Meet Trainer Ry Steinhoff, Filipe Toledo's Comeback Plan

Daniel Jenks

Filipe Toledo's injury on the Gold Coast has forced him to withdraw from the next two events, and for someone as active as Toledo, injuries can be tough. While he'll undoubtedly require some physical therapy before his training begins again, he'll certainly be hitting the gym before he hits the water. And whether he's at home or on the go Ry Steinhoff of Foundation Fit is Toledo's go-to-guy when it comes to staying battle ready beyond the water.

Toledo's Awkward Fall
After falling awkwardly during an attempted air in the Semifinals, Toledo suffered a groin injury and has withdrawn from Bells and Margaret River.

We caught up with Steinhoff to find out how he got hooked into the elite surf scene and get some tips on how you, too, can stay fit when the waves are flat.

Filipe Toledo x Foundation Fit
Filipe Toledo works with Ry Steinhoff at Foundation Fit between competitions back home in San Clemente. Video: Foundation Fit SC.

WSL: What's your background?
Ry Steinhoff: I was a firefighter for 8 years prior to my fitness and coaching career. While I was on the job I was in a fire and fell 5 stories. I was life-flighted to the nearest hospital and when I woke up I was in traction. I had broken my back in 2 spots. The first thing the doctors told me was that not only would I, "never be able to run again", but I would also have trouble walking. As my supposed reality began to sink in, my nurse asked me if I was a firefighter - I told her I was. She said, "Well, are you going to fight or flight??"

In that moment I made the choice to take action to get my life back. They prescribed one-hour of physical therapy a day - so I did 4 to 5 hours instead. I basically lived at the personal training and physical therapy office. So much so that I began to learn the ins and outs of the fitness world - the world I live in today. I soon after got certified as a personal trainer.

Filipe Toledo goes vertical in the gym as well as in the water. -- Photo/Sean Rowland Filipe Toledo goes vertical in the gym as well as in the water. -- Photo/Sean Rowland - WSL / Sean Rowland

WSL: How did you get into training some of the elite surfers down in San Clemente?
Steinhoff: I began training elite surfers in 2011 when I was introduced to Sunny Garcia's wife Colleen. She knew that my training style and personality would mesh well with his and she was right. I trained him daily leading into his 2012 HIC Pro. As things evolved with my program design and creativity so did my athletes performance. They all continued to win and excel quickly. I became obsessed with creating the perfect program specific to surfing. I focused on all the variables involved with the natural movement and mechanics of the body in the act of surfing. It was also very attractive to me that surf training was essentially untapped by the fitness world. This allowed me to follow my gut instincts and live outside of the fitness box and paradigms.

WSL: Non-pros have to balance work and surf, what are three exercises you can do at home to stay surf fit when you can't make it to the gym or are on the road?
Steinhoff: The pros I train are always on the road and have very little time or energy to squeeze in workouts. Because of this I designed a simple and effective workout to maintain the results they achieve while they are here training with me at Foundation. I named the workout "10/10/10's". It consists of 10 reputations of 3 body weight exercises being done repeatedly in the same sequence for 10min straight. These are done without taking any breaks or recovery time for the duration of the 10min workout. The 3 exercises are Jump squats, Judo/Dive bomber push-ups, and bicycle crunches. Try it out. It sounds simple but trust me when I say it doesn't feel simple when you get to the seventh minute or so.

Steinhoff challenging Toledo with a bit of resistance training. -- Photo/Sean Rowland Steinhoff challenging Toledo with a bit of resistance training. -- Photo/Sean Rowland - WSL / Sean Rowland

WSL: What are three stretches everyone should do before a surf?
Steinhoff: The three stretches that everyone should do before a surf session are "the pigeon" or some form of a hip opener, arm and leg swings, downward dog and a strong warm up. In my experience elite athletes take a long time to get themselves warmed up. A dynamic warm up is a key component in a athlete's ability to perform at their full potential. The professional and elite surfers I train perform better 15 min into their training session in comparison to the beginning stages. If surfers warm up prior to their competition or session they will be on point right out of the gates rather than later in their heat.

Filipe Toledo working on the core. -- Photo/Sean Rowland Filipe Toledo working on the core. -- Photo/Sean Rowland - WSL / Sean Rowland

WSL: What are three common stretches that everyone does wrong?
Steinhoff: Three common stretches that are done wrong are: The basic lunge and overhead reach due to the hip alignment. The goal is to keep the hips squared forward and people tend to have them twisted. You can adjust this by simply scooting the back leg forward to shorten the distance between the feet. High Cobra is often done wrong and can be adjust by simply dropping and relaxing the should blades down rather than shrugging them into the shoulders. Anything in the lunge or squat position has the tendency to be misaligned. Always stack the joints while keep the bones aligned. This will allow for less pressure through the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Filipe Toledo keeping it loose and limber before the season kicked off. -- Photo/Sean Rowland Filipe Toledo keeping it loose and limber before the season kicked off. -- Photo/Sean Rowland - WSL / Sean Rowland

WSL:Surfers don't often warm down after a session either, what's something surfers should do in order to bounce back/stay healthy for their next surf?
Steinhoff: The warm down after a surf is key component in the overall maintenance of a surfers ability to bounce back effectively and prevent injury. I tell the surfers I train to have a routine that they maintain before, during and after every surf session and stick with it. It should consist of total wellness rather than just the physical aspect of their being. They should practice a balance in mental, physical, and spiritual. This varies per individual as some are much stronger in one area than the other. The mental coaching I do with my clients is one of the most important parts of my program. If a surfer has a strong mental game that strength is projected out onto everything else in their performance and life. Filipe Toledo is a perfect example of this.