It’s been a year since we caught up with Austin Hair. From expanding his 9 Round Kickboxing business to shaping a new board, 2016 is looking like it's going to be a good year for him.
WW: So what’s new with you, Austin?
AH: Everything is great! It’s been such a good off season of traveling and staying super busy with 9 Round. So far this off season, I’ve been on a cruise to the Bahamas with Supra, Dubai with Jobe and X-Games in Aspen.
WW: How is 9 Round going? Are you planning on opening another location any time soon?
AH: It’s going great. We’ve been super busy lately and working out there has helped my riding so much. I attribute making finals this year to my off-water training. And, yes, we are all set to open our second location in Oviedo, Florida on March 4th, 2016!
WW: Awesome! Is it hard to manage the gym while you are traveling so much?
AH: Yeah, it’s definitely difficult. It takes up a lot of time and effort, but to me it’s completely worth it. No matter what your sport, if you’re a professional athlete, sooner or later you’ll need to start thinking about life after sports. I like to start thinking about it sooner. Plus, it's an extremely exciting challenge.
WW: Do you think you will stay in Orlando forever?
AH: That’s a great question. Many people ask me this and I don’t really have an answer. I love it here, but if I got a great opportunity somewhere else I wouldn’t mind packing up for a new adventure. So the answer in a nutshell is no, I can see myself moving at some point.
WW: What does a typical day look like for you right now in Orlando?
AH: Since it’s been the off-season, I haven’t been riding as hard as I would during mid-season. Generally, I’ll spend 4-5 hours at 9 Round training people and trying to squeeze in workouts, and I’ll ride 2-4 times a week depending on the weather. The opening of a new location has definitely kept me preoccupied as well. It takes a lot of time and money, haha.
WW: What tips do you have for staying fit and motivated through the off-season?
AH: The key is finding something sustainable. Some people go super ham and burn themselves out real quick. You don’t need to see changes overnight, but you do need to have specific goals and metrics you can hit. For me it's just hitting the gym 4-5 times a week. If I miss a day a couple days, I don’t use that as an excuse to stop. Keep your head up and hit the gym the next day. Stay consistent.
WW: Are there any specific moves that you think help with your riding or is it more about staying lean?
AH: I think that it's about staying lean and keeping your speed and reflexes up. We do a lot of pad work combinations, so that helps keep me fit and fast.
WW: What are your goals for 2016?
AH: I want to be in the top five of the World Series and Pro tour. Last year, I was sitting in third before they lost my board bag in Portugal! I also want to release a good video edit with some different tricks I’ve been having fun with.
WW: Haha, that happened to me too! Did you ever get any compensation from the airline?
AH: Hah! As of right now, I haven’t received any compensation. Still fighting though.
WW: Have you started filming with anyone yet?
AH: I have started filming just little bits and pieces, but once it's warmer I plan to film a lot more.
WW: What events are you planning to attend this year?
AH: I’m planning on doing all of the Supra Pro Tour stops, as well as all of the World Series stops. We’ve also got Jobe and Supra team shoots in the Southeast this year that should be pretty fun.
WW: You’re currently shaping a new board with Jobe. How is that going?
AH: It’s going great. We spent some time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi riding it behind the boat and the cable. We’re designing it primarily as a boat board, but it’s got great flex in the tip and tail. It also has added channels to increase speed and make landings softer. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to start riding it.
WW: Sweet! Does it have a name?
AH: As of now we’re still working on the new name.
WW: How was the trip to Dubai?
AH: Dubai is probably the most interesting city in the world. I’ve been there four times and I still don’t understand how their economy functions, hah! We were there for board shaping, but we got to do a lot of tourist things too. I was stoked to get some photos in front of the Burj Al Arab finally. It was also my first time in the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, despite this being my fourth trip.
WW: Do you have any other trips you’re looking forward to?
AH: Stuff always pops up last minute, so it's hard to say what will come. I’m for sure looking forward to going back to Portugal for the World Series stop.
WW: Portugal seems like it was a favorite for most of the riders. Why did you like it last year?
AH: I liked it because I had never been there, so I made sure to travel around and experience the culture. Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe. It was a really unique experience to visit the castles and be able to physically lay my hands on a piece of history.
WW: What country that you’ve visited, in your opinion, has the best culture and why?
AH: That is a tough question, but I love Brazil. The people there are so friendly and they are super pumped about wakeboarding. Any time we come to town for an event they treat us really well and it’s a group of people that would give you the shirt off their back.
WW: Have you had a chance to travel around much of Brazil?
AH: Yeah, I’ve gotten to go to Manaus, Sao Paulo, Sao Jose dos Campos, Rio De Janeiro, Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte. Wakeboarding on the Amazon river in Manaus was amazing, and you can always find flat water at Igarata in Sao Jose dos Campos.
WW: What is the best piece of advice you received when you were up and coming?
AH: The best piece of advice was that I needed to ride all the time no matter what. It’s easy to think it’s too cold or too hot or too windy. Going out on the water every day and always finding something to work on really helped me.
WW: Seems like that’s Harley’s strategy too. How many times do you try to ride a day?
AH: I try and ride just once most days. However, about once or twice a week I like to take two sets a day.
WW: If you could pick one rider that keeps you constantly inspired, who would it be?
AH: That’s a hard one, but I think it’d be Danny Harf on the boat because he keeps learning new stuff despite how long he’s been doing it. Daniel Grant on the cable side because he can do whatever he wants, and then Raph for just doing both.
WW: What’s your favorite sport when you’re not wakeboarding?
AH: Snowboarding, for sure. It’s so fun. I was lucky enough to go to Aspen the last two years in a row and I plan on making it an annual thing. It also really helps you think of new ideas for wakeboarding, which is cool.
WW: Do you think snowboarding is a lot harder? I always seem to fall really hard whenever I go, haha.
AH: Yeah, I definitely fall way harder snowboarding. It’s funny though because an edge catch on a wakeboard hurts a lot more than most snowboard falls because you go from 35 to 0 real quick. But the average snowboard fall hurts a lot more than the average wakeboard fall.
WW: Where do you see yourself in five years?
AH: In five years I’ll probably be phased out of the contest scene, but still involved in wakeboarding. I plan to continue to open up more 9 Rounds as well as housing rentals, but I could never see myself stopping wakeboarding. I’ll always ride for fun and it’s a passion of mine.
WW: Sounds like a pretty smart plan. Thanks for taking the time to do this and I hope everything goes well with the new location! Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
AH: I’d like to thank Supra, Jobe, Elevated, Zinka and Nectar.