You know to keep an eye on a surfer when their spirit animal is a silverback gorilla. Zeke Lau is yet another Championship Tour standout that rose from the Hawaiian waters of Kewalo Basin alongside Carissa Moore, his best friend Keanu Asing, and the Moniz brothers. The son of a football coach and a statuesque image of physical fitness, Lau takes the upkeep of his body seriously while still maintaining a cruisey, aloha vibe.
Though the Hawaiian is still chasing his first CT event win in his third year on tour, he’s come extremely close with a second place finish in macking, scary Bells his rookie year, and back at home on Oahu he’s proud to take his rightful place at the top of the podium in prestigious events connected to the Triple Crown with wins at the HIC Pro and two victories at Sunset Beach, the second jewel in the Vans World Cup of Surfing crown, held annually at one of the toughest places to win in the world.
We caught up with Lau late last winter and he gave us insight into how he prepares for nine months on tour, how infusing Italian home cooking made by his girlfriend and nutritionist powers his game, and how mental fortitude keeps him roaring like a gorilla as he emerges from massive, misty barrels around the world.
The most successful surfers tend to all have the same mentality: the best training for surfing is surfing. Lau takes that winning mindset one step further by mimicking the same movements he’d be doing in the water during his land-based workouts with some of Hawaii’s top fitness advisors.
“I work out at Tactical Strength [& Conditioning] with my trainer Darin Yap. We’ve just been developing a lot of similar movement and training that mimics the movements you do in the water, whether that’s paddling or balancing or one-legged balancing things or explosion or being able to decompress after doing a turn or whatever it is. We kind of just cater it based on surfing and I feel like it’s been working really good,” he explained. “I also counter that with [ginastica guru] Kid Pilegro, where you do these weird, awkward motions and movements in a very weird sequence, but that’s kind of how surfing is, it’s very unpredictable.”
When it comes to love and eating, Zeke is living la vita bella. “I just try to eat clean as much as I can — eat at home most nights and just make sure I know what goes into what I’m putting in my body. My girlfriend [Jenna Fuerte] is actually my nutritionist,” he said, grinning, “so she’ll cook whatever she feels like my body needs, whether I’m training a lot or surfing a lot or if I’m not doing much at all I’ll sort of change my diet based on that. We just try to keep it clean. She’s Italian, so I eat a lot of pasta, chicken and pasta or chicken and rice pilaf with some roasted veggies. I’m not a big salad guy, which is kind of hard, so I just make up for it in the veggies.”
“That chicken pilaf with veggies is my favorite dish that she makes, so usually before contests or before I’m gonna have a big day I eat that because I know it makes my body feel good the next day,” Zeke said, making that Fuerte nutrition plan sound insanely appetizing.
Like some of the most notable champions in history, Zeke thrives on linking it all together under pressure. “When you get tired and heats get hard, that’s when your training kicks in. You reflect on it, like, ‘This is why I train, this is why I put in all that work, so I’m ready for these moments.’ That’s what training is for me: it’s more mental so I know I did everything I could to prepare and my body is physically and mentally ready.”
General Health Philosophy
Educated at Hawaii’s prestigious Kamehameha Schools, it’s no surprise that Zeke had an eloquent answer for this question. But his honesty is what makes him such a favorite for surf fans worldwide. “Moderation. Everything is good in moderation, and a little ice cream never hurt anybody.”
This is part of our Champs on Health series.