Why cool French girls are obsessed with this skateboard workout

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Photo: Raphael Doub
You don’t need to be able to do an ollie or a kickflip in order to get sweaty on a skateboard—at least, not if you live in Paris.

That’s because, for the past two years, French celebrity trainer Raphael Doub has been perfecting an encyclopedia of workout moves that incorporate a Penny skateboard, which he regularly uses in sessions with it-girl clients like Léa Seydoux, Soko, and Joséphine de La Baume.

Photo: Instagram/@raphael_doub
Photo: Instagram/@raphael_doub

“The advantage of using a skateboard is that it works on your balance,” says Doub. “I would say it’s a mix between figure skating, rowing, and cross-country skiing, which by definition are the three most complete sports ever. They also all have in common the importance of balance on a fluid element—water for rowing, snow for skiing, or ice for figure skating—which we achieve with the oscillation of the skateboard.”

By using an unstable surface like the board for strength training moves, he says, you’re forced to recruit muscles that you don’t normally work—kind of like a Bosu ball, but on wheels. (Yeah, it’s as gnarly as it sounds). As if that weren’t enough of a test for students’ balance chops, he also has them spin juggling rings around their wrists and ankles in certain poses.

Skateboard Workout3
Photo: Raphael Doub

Doub, a former pole vaulter and diver, adds that the plastic Penny skateboard is what makes the workout so tough. “It’s the only one that has flexibility, which enables it to rock from side to side,” he explains. At 22 inches long, it’s also got considerably less surface area than your average skateboard, making the balance challenge even greater.

How it works

Although Doub brought the skateboard workout to the gym at Colette (Paris’ trendsetting concept shop) for a month this spring, he’s currently only teaching it one-on-one, in France. So I set up a Skype class with him to learn some of the moves firsthand—and believe me when I say it’s it’s brutal.

A lot of the movements are similar to ones you’d do on a Pilates reformer (planks, lunges, bridge lifts)—but imagine that the reformer had a screw loose, causing it to teeter slightly from side to side. The upside to that is it really does work just about every muscle in your body, especially your legs, glutes, and core.

Skateboard Workout1
Photo: Raphael Doub

A few tips before starting: First, make sure your skateboard is on a yoga mat or some other kind of cushy surface, because you will topple over at some point. (Luckily, you’re not far from the ground). Doub also points out that beginners should use a thicker and more textured mat, since it keeps your board from rolling as much.

You’ll also want to have a small towel at hand for moves where you’re kneeling, to prevent bruised knees.

Doub says that you should aim for 20–30 reps of each exercise, and to incorporate the moves into your workout routine a couple of times per week for best results. “Habit is the enemy,” he proclaims. “If you diversify your workouts, you’ll see quicker and better results.” Bien sûr.

Shred—and get shredded—with these four body-sculpting workout moves that you can do on a skateboard.

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Photo: @avechannah
Photo: Instagram/@avechannah

1. Dynamic pullover

Come to a tabletop position, holding the skateboard vertically with both hands. Inhale as you slide the board out in front of you as far as you can, then use your abdominals to draw it back in toward you on an exhale. Repeat 20–30 times.

Photo: Hannah Romao/@avechannah
Photo: Instagram/@avechannah

2. Rocky squats

Stand on the skateboard with your feet together. Squat down and touch your knees with your back straight, keeping your gaze forward. Come back to standing; repeat 10 times.

Then, squat deeper and touch your ankles, while still keeping your back straight and your gaze forward. Come back to standing; repeat 10 times.

Finally, squat even deeper and touch the board, while still keeping your back straight and your gaze forward. Come back to standing; repeat 10 times.

To intensify, close your eyes or lower down to a count of three and stand up to a count of one.

Photo: Hannah Romao/@avechannah
Photo: Instagram/@avechannah

3. Skater core

Start in a plank position with your feet on the board and your hands under your shoulders. Use your core to draw the board in toward you as you lift your hips into a pike position. Then, slowly and with control, lower your hips and slide your feet back to the starting position. Repeat 20–30 times.

Photo: Hannah Romao/@avechannah
Photo: Instagram/@avechannah

4. Plunge on wheels

Extend your arms into a T-shape and place your right foot on the skateboard. Slide your right foot forward into a deep lunge, lowering your left knee as close to the ground as possible. Repeat 20–30 times, then switch legs.

To intensify this exercise, close your eyes while doing the motion.

French women must have a thing for working out on wheels—here’s why Paris’ indoor cycling scene is one of the hottest in the world. No plans to hop the pond anytime soon? At least you can eat breakfast and do your hair like you’re from the City of Lights. 

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