Big wave surfing? British pro surfer Andrew Cotton tells us what got him hooked.

Big wave surfing is a sport not many of us have the courage for. When the waves reach the heights of buildings, 20 feet or higher, you can start calling them big. British pro surfer Andrew Cotton knows all about it. He is one of the worlds most respected big wave surfers and has traveled the worlds most extraordinary surf spots. After trading his career as a plumber to becoming a pro surfer in 2013, surfing waves up to 70 ft high has become the norm. After breaking his back riding a 60ft wave in Nazaré, Portugal, he is back in the water.

We interviewed Andrew on how he got hooked and what it feels like to ride waves the size of small mountains.

Andrew Cotton

Describe the moment when you got hooked into surfing?

Probably when I was about seven my dad took me surfing at Saunton Beach and he rented me a board and suit. I was hooked pretty much instantly.

You’ve surfed some of the biggest waves in the world. What thoughts run in your head when you are taking off on a huge wave?

Surfing big waves or being in the ocean when the waves are giant, you’re not really thinking about anything. You’re being in the moment. The only thing I’m thinking about is getting the biggest wave and surfing it the best I can possibly surf it. I think if you think about anything else it can lead to hesitation or lead to the concentration being lost. 

Andrew Cotton surfing

How would you describe big wave surfing to those that have some experience surfing or snowboarding?

Big wave surfing for me can be almost like a form of meditation. When you’re going that fast on something so natural and pure it’s almost like time slows down and that’s a pretty magical feeling.

In 2017 Andrew was filming a documentary in Nazare, Portugal and got swallowed by a gigantic wave. On video he can be seen jumping for his life. He was rushed to the hospital and was told he had broken his back. - BBC article here. Thankfully all ended well and he made a full recovery.

We asked Andrew about his near death experiences and this is what he answered:

Don’t think I’ve ever had a near death experience or a bad moment in the ocean, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every moment in the sea. You have to enjoy and embrace the bad moments like the wipeouts to get a chance of experiencing the best waves. So I’ve have never had a bad moment. 

How do you train in order to be prepared to face the waves?

I’ve been working closely with a personal trainer called Andrew Blake the past 10 years to prepare myself for what I’m going to put my body through and we’ve also just started doing surf fitness retreats where we we’ve been training people the techniques to use to give anyone more ocean confidence what ever their surf ability or goals. 

What’s your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner? What do you eat before heading off for a surf?

I’ll eat anything but I try my best to keep it as healthy as possible.

What’s your favourite surf spot?

Every spot has its day, it’s just knowing when to be there. 

Check out Andrews Youtube for awesome surf footage:

Follow Andrew on instagram @andrew_cotty and on his website.

Training with Martin Whitelock

Martin for nutrii website.jpg

Meet Martin Whitelock. He is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor from North West London. He is a true expert in his field and runs the highly popular Moe's Bootcamp. We met with Martin to talk about fitness, his career and his hobbies.  

About you:
I'm a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor from North West London. I specialize in body weight exercises and functional fitness equipment such as kettlebells & medicine balls.  I freelance as a PT so I provide one to one sessions throughout London and I also run Moe's Bootcamp which is group HIIT classes incorporating equipment such as Tyres & Battle Ropes.

Where did you get the idea:
I'm local to the King's Cross area and  I noticed a shortage of fitness options available in the area. I approached the group training idea with King's Cross Estate services & the site developers Argent. They were very supported from the start.

I was very tough at first and I've learned a lot about building a business. My first session had 2 people, an employee of Argent and one of my best friends! The toughest challenge was the great British Weather. We trained outside for the first 18 months. It's a niche market but if your positive & consistent other people will believe in what you do.

The location:
The location is awesome. We train under a huge shelter (West Handyside Canopy) surrounded by all the incredible new developments on site.

The classes are designed to be as fun and interesting as possible using the functional fitness equipment. The system is also created to allow mixed abilities to train together.

Have you got a loyal set of partakers: 
There are so many repeat users it's insane. The fact people keep coming back for more is the most encouraging thing about the job.

I have statistics on who has made the most attendances that month and the top 10 get shared amongst the group via our email campaigns. A monthly prize will be introduced from April.

I think it's a fantastic way to meet new people. Not just for myself! People who train together get the chance to connect and it's a great way to make new friends.

Nutrition advice:
There's a always new ideas on the market. Especially with the Internet nowadays. The most sensible advice I can offer is to use common sense. Eat less sugar and more vegetables!! People generally know when they've been eating crap. Most of the time it's just about having self discipline and being sensible. 

Big do's and don’ts:
Do get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water. Don't drink alcohol every weekend and don't eat fast food or chocolate.

What does fitness and a healthy lifestyle mean to you:
It means everything. My main priority is my health and being able to to have relative strength makes me feel good. I run a business and I have two sons. Without exercise I think I would have far less energy, be less creative and less motivated.

Balancing your career and personal life:
I'm very lucky that my business is fitness. Everyone I deal with is generally in a great mood. Either excited pre training or pumped with endorphins post training.  The flexibility and control I have over my hours is one of the best benefits of running your own business. I can take time off whenever I want. But on the flip side, if I want the business to grow it means putting in shifts during unsociable hours.

Day's off:
On most days when I'm off my free time is spent out on adventures with my sons! My favourite parts of London are Hampstead Heath & Covent Garden. Other then that I love to go shopping and also catching up with friends for some down time.

Future plans:
I'm working on a YouTube channel to provide HIIT sessions and also create content to provide other insights to the fitness community.

I'm also considering online Personal Training which will allow me to train more people on a daily basis.

How can people reach you and join in?
My Personal Training is schedule is completely full at the moment. Moe's Bootcamp has a few spaces available on most sessions and is available to book online via my website You can also follow my daily fitness adventures on Instagram @mw5_fitness