French Girls Are Obsessed With This 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.

“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.

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.

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.