by Michelle Michalak October 08, 2017

Pixie Acia is an adrenaline junkie at heart, a thought leader in the Los Angeles fitness industry, and founder of Surf Sweat Serve adventure retreats.

We recently sent a Slyde Gromboard with Pixie on her epic Costa Rica retreat and couldn't wait to find out more.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Northern California, but closer to the mountains than the waves, so I never surfed or spent that much time in the ocean. I did swim competitively from the age of 6 until 10th grade, so I’ve always been a great swimmer and a water baby at heart.

I grew up skiing and snowboarding at the resorts in Tahoe and eventually moved to Kirkwood, my favorite mountain, and worked various jobs just so I could ride as often as possible. I lived there on and off for 5 seasons and had a blast! As a ticket checker, receptionist at the lodge, a night time janitor (best because then I got to ride all day and work at night) all the die hards wanted that job.  Snow rats weren't above scrubbing toilets to get more runs in.

I think that's when my love for outdoor activity really set in, I craved it and had a problem not being near the snow. I actually moved away to go to college in San Diego and as soon as winter hit, I was out. The snow called and I couldn’t resist. 

What came first yoga or surfing for you?  Do you feel that one compliments the other & if so how?

I found yoga when I first moved to LA. I was a body piercer for years and worked at a super successful business where my boss insisted we do yoga together to build connection in our company.  I fell in love with the fact that I thought it was going to be easy and I had my ass handed to me in 10minutes.  I'm a sucker for a challenge and haven't stopped doing Yoga since, I'm actually a Yoga teacher now. 

Surfing I found in Todo Santos first. Just played in the waves with a super sexy boy I was dating at the time (yeah, boy- I was 23). I loved it but I loved looking at him more, so I didn’t really think much about the surfing to be honest. A few years later I vacationed in Hawaii, and what was supposed to be one lesson on the trip, turned into nearly everyday, twice a day sometimes.  

I felt a huge connection to the Ocean, the similarities of snowboarding and surfing made sense in my body. The freedom of being in the ocean was something I quickly became addicted to. 
 

So, tried to surf in LA thinking “I was so good in HI” but was quickly humbled and checked by every wave I tried to surf. Pummeled, leveled, neck cracking, gnarly beach break waves did me in.  I didn’t really surf again for a few years. I was just straight intimidated, busy, lived in Echo Park/Los Feliz and never made it to the beach. 

It wasn’t until my best GF and sister caught the bug on a retreat to Costa Rica and then moved to El Salvador for 3 months. She came back insisting I was going to surf and get good with her, so that’s when I too caught the bug. My boyfriend at the time bought me an 8.0 for my b-day 3 birthdays ago in July and I never looked back. I’ll maybe never hang ten or ride a shorty like a boss, but I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!! I am the most full, the happiest and the healthiest mentally when I am surfing. 

Yes, yoga has a HUGE roll my ability to surf, in fact when my yoga practice gets put on the back burner, I can immediately feel it in my surf. Pop-ups are sloppier, balance is off, arms get worn out more quickly. I think the two go hand in hand. 

What was the inspiration behind Surf Sweat Serve? How has the retreat positively impacted those that have attended? 

Working with the public everyday (180 people easily a day in my SoulCycle classes) makes for a lot of connections and even more awareness around how many people are afraid to try something they think they won’t be “good at."

As I started sharing and posting my surf/adventures on my social networks, I started to hear things like: “I’m too old to” “I have kids now,” I’d never be good at it,” “I’m terrified of the ocean,” “I don’t know how to swim,” all of the excuses you could imagine.

Then I realized they weren’t actually excuses, they were programming, things that were taught throughout their lives, and that meant I had a huge opportunity to help them retrain their brains through experiences.

An opportunity to help people through their fear and into their power. Into the frame of mind that you don’t need to be good or get paid to do something in order for it to fun or worth your time. You just have to conquer your previous misconceptions about yourself. 
I started first by talking people into class at soul, then into other workout activities, then into triathlons, and then I realized the best feelings I ever had (other than surfing) were when I saw others light up with excitement for what they CAN do, instead of focusing on what they CAN’T do. 

After watching a few friends break their fears of swimming, sharks, the ocean. I realized that’s the ultimate gift I could ever give; experience. Youth, life, faith in themselves, confidence in their ability to crush the things they think they can’t, that spawned Surf Sweat Serve.

The surf part for obvious reasons, the sweat because I love adventure outdoor activity, fitness, inner work (and we do a lot of that on the retreats) and the charity was a lingering feeling that always haunted me at the end of my travels.

Every time I traveled, be it Mexico, El Salvador, Uganda, Costa Rica, even the southern states; I always felt like I had so much more to offer. I could give away my entire suitcase of clothes, that I didn’t need. I always wanted to tip more, show gratitude and appreciation, hold conversations, make eye contact, share smiles.

It was so apparent to me that people are doing far more with their lives with far less resources. Here I was traveling their beautiful country, experiencing their amazing culture, spending money on all the extra things, and they’re busting their asses in the hottest climates with no AC, water scarcity, some working 2-3 jobs a day. I was just waltzing in having the best time and then just leaving. Where was the gratitude and appreciation in that?

I mean, sure we spend money when we travel, but for some places that’s the only way they make their money, so they are hustling so hard just to get home and support their families. They have no time, energy or in some cases, awareness that tourism is keeping their economy afloat, but in fact murdering their precious planet. They don’t have time of beach cleanups, animal rescue etc.

So I decided I wanted to incorporate being of service to the trifecta. So the fitness adventure retreats are actually about total body wellness. Insides, outsides, estimable acts and awareness.  The mental barriers that we live behind, the emotional stuff that we bury with our busy hustles, the physical act of connection and detoxing through sweat and movement, and lastly filling up on compassion and giving back. 

What's 1 country that is on your bucket list for a future retreat location? Why?

Oh man, I have to pick one?! ugh, all of them! I guess Sri Lanka, I’ve never been and would be stoked.  Honestly, this is the hardest question, I want to go everywhere with waves.

What was your 1st impression of seeing/using the Slyde Gromboard for the first time?

So, full disclosure: I’m not a bodysurfer, not at all. When I first saw the, I thought (and please laugh AT me with this one) “wait? how do you paddle with one arm attached to this thing?!” It only took me a second to realize what I was thinking and saying, and then it made sense.  And that again is whole point of all of this, isn’t it? The fun, laughing at yourself as you learn and try new things in life at any age. 

If you had to pick 3 people for a party wave who would they be & why?

If I could party wave with 3 people it would probably be Kassia Meador, because she’s so lovely in real life, and has such grace and joy in her surfing and is a gentle bad ass. My best friend & soul sister Rande because everything in life is better with her by my side. The last person would be a beginner. 

Someone who has never experienced their first ride longer that 30 seconds. 

The spectrum, the awe and inspiration of Kassia, the kismet connection of my best friend and the first time joy and smile of someone accomplishing one of their goals. That would be the ultimate party wave! 

What's a motto you live by?

  • If at first you don’t succeed, laugh until you do! 
  • Buy some sunglasses cuz the future’s looking’ bright! 
  • I’ll try anything twice!  
Explore Surf Sweat Serve with Pixie Acia→
"Pixie's fitness adventure retreat nourished me, challenged me, and left me feeling more whole than I could have imagined."  
Pixie Acia Retreat
Surf Sweat Serve Pixie Acia
Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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