Kanoa Igarashi recently won the Silver Medal at the Olympics. As part of surfing’s debut on the world’s largest sporting stage, the Japanese surfer attained an incredible goal, representing his country and shining in challenging conditions.
But the road to the Olympics was a long one for Kanoa. He was born in California and has trained in Southern California for many years. He first learned how to surf when he was three years old and won his first surfing trophy at age 7.
In the video, Paul and Kanoa both continue the discussion on what training is and how it’s benefited Igarashi’s career and life.
By 2016, he earned a spot on the World Surf League Championship Tour and was the youngest rookie that year. He won the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in his hometown of Huntington Beach in both 2017 and 2018 and collected his first WSL CT victory, the Corona Bali Protected, in 2019.
But behind Kanoa’s success has been a training regimen. He’s worked with Paul Norris, owner of Surf Ready Fitness, for many years. Igarashi admits that he didn’t always enjoy the workouts. “I remember in my head feeling like ‘Dude, this guy is so annoying,’” he says. “I like doing medicine ball stuff. I like doing the easy stuff. Then, all of a sudden, he’s making me correct my form, my posture doing my push-ups.”
Paul explains how they’ve worked together: “Yeah, I think our relationship has evolved over the years and we went through a lot of different stages. I was a strength coach. And you didn’t like it. As you matured, we started seeing similarities that we liked, like music and sneakers, and we started vibing on a different level.” Igarashi continues on how the relationship has changed: “You went from mentor to friend to big brother to now I consider you a really good friend of mine. Obviously, you’re my trainer, but also a mentor.”
As the relationship and training evolved, Norris worked on exercises that would help Kanoa in specific ways. “We’ve been training so long I think one of the biggest things that I wanted to instill in you was why are we working on these things? How is it going to help you in the water?”
Igarashi has seen the benefits of the training. “At the U.S. Open in 2018, when I won, there were a million things going on in my mind. There’s that moment where there were two minutes left and it’s my last opportunity to get the score. I did this pretty big blow tail and as I landed, I remember this weird moment where I flashed back to the gym and I could hear your voice saying: ‘engage your core, activate, stabilize and ride out,’ and a little muscle memory came to me. My body knew it was such a big moment and I was like, ‘this is what you trained for.’ And I landed it, got the score, and that’s what training is for.”