Discover Stand Up Paddleboarding
Do you know what's SUP? Well, I think if you love water, a good core workout and a little bit of a challenge, then read on....
As a outdoor adventure writer and fitness professional, I get to try many new things, but I have to say that stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the most surprisingly fun and easy sports I have experienced. You may not have heard much about this relatively new water sport, but it is catching on quickly here in the Upper Valley. One of the reasons - our numerous flat and easily accessible lakes and ponds make this a perfect location for throwing your boar on the water and going. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more people participating in this enjoyable way to paddle the water while getting in a great workout.
What is SUP? Well, the best way to describe it is standing on a surfboard and balancing while navigating with a long canoe type paddle. Now don't’ let that discourage you. I thought for sure the first time I tried it I would be falling off into the slightly chilly water of Storrs Pond and make a fool of myself. with proper instruction, the right equipment and transitioning yourself from kneeling to standing, I and everyone else in the SUP class were able to stay afloat, paddle around easily, and even try a few different strokes and position changes.
How do you do it? Getting started is easy, but as with any new sport, it is best to get instruction. A good instructor can teach you quickly and safely as well as out you on the right kind of equipment. In this case, it is a SUP, sized based on your weight, a paddle and a PDF. Since a quality SUP costs about $1,000, I recommend trying this out as well as several types of boards before investing in equipment. From what I have researched, BIC makes some of the best and most durable SUP’s on the market.
Starting by kneeling on the board and paddling, you can get a feel for the level of stability and effort needed to propel yourself around. Once you are comfortable, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hinging slightly at the hips with your knees bent straddling the handle in the center of the board. To paddle right, place your left hand on the top of the paddle and use it to place the paddle slightly in front of you. Then drive your arms back toward your waist with a slight twist on our abdomen, keeping your arms straight and bracing your core throughout the stroke. You’ll feel this workout more so than other paddle sports, as you are using nearly every muscle from your shoulders to your feet and most of all the core.
Where can you learn? There are a few places to get instruction in this area. I had a fantastic experience at one of LL Bean’s SUP Discovery Courses at Storrs Pond in Hanover (they now have the course at Kilowatt Park). Our instructor Dave was thorough in explaining everything about safety and basic techniques and we all picked it up quickly. Paddling on the quiet waters of the pond, we learned how to turn and maneuver and gained confidence to try various strokes and move around the board. Coming back to the beach, I think we all could have stayed out the whole afternoon!
Why SUP? According to Karen Dalury, a SUP instructor in Killington, "If you are a water lover I know you will love Stand up Paddle. Standing, sitting, kneeling, lying down, doing yoga or diving in for a dip and easily climbing back on, the versatility of SUP is amazing. It is not only peaceful and relaxing but a great workout (with proper technique you will find muscles you didn't know you had). Because you are balancing you need to stay present which creates a fantastic opportunity for a moving meditation. Anyone who can sit, kneel, or stand can do it but the more you refine your technique the more fun it becomes.”
Again, I highly recommend taking a lesson or clinic to gain the skills needed and to understand which type of board is right for you. It is a great sport for kids, families, and really any athletic ability. You will hopefully find, like I did, that this is a lot easier than you expect, even more fun and something you can really get into. If you’re looking for something new to try or want something a little different than your usual routine of kayaking or canoeing, it’s time to try SUP.
LL Bean Intro to SUP $55 (see website for dates and to register)
Killington Yoga private and semi-private lessons, group clinics and tours (killingtonyoga.com or (802) 422-4500)