Surf Stories Spotlight: Yolie Esquivel, Soul Surfer

August 4, 2023
Today we have a special treat for all you surf and Earth-loving enthusiasts out there! We had the chance to chat with the inspiring surfer, @yolie.e, who learned how to surf at age 40. We loved hearing what she had to say and we know you will too!
First things first! What is your name/ where are you from?
My full name is Yolanda Esquivel, but most call me Yolie. I was born in Mexico, but I was raised in Inglewood, CA
You're our neighbor! How long have you been surfing for and how did you get started surfing? 
I have been surfing on and off for about 10 years. I donated money to a special cause at one of my sisters' jobs and they raffled off prizes. One of those prizes was free surf lessons. No one at her office wanted them. My sister recalled something I said. When I gave birth to my only child, I said, "In my next lifetime I am going to be a surfer." She then gave me the lessons and said, "Why wait?" Needless to say, that was the beginning of the me that I always thought I was. 
That is an amazing prize, and that's awesome your sister could gift that to you. What does surfing mean to you? What are the benefits you have seen? 
Surfing for me is the essence of my soul. As a woman, my body is made up of 55% water so it is only natural to want to be immersed in it. Surfing always makes everything better. The last 10 years have been transformative for me. I lost both my parents, I went through menopause and made many more changes. I had never felt so alone in my life without my parents, the ocean really connected me with them. My father believed that the elements were GOD so I felt a spiritual connection. I have gotten so physically strong from surfing, but more than anything, it has helped me mentally. It nourishes me, vitamin SEA is the best. It calms me, it centers me and I am so appreciative to live so close to it. I feel the most beautiful out in the ocean ironically enough with sand everywhere and messy hair. I can dress up and I still don't feel as beautiful and wonderful. 

We completely understand that. Surfing and the sea make everything better! Do you follow any specific workout plans or nutrition plans to maintain your fitness/ lifestyle as a surfer in your 50s? 
I have been teaching fitness for about 30 years. I have studied yoga and practiced it since I was 13. I was a dancer. So all of that experience has really helped me. Most recently, I started to take my son's HIIT class. It's fun and it really works the whole body the way that surfing does.  I meditate, practice yoga, skateboard and dance. I am often on a low sodium and low sugar type of diet. Menopause changed that for me. I grew up mostly vegetarian and eating from our garden so I try to apply that now. I love fish and vegetables the most. I workout at least 3 times a week. I try to surf at least 2 to 3 times if time permits and I eat between 10am and 7pm daily. I meditate daily. 
That sounds like a great combo of nutrition, rest, and strength training. Are there any barriers have you encountered as an older surfer (50 is not old btw!)? How do you deal with them? 
Who says I'm older? Joking. I grew up with parents that never mentioned aging and called my sisters and I, the young girls, our whole life. So unless I look in the mirror, I will always be that 13 year old girl with big hair, tan skin and knobby knees. The only thing I think about now is how much more time I have left to surf. I imagine I have at least 20 more years. I always think about how agile my parents were in their 70s and that keeps me active and going. 
AT LEAST 20 years! 50s are the new 30s we hear. Any fun surf stories or major wipe outs you'd like to share? 
I have fractured ribs and my fin pierced my forehead (my sisters call me piggy bank sometimes in Spanish: la alcancia) I was getting out of the water early one morning when I put my longboard down to wash off my hair, a big onshore closeout picked up my board. As I looked to my left, I saw my board flying in my direction. I didn't have time to move so I just relaxed. It happened so slow and so fast that I was a bit confused as to what had just happened. I did not want to be afraid so I jumped back on my board and paddled back out. I caught a nice little wave in and that's when I began to feel a bit achy. It wasn't until I took off my spring suit that I realized something was wrong. The pain set in. I would not know for 5 days that I fractured ribs. I had x-rays and was told that I should rest. I was back surfing in 3 weeks. After that, I worked my core like I'd never done before. 

Wow, that is rough! But it's always those unsuspecting moments where you really get hurt. If you could tell the younger generation of surfers anything (surf or life advice or both!), what would it be? 
I would advise them to really enjoy their time out in the water and not to worry about advancing so quickly. Surfing is about more than just riding waves. Watch, listen and learn from the ocean. Nature has so much to offer us mentally, physically and spiritually. It is truly a mind, body and soul experience. I could go on and on about surfing. It has taught me that if I can learn to surf at 40, I can do anything!
Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to chat with us! To learn more about Yolie, give her a follow on Instagram @yolie.e. If you have anyone with an interesting surf origin story, let us know and we will make it happen! Thanks for reading along and supporting always!