A Surf Lesson with TSI – What Others Have to SayWe are confident that your experience with The Surf Institute will be fun, informative, and just plain fabulous! Read what some of our clients have to say about their surf lesson experience…
May 31, 2020 – Maria Shen, Culver City, CA
Each lesson with Carla unveils another possibility of what I can do. She is a fearless leader offering the building blocks of surf technique, etiquette and strength, and she pushes you to claim your own potential as a surfer. Carla’s knowledge and experience is so deep that she quickly discerns her students’ strengths and needs, and every lesson is focused and productive.
I started working with Carla when I was a novice, and now she is still my trusted coach as I explore the technical intricacies of cutbacks, turns. walking and rail work. I wouldn’t be the surfer I am today without her, and I look forward to continued improvement under her expert guidance. Thanks Carla!
July 5, 2017 – Hilarie Roope, Malibu, CA
Carla is a true professional in her field. Surfing is a new passion for me and I can count on one hand how many months I have been enjoying this awesome journey. There is no way I would have made the progress I have made in such a short time with out Carla’s guidance. She goes way beyond the norm by the amount of energy and passion she infuses into your surf session. The level of experience and expertise you get are way above anyone else and it’s pretty obvious by the level of respect the seasoned surfers give her that she is the real deal. On top of it all, she is as authentic and real as they come and will work your butt off as she truly believes that the value of your time with her should be fully utilized catching every wave possible!!
June 26, 2017 – Susie H., Santa Monica
Surfing with Carla is the best. First of all, she is an incredible teacher. Not only does she have deep knowledge and experience, but she also knows how to communicate it to her students. Each time I’m out with her I learn something new, as she is constantly coaching me and giving me concrete tips to help me improve. Second, her love and respect for surfing translate into her teaching philosophy. Unlike other instructors I’ve had who just seemed out to make a buck and uninterested in my progression, I can feel that Carla cares about my improvement. She wants to share her love of surfing, and make sure you have solid skills and are being safe out there too. Finally, it’s hard to explain how much fun it is surfing with her. Her enthusiasm is unstoppable. I love hearing Carla’s shouts and cheers as she pushes me to go for a wave. When I don’t think I have it in me, she helps me find the strength and courage to try. She is an amazing spirit – strong, funny, fierce, and with the biggest heart. Just being out on the water with her is a privilege. I always leave grateful for time on the ocean and time with such a great person.
June 6, 2017 – Lisa McAteer, Malibu, CA
Carla has been giving me lessons for nearly 8 years. She is an amazing coach. She know my strengths and weaknesses and helps me to build on both!! I just had the best session I have ever had. I heard her voice saying wave selection Lisa. Choose your waves. It’s like she on my shoulder telling me what, when and how. So much trust and admiration for everything she brings to the water and outside it.
Ethics, strength, knowledge and grace!!
Love you Carla and thanks for teaching me to never give up!
May 29, 2017 – Katherine, Malibu, CA
Carla is one of the masters of the sport, and it is such a privilege to be able to learn from her! I am an intermediate level surfer whose feet were kind of glued to my longboard. I wanted to learn how to elegantly glide to the nose and cross step. In addition to water time together, she filmed me on video with feedback on where I could improve technically. She also helped me figure out one of the harder spots locally: where to sit, which waves to choose, etc. Her words still ring through my head when I’m practicing the art of dancing on my board. Carla is an amazing coach and we’re lucky to have her as a teacher!
May 27, 2017 – Steph Reguiero, Los Angeles, CA
When I met Carla, I wasn’t a beginner anymore, but I needed tips to improve my surfing. I really wanted to learn how to cross step and get to the nose. Carla came in the water with me and watched me surf. After each waves she gave me her feedback and pointed to mistakes I was doing that I didn’t even realized. She taught me how to fix them and also gave me many really useful information about cross stepping and nose riding. Today I can cross step gracefully because of her. I get an occasional nose ride and keep practicing to get better. She totally helped me improve my surfing and with style, and I could definitely still use more of her knowledge. Wether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advance surfer, Carla can take your surfing to the next level faster than anyone that I know. She’s an amazing surfer and surf instructor. She enjoy seeing her student improving and you can see that she really cares and loves what she’s doing. I would definitely recommend her to anyone! She’s the best!
August 23, 2013 – Sabs Bengzon, La Union, Philippines
It’s tough as a beginner surfer who doesn’t even live by the beach to improve, especially when you’re shy like me and have a hard time asking more experienced surfers for tips and I don’t know what to ask. I took Carla’s coaching and the improvement over just two days was steep. It’s been months but I still remember very clearly the tips she taught me, and I still keep them in mind today when I paddle out. She kept an eye out for me during our sessions and gave me immediate feedback, which encouraged and immensely helped me. Reviewing our videos of the session also allowed me to concretely see my good/bad habits and how it impacted my surfing. The coaching was really tailored to the individual and she was so good at explaining how it all worked. The best thing is that her coaching is not just for beginners, so I can keep going back and learning more from her even as I advance. Thanks, Carla!
April 19, 2013 – Saydi Staudenmaier & Hannah, Pasadena, CA
My daughter has always been called a water baby. We put her in swim classes at two for safety reasons because she simply didn’t have any fear of water. On a family vacation to Stinson Beach, CA, Hannah spent the better part of two days watching the surfers and nothing else. She was blown away and her world, shall we say, shifted on it’s axis. She started upping her game in swim class. She wouldn’t give up on the idea of taking surfing lessons that coming summer. With her being five, I had a hard time getting any surfing school to take me seriously when I would call and look for instruction. They ALL turned me away based solely on my daughter’s age. Frustrated, I put the word out to friends that surfed to see if they knew anyone that might be willing to take on a precocious girl with a need to get in the water. Carla’s name came up as a soulful and talented surfer who would give Hannah a shot. We met at Surfrider Beach for that first lesson. I can tell you, for Hannah, it was love at first sight. Carla’s enthusiasm was contagious. Hannah caught her first waves that day. Typical of kids Hannah’s age, she went back and forth from trepidation to complete abandon. The thing that was a constant was the trust she had I Carla the whole time. Watching from the shore, I was amazed at the ability Carla has to take a student and empower them the way she did. We only got a couple lessons last summer but I can tell you, my daughter is hooked. She is working hard in swim class again to be a strong swimmer for the summer to come. I can’t wait to see what happens this year. I am contemplating buying a wet suit and trying it out too. I will search no further for an instructor. Carla is a gifted mentor and we are stoked to call her not just our teacher but our friend.
April 16, 2013 – Kiddo Cosio, Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines a lot of avid surfers from the city (such as myself) don’t have the privilege of living close to the ocean. So we have grown accustomed to making the 5-hour drive to La Union, Baler and other spots every weekend to spend just two precious days a week in the sea. Being a weekend surfer for most of my surfing life, I see the importance of making the most of each session–and taking lessons with Carla Rowland has helped me maximize my water time. I would say that I have improved much quicker thanks to Carla’s watching me like a hawk during our coaching sessions. She tells me exactly what I need to work on, down to the specifics of footwork, and the little nuances in my stance and style–she will even help put me in the right mental state to catch better waves, and ride them with more refined skill. All these things put together have helped me improve a lot faster. Now that I am surfing better and with more confidence, I am having more fun than ever. Thanks, Carla!
April 12, 2013 – Carla Sebastian, Manila, Philippines
Surf lessons aren’t just for beginners and first timers. I feel like though I’ve been surfing for about 5 years, I’ve benefited a lot from Carla’s surf coaching. Sessions with her have been a lot of help with my surfing in terms of self awareness, wave knowledge, and flow, as well as confidence and focus. Even the simplest and smallest adjustments she would make really opened me up to new opportunities to progress and learn. She taught me to develop with my own style of surfing – pushing for my strengths and potential. I really appreciated Carla’s lectures and pointers, many of which I always keep in mind. I’m definitely looking forward to more training sessions. Thank you Carla!
April 11, 2013 – Amanda Ware, Ventura, CA
With unemployment at an all time high, job searching has become a full-time occupation. Spending countless hours indoors glued to my computer screen in my futile hunt I decided I needed to break free, see the sun again and feel alive. I called Carla up and we set a date. I had been out on a surfboard a few times with friends, but had never had a successful surfing experience. On a couple of occasions Carla and I had talked about getting me out surfing with her, but each time I either had some excuse or would simply chicken out and not follow through with our plans. It was time to get back on the board and give surfing another shot. I met up with Carla in Malibu on a summer day that couldn’t have been more perfect. The waves were low and smooth, the sun was out, and the crowds were mild (at least for Malibu). At first, I’ll admit, I was very intimidated. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but Carla was very reassuring, reminding me not to worry and that she had it all under control. We started out with a “pop-up” session. She instructed me on getting up on the board, my positioning and balance, giving me the opportunity to get comfortable before we hit the surf. Once I had the “pop-up” down we paddled out. The waves were perfect for a beginner, such as myself, and Carla stuck by me the whole time. She let me know how to paddle, when to paddle, to paddle harder, and when to get up. She even provided a little push at the end to get you going! After just one try I was up and surfing! Needless to say, Carla is a fantastic instructor. She is completely supportive and dedicated to you and your goals. As an instructor she explains to you the different dynamics of surfing and why you’re supposed to move and position yourself a certain way on the board. Most importantly, Carla made my experience a positive one. I definitely have plans to take lessons with Carla in the future and look forward to accomplishing my new goals.
April 11, 2013 – Jovanne Lagman, Baler, Philippines
Eversince I got into surfing, I wanted to improve every time I get the chance to. There have been countless times where I’d catch a small wave by myself but not higher than what I normally get. A few weeks ago, I found Carla Rowland from TSI who is an intermediate coach in surfing and took the advantage of booking sessions with her while she was in the Philippines.
My whole surfing experience turned much greater than expected after the lessons taught. It’s very rare to find a coach who corrects every bit of detail and adds additional information on anything about surfing. I’ll definitely book more sessions with Carla Rowland when she gets back from the Philippines!
April 3, 2013 – Parker Clemons, Thousand Oaks, CA
I wanted to surf because all of my sisters surf and it seemed so fun. I met Carla at the beach I think. I know her becase she is my sisters surf coach and she surfs at most of the beaches I go to. The first thing i did, was put on a wetsuit on. Then, she told me the basics. She taught me about the pop-ups. Then we started paddling out in the water. We were at Malibu. Then, there was a perfect wave coming for us. I did the pop-up and it was fun. I took lessons with her once a week. The first three weeks were fun. I thought it was scary, but then I realized that it was actually fun. I am still taking lessons with her – it has actually been awhile since I went surfing with her. It was really fun. I now realized that there was no reason to be scared. I am going to surf again with her soon!
March 28, 2013 – Regina O’Neill, West Hollywood, CA
Ever go somewhere for 2 days and decide to stay for the entire season? Well, let me tell you about my summer in Malibu with Carla Rowland, Surf Stud to the Stars. When i was first self-diagnosed with what can only be called “surf-lame-i-tis” I initially tried to remedy it by avoiding surfing at all cost while at the same time simply telling people that I did in fact surf. That worked for a short while….until the contractor working on my house busted me for posing. You see “my surf spot” was his surf spot and he’s a old time local. Game Over. He immediately diagnosed me with the aforemetioned surf-lame-i-tis and sent me directly to Dr. Rowland to perform a much needed lame-ectomy. In just one lesson Carla cured me from my worst fear; the dreaded breaking wave! From that moment she started talking me thru it I knew I could do it. And I caught one! I immediately told Carla we were going to be spending lots of time together. So a few times a week after my 8 to 4 job I would head to the beach. Other surfers started recognizing me and they were really cool to me knowing I was one of Carlas students. They would encourage me in the water and even give me a wave they could easily snag – “paddle, paddle, paddle…keep going, dont worry its all yours!!” You cant help but paddle your heart out when you hear complete strangers cheering you on – right in the heart of LA! You see every surf spot is its own little community where everyone really just wants to have a great time and hang out with good people. By July not only was I finally doing something I really wanted to do for YEARS but it also had a positive impact on work. There is just something about being out in the water and being a part of the surf experience. It makes you a better person. And I have Carla to thank for that! So now while I sit and surf, and wait to hear from Aetna to see if my plan covered this life-changing proceedure i can only say one thing as i reflect on my Carla-induced surf accomplishments from this summer: “Thank you Jesus, its a miracle! And now you ain’t the only dude walking on water!!” See you guys out there! * special thanks to Buzz for referring me to Carla. You saved my life!
March 15, 2013 – Raphi Savitz, Boston, MA
I have always been interested in learning how to surf. However, coming from Boston, the idea of learning to surf in the frigid Atlantic was never all that appealing. In May 2009 I planned to be in California for a couple of weeks. I decided I wanted to take surfing lessons and searched the internet for instructors. I read a couple clippings about Carla and she sounded like a good choice. Her surfing lineage and her devotion to both surfing and the city of Malibu were strong selling points for me. I talked to Carla on the phone and her enthusiasm sealed the deal. I was now stoked to jump in the water! I met up with Carla in mid-morning at Surfrider Beach. She gave me some brief instruction on the beach about positioning and standing up techniques. It was then time to jump in the water. She then focused on paddling techniques and how to both judge and react to oncoming waves. Her instructions were all clear and I guess pretty perfect, because I caught my first wave and never looked back. All told, I ended up catching most of the waves my first day and I couldn’t have done it without Carla. I was so happy with Carla’s instruction that I returned a couple of days later to improve my skills. If you’re thinking about learning how to surf, give Carla a ring, she’s awesome.
March 12, 2013 – Kirsten Powell & Kaitlin, West Hills, CA
We have known Carla Rowland for the last 7 years and when it came time for our daughter Kaity to enter the ocean to learn to surf, Carla was the obvious choice for teaching her. The first day Kaity entered the water was on Father’s Day 2005; it was a beautiful and warm summer day. It was not a planned event, but we had talked with Carla on previous occasions and that day, it all fell into place. Rick, who also surfs, had the pleasure of watching his daughter from the beach catching her first wave with Carla. It was an awesome Father’s Day present he received that year. When it comes to surfing and instruction, Carla knows her stuff. She has been teaching our daughter Kaity and I for years. She is great at reading each student and as a result, she tailors her instruction to the specific needs of that student. Whether it is for a beginning student or a student who wants to increase their surfing skills, Carla is the person who gets you from point A to point B. Carla is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to surfing and her degree in communication bode well for her when communicating with her students. I have taken numerous coaching lessons from Carla and her observation skills are very keen but it is her ability to explain what to do next in order for one to improve that really makes her extremely valuable as a surf teacher and coach. So if you are looking for a surf instructor or a coach, we can wholeheartedly recommend Carla Rowland for the job. Thank you Carla for all of your guidance and recommendations!
March 8, 2013 – Mitch H., La Union, Philippines
Recently tried surfing for the 1st time & really thought I knew what I was doing, not really. One session with Carla elevated my casual wave catching to consistent wave riding. Her articulate and easy-going nature were very helpful in showing me how to read wave conditions and making the proper adjustments. Thank you Carla for showing me the light and allowing me to have a more enjoyable time in the sea!
February 11, 2013 – Taylor Nelson, Thousand Oaks, CA
When I was five my dad taught me how to surf. My family has always been a beach family and surfing was a part of the package. I could stand up surf by myself, but I always wanted to compete, yet lacked the skills to compete, until I met Carla! She has helped me earn confidence in my surfing and water safety skills. She has taught me how to cross-step, ride the nose, and even switch stance. I would not be the surfer I am today if it weren’t for Carla sharing her knowledge of the sport with me. Carla has a hands on approach to coaching. She’ll actually go out in the water with me and show me what I’m doing wrong, and then show me how to do it right. I have experienced many coaches in my life from soccer to swim, and I have never had one so focused on seeing me achieve my own goals. Carla is an inspiration and the best coach I have ever had!
November 11, 2012 – Cathy Gurvis, Boulder, CO
My first lesson with Carla was on August 6, 2003. I had just taken up surfing at the ripe age of 44 and was looking for a surf coach in Malibu. The ocean had always been a bit daunting to me but I was intrigued with the idea of surfing. I had the most amazing lesson that day. Surfed wave after wave and was totally hooked. I felt very safe with Carla and clearly her teaching style worked. I knew I was in the hands of a woman who completely understood the ocean. On my own, 4 days later, I had a freaky near death experience in the ocean, when the rail of my surfboard hit me in the throat. I survived this crazy experience and a year later got back on the board. Since then I have moved to Boulder, but every time I hit the Los Angeles soil my first phone call is to Carla Rowland; eager to get back in the water. I know that as long as Carla is close by, my experience in the ocean is going to be an amazing one!