Talk about natural talent. California native Ryan Sheckler started skating shortly after he learned to walk, and he hasn’t looked back. Over a decade ago, his gold at the 2003 X Games made him the youngest winner ever at 13, and he’s racked up five more X Games medals and countless other skating honors since.
But if Sheckler has a second home, it’s the beach. Surfing is his oasis when he’s not competing on wheels, and he loves to roam the shores of San Clemente with friends. So the new Gillette BODY ambassador and Sheckler Foundation philanthropist seemed like the perfect guy to ask about prepping for summer, from skate to surf to sand. On the eve of the 2014 X-Games (June 5-8 in Austin, Texas), here’s what he had to say…
“You need to learn to push the board right first. A lot of guys when they’re first learning will push the board with their front foot. We call that ‘mongo.’ ”
You’ve been training for the X Games: Any exercises you do that the average guy can use to look great at the beach this summer?
I definitely focus on working out my whole body, but skaters do so many twist and turns that the core is key. I do a ton of crunches and sit-ups to keep my core tight, but we [also] work with medicine balls [and do] pull-ups, intervals and stuff like that. I also need to work the legs a lot to develop strength for jumps and kicks. I do a ton of squats—squats with weights, squats with stairs, all kinds of squats. I also love doing pushups for just general fitness. They have a calming effect for me. I’ll just drop and do 50 when I need a quick boost. Cardio is a big part of it, too. When I ride, my goal is to be able to go for 45 minutes straight without a break. This routine definitely works. I feel as fit as I’ve ever felt in my life.
What’s your diet like leading up to the X Games?
I burn so many calories a day riding that trainers will actually tell me to eat a cheeseburger every once in awhile to gain some weight. But for the most part, I keep a pretty strict regimen: protein shake in the morning, and chicken, rice and veggies for my other meals. Of course, when you’re a skater and you’re riding in a van with ten guys, sometimes you do what you got to do, so fast food definitely comes into play. But for the most part, I try to keep that to an occasional thing rather than an every day thing.
Any grooming advice before heading to the beach?
It’s really a personal preference thing, but personally, I shave it all. I shave my arm hair, my leg hair, all of it. I have a lot of tattoos, and I want them to look good for the beach, so I keep it tight. There are other reasons, too. You fall a lot when you skate, and there’s nothing worse than having to pull a scab off when it’s stuck in a bunch of hair. That’s gross, I know, but it’s true. We also use a lot of wraps on our ankles and legs. So it’s nice to be able to take those off without pulling out a bunch of hair.
Got tips for choosing a tattoo?
I would say that if it’s been in your head for a long time, and you’ve just been dying to get it put on your skin, go ahead and do it. But if you just don’t know or are on the fence, I probably wouldn’t do it. You have to feel strongly and definitely give it a lot of thought first. Remember, it’s gonna be on your body for life.
How about advice for meeting women at the beach?
With my friends, we usually just start at one end of the beach in San Clemente and take our time walking to the other end. We just do our thing, having a blast, talking, laughing. So I guess my advice would be to smile, be positive and be yourself. If you’re feeling good and looking good, the rest will kinda take care of itself.
What’s the number one thing a beginning skater should focus on before taking the show public?
You need to learn to push the board right first. A lot of guys when they’re first learning will push the board with their front foot. We call that “mongo.” It’s better to have your front foot on the board and push with your back foot. This lets you do all kinds of tricks a lot easier when you work your way up to ollies, kick flips, things like that.
Same question for surfing: How can a guy hit the waves and get up to speed as quickly as possible?
It might sound obvious, but the thing you got to master before you can go anywhere else with it is paddling into a wave and standing up. This is a lot harder than it looks, and it really just takes a lot of practice and repetition to get that skill down before moving on to other stuff.
What’s on your playlist for this summer?
Definitely “Happy” by Pharrell. The dude absolutely nailed it with that song. I think it might just be on my playlist for life.