Editor’s Note: This feature is part of The Inertia‘s Health and Wellness Spotlight, an initiative that explores emerging trends in nutrition, diet, and fitness in surf and outdoor culture. We’ll be releasing a feature each day this week with your health in mind, so check back here daily. Unequivocally, excellent health enables more time to fully enjoy the ocean and outdoors. This initiative is powered by our friends at Vivobarefoot. Check out The Inertia’s 2019 Health and Wellness Product Guide here.
One could argue that the string of recent advances in women’s professional surfing began with female big wave surfers who have been charging as hard as the boys for years without mainstream acknowledgment. There were many women who contributed to these advancements, as detailed by The Inertia and a recent New York Times magazine cover story, but one woman has been especially dominant as of late. She’s a laid-back, always smiling, fearless, big-wave cowgirl: Maui’s own Paige Alms.
Alms is muscular yet lean. She stands tall with excellent posture. Her body is energized and her eyes alert. She has trained hard to withstand the darkest pockets of monstrous wipeouts at Jaws. Through her Maui-based workouts and home-grown, home-cooked meals, Alms invests in her health in order to push the boundaries of what’s possible in waves of consequence. She’s a two-time big wave world champion, and she’s made sure that the platform she’s building does right by all the strong women who have helped her along the way. We caught up with Alms to learn more about her approach to diet, training, and nutrition.
Maui is an awesome place to stay fit with the great waves and hikes all over the island, and Paige has found the perfect place to stay on top of her game. Six days a week, she can be found in the company of fellow local Jaws charger Ian Walsh at their local gym in Haiku, but the type of workout she commits to each day always depends on how she honestly answers this question: “Hey, how’s your body feeling and what do you want to work on?”
“I have a very unique situation at home on Maui,” said Alms. “I train at a gym that’s two minutes from my house called Deep Relief Peak Performance. Samantha Campbell is the owner, and she’s been training me for almost five years. I feel very fortunate because my training is different from most. It’s very specific to who I am and how my body feels and the goals I want to accomplish. It varies from week to week or month to month or by the year depending on what I want to work towards. Anything from normal cardio and core, stability, and agility — it mixes in everything, and it’s really based on how my body’s feeling.”
Alms isn’t devoted to any particular diet, admitting that she goes through phases where she doesn’t really want certain foods. But overall she simply loves every aspect of healthy eating and infuses all that joy into meals that tend to consist of all the right things.
“To be completely honest: I love food, and it’s one of my biggest joys. Things I look forward to in a day are my meals, and I love cooking and I love growing my own food in my garden,” Alms said, her face literally lighting up. “I’d say nine out of 10, I eat pretty clean. Veggies, fruit, and protein, that’s pretty much all I want. But I’m not afraid to eat a pizza once in a while.”
“The night before a big swell or an event, I usually eat a big salad, a pasta, and a piece of salmon — that’s one of my favorite meals. It makes me feel good and have energy throughout the next day,” Alms said.
Though the champ enjoys a meal fit for a queen the night before, she says that if a day is going to include a ride down a 30-plus-foot face, she loses her appetite.
“Morning of, I have a hard time eating,” she said. “I know that I need to, so I usually try to have something, but it’s honestly not much. Throughout the day I’ll be eating energy bars and hydrating, but in the morning I have a hard time eating. I feel like all the fueling comes from the week ahead and the few days before, but the day of, you throw it all away and just go out and enjoy the waves.”
“It all falls back on all the preparation I‘ve had to do in the past and all the experiences and waves I’ve ridden, moments I’ve had in the water and back on land,” she said. “I think learning from those experiences and trusting in your ability…I’ve been surfing since I was nine years old, but every session I feel like I continue to learn and fall back on the things that I’ve learned before.”
Alms broke down her go-to health philosophy in three easy steps: have fun, eat clean, and keep the body moving.
“As long as I’m moving and doing something active, I feel good,” she said. “That’s what my body likes and it’s what I try to encourage all my friends to do: keep moving!”