I’m all for any activity that gives me a workout, but I’m especially drawn to the water and have been my whole life. Wakeboarding, surfing, swimming, just being around water makes me happy. So, it naturally made sense that stand-up paddle boarding would become among my favourite activities to take part in. It’s an incredible way to combine watersports, family fun, and a great workout.
Stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP, to save me constantly writing it out) is taking the water sports world by storm, and for good reason. Not only is it a great way to be outdoors and close to water, but it does you the world of good in terms of cardio-vascular work (depending on how fast you’re willing to go), resistance training, and muscle toning.
It’s safe, something that the whole family can enjoy and it requires no training, whatsoever, just a little balance, co-ordination and a willingness to explore the waters!
Benefits Of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
I’ve already said that SUP is a great workout, and it certainly is, but what parts of the body will benefit?
- Fantastic core workout! Anything that requires balance also requires that your core be fully locked and loaded to help you keep your positioning correct. Keeping your core tight will also strengthen your paddling
- It’s low impact, meaning that your joints won’t suffer from any excessive pounding or jarring movements
- It’s a great inland alternative to surfing, if you are longing for a chance to work your favourite break or are too afraid to surf, SUP is a much easier alternative. Like surfing there is a lot of upper-body strength that goes into making it work. Shoulders, back, arms and chest are all working, while your legs stabilise and core keeps you centred
- It’s also a workout for your mind as a great stress reliever. If you’ve had a tough week, look to SUP for a way to release the tension and increase your zen
Stay Standing Up On A SUP
If you’re new to SUP and feel a little unbalanced, start on your buttocks and treat it as a canoe. Once you feel the flow and get used to the balance, move up onto your knees. When you’re comfortable there, stand up.
The key in any position is to keep your weight balanced in the centre of the board. There is a hand hold gap in the very centre of the board. You need to place both feet on either side of this gap with your toes pointing forward. If you lean too far to one side, you will fall off that side too. But after a few falls, you will learn pretty quickly how to stay balanced. The best part? You are felling into water, so it’s not going to hurt.
With regards to the actual paddling, keep your core muscles tight and use strong, firm strokes dipping the paddle just into the water. If you dip it in too deep, you won’t get good movement out of it. If you go in too shallow, you won’t move anywhere. Play around with this until you get it right. Paddle evenly on each side to go straight and keep moving.
Turning And Stopping
To turn, paddle only on the side you want to turn towards until you’ve turned as much as you want to go. To stop, put your paddle in behind you and push forward. You will also start to turn to that side, but you will also slow down. Incidentally, this is also a great way to turn around quickly.
Be Aware Of Currents
You might find you move really quickly in one direction because a current is carrying you. Where this is the case, remember that you might need to travel back against that current, so plan accordingly and make sure you can handle it.
Where Can You Get Your SUP On?
Most places that have a body of water would be smart to implement a SUP rental space. I’ve rented SUPs at the coast and inland, and have seen them in most watersports places that I’ve visited. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to go out on the ocean on a rental SUP if there are large breakers coming in. Look to the lagoons and estuaries for the perfect spot to get your SUP on.
My favourite SUP experience was in Thailand in Shark Bay. I saw shark fins swimming ahead of me (black-tipped reef sharks) as I paddled out, which was exhilerating, and was also treated to a visit from a turtle. Take your snorkel and mask with you and jump in for a little underwater treat too!
If you really don’t know where to find your nearest SUP station, the best option is to Google SUP rental near you, or SUP near you, and see what comes up. Don’t be scared to give it a bash. I can almost guarantee you will fall in love like I did!