- Zac Noyle

This story was originally published by The Inertia.

What do you do when the surf dies down on the North Shore? Sure, the Seven Mile Miracle has a ton going on when the waves are pumping. But when those lay days start stacking up, that ansty energy and unrequited froth becomes palpable.

A total 180 from popular ocean sports, many of the world's elite watermen (and women) have turned to mats, boxing gloves, and punching bags. Guys like Dustin Barca, Ezra Sitt, and Ezekiel Lau were emerging bulked up beyond their usual shredded surf aesthetic, as fans and fellow tour competitors took note. Garages across the Sunset neighborhood were soon padded from wall to wall as these impromptu martial arts and cross-training gyms sprang into the training repertoire of a growing group of powerhouse surfers.

The best of these impromptu gyms is hidden in an undisclosed location along the northernmost stretch of this coastal paradise. Known as the Boars Nest, the secret spot upholds its prestige by serving an invite-only clientele. A training - and proving - ground since 2005, its mats have seen surfing's elite including Danny Fuller, Kelly Slater, Eli Olson, and Kai "Borg" Garcia, pass between its walls. "Every year when I go to Hawaiʻi, I always go train at the Boars Nest - probably for the past 15 years now," says one of the winter regulars, Michel Bourez. "It's good to see the boys from Hawaiʻi train a lot and they have a really good vibe, you know? It's always good to hang out with them and just to learn from them."

Surfing's Heavy Hitters Train at the Boar's Nest Gym, North Shore
Jack Freestone and other surfers train with Kyle Foyle, far right. Photo: Zak Noyle Surfing's Heavy Hitters Train at the Boar's Nest Gym, North Shore. Jack Freestone and other surfers train with Kyle Foyle, far right. - Zak Noyle

The regular-footer from Tahiti has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and often spars with trainer and North Shore Lifeguard Kyle Foyle. "Kyle is such an amazing person. He taught me a lot when I was there and just to be able to learn from him and his experience is amazing," says Bourez.

Foyle, a coach at the Boars Nest, has 13 years of experience. What the humble trainer doesn't offer up is some serious cred including holding a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, a Kauai Knockout Championship 155-pound title, a 5-1 record of competing professionally in Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts, a 155-pound amateur MMA title in 2011, and years of professional Jiu-Jitsu tournaments with promoters like Metamoris and Fight2Win. He's also a member of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. The Hilo native has a lifetime of surfing and water experience making him an invaluable resource when it comes to training professional surfers on dry land. On blown-out days, the tour crew trusts him to train them safely and effectively, maximizing their agility, strength, and balance without sacrificing their wave prowess on which their careers depend.

"I tailor the training I do to each person because I can't train a professional surfer as I would a professional fighter," Foyle says. "With a surfer, I'm building strength and mobility in their shoulders, core, and legs." Beyond the physical strength, training in the martial arts arena also supplements those multi-wave hold-downs notorious to North Shore winters. "Being able to control your breath and not gassing out when you're rolling or hitting pads easily translates to being caught inside or paddling back out to the lineup during a heat, as fast as you can," notes the lifeguard.

When he departs postseason, regulars like Bourez, who has been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for six years, leaves with an enhanced skill set thanks to Foyle and the trainers at the Boars Nest. "When I go to Boars Nest I learn a lot of new techniques. I teach my friends at home and they know exactly what I learned when I was in Hawaiʻi," he says. Kauai resident Jack Freestone, who spends ample time on the North Shore each winter, finds more than just a good workout from the crew at the Boars Nest: "I've spent a lot of time learning BJJ from one of my best friends and professor, Kyle Foyle," says Freestone.

Surfing's Heavy Hitters Train at the Boar's Nest Gym, North Shore
Kailin Curren, gettin' busy with Foyle. Photo: Zak Noyle Surfing's Heavy Hitters Train at the Boar's Nest Gym, North Shore. Kailin Curren, gettin' busy with Foyle. - Zak Noyle

The sense of camaraderie noted by Freestone is an experience shared by all invited to train there. "Year-round you can find lifeguards, local professional surfers, professional fighters, and just regular people in our community practicing martial arts," remarks Foyle.

Thanks to a suggestion from his wife Tiffany, Foyle started a Muay Thai class for women that immediately took off in popularity and, four years later, remains the accomplishment Foyle is most proud of in his years at the Boars Nest. "I couldn't be more proud of these ladies and the progression and self-confidence I've seen flourish. To see ladies all ages and different skill levels training with each other and supporting each other is amazing!" he says. "That's what the Boars Nest represents - a place of no ego, where we come to make each other better and healthier."

This story was originally published by The Inertia.

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