer Rick Sharp. “But at Cardiffit, you feel like you’re part of a family. There’s a connection here among the trainers and members that you don’t get anywhere else in North County.”

Cardiffit, 2085 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff, (760) 634-9740, www.cardiffit.com.

Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.