May 11, 2014

A Day of Sun and Surf with Target

When the opportunity to spend a gorgeous, sunny day at the beach as an assignment arrives in my inbox, you bet your little behind I'm all in! On behalf of AOL StyleList, I attended Target's "A Day of Sun and Surf" event to celebrate Mossimo Supply Co.'s newest collection in collaboration with super talented graphic designer and painter, Jeff Canham. This exclusive, summer collection is designed with the perfect beach day in mind, complete with surf-inspired graphics for everything from tanks and towels to board shorts and flip flops for both men and women.

As an introduction to the explosive surf style and culture, and Jeff's dedicated pastime, we started the morning in our very own private surf lesson on the soft sands of Santa Monica. As much of a beach bum that I am, I have never attempted to learn how to surf, only because I've never chased the chance.  But it was something I've always wanted to cross off my bucket list and I grew more and more excited as the days approached this sunny, clear morning. I slid into my wetsuit and the lesson started soon after we fueled on some juice and Target snacks. Let me just say, our instructors from Aqua Surf in Santa Monica are the coolest people ever, and I think that was so crucial in helping the majority of us ease into what can be an intimidating sport. We learned the structure of the surfboard, such as the nose, tail, and rails and how your life depends on your stance along the middle of the board, towards the tail (well, maybe not so much your life as your imminent wipeout[s]). Then we got down to the two basic moves that you'll use in the water: the pushup, which is handy in paddling over smaller, approaching waves, and the pop-up, the all-in-one motion from paddling to standing up on the board and riding the wave. We practiced these moves on the cozy, still beach, and let me tell you, it was quite a workout for the arms and legs. Had I known I would've done a bit of stretching beforehand! After a few rounds of practicing and getting ready to actually try these in the wet, unsteady ocean, we gathered into a little group pow-wow and this was when our awesome instructors gave us some of the best advice. We repeated the mantra "stay calm and don't panic," the only rule to keep your safety and sanity in check. The second bit of advice that helped me tremendously when I was out in the water was to "take a second, close your eyes, and visualize yourself getting on that board and riding the wave." After wiping out my first five waves, my personal instructor who stood by me in the water reminded me this tip and once I did it, I rode my first wave for more than two seconds! Seeing the action in my mind before I attempted the move provided enough clarity and focus to control my body in an otherwise overwhelming situation for a first-timer. I love the ocean - I swim, I play, I soak in the sun beachside - but riding that wave was exhilarating and I was so grateful to experience the ocean in this new, inspiring nature. I couldn't appreciate the majestic ocean more at this point. Thrill and adrenaline kept me going for more wipeouts and maybe one or two successful take-offs. Just as expected, it was a lot harder to execute the moves we practiced on the sand when in the cold, rolling ocean and it wasn't long before my arms were complete noodles and I had to call it a day. Now I can see why all surfers have amazing bodies; this is such a fun way to workout that I can't wait to take this up more often this summer. Target has got me hooked!

After drying off on the shore and freshening up with our handy Target beauty kit, we shuttled over to L.A.'s iconic coastal restaurant, Gladstone's, for some art and lunch. The restaurant is settled in the beautiful Pacific Palisades on prime beachfront real estate, so our table was literally on the shore and the roar of the waves filled our atmosphere. We settled with some delicious cocktails before we learned firsthand from Jeff Canham a couple of painter's tips for our own artsy DIY. Oh, and did I mention when he was out riding the waves with us like the pro he is, he constantly cheered us on? Jeff is just the sweetest host ever.

I can't thank Target, Jeff Canham, and StyleList enough for this eye-opening surf experience. Do not forget to shop your local Target or for the amazingly cute beach essentials from the limited edition Mossimo Supply Co. x Jeff Canham collection! I'm already eyeing this adorable aloha cover-up. I'll see you all out in the water!