Stand-Up Paddling (SUP) is my new favorite core workout! If you're not familiar with it, it's a combination of surfing and canoe paddling. It originated in Hawai'i (no wonder I love it!) a long time ago but has been rejuvenated over the past few years.
I have wanted to try this for the past few summers and never quite got around to it. I even put it on my Summer Things To Do List. So when Facebook Deals offered a 3-hour class for 2, I immediately bought it! Layla had expressed some interest in trying it out as well, so I invited her to join me!
I signed us up for last Saturday's class that was hosted by Aquan Sports.
I was quite nervous on Friday night. I wasn't sure what to expect and was worried that I may not be able to do it. Perhaps I should have watched this video beforehand:
On Saturday morning I wasn't sure what to wear. We were told to just be "ready to swim." The weather was foggy and cold so I decided to wear a tankini (so I wouldn't fidget with my swim suit), board shorts and a long-sleeved running shirt (it's wicking, right?).
The site of the class was a mile from my house, but when I got there, Gary, the instructor decided to move it to Foster City - which is about 2 miles from my house. We were each given a personal flotation device (PFD); i.e. life vests. I zipped that thing up so tight there was no way I'd drown. :)
We were each assigned a surfboard according to our size...
And Layla and I were given our paddles.
Gary and Bob (his assistant) showed us how to use the paddle and told us that trick to paddling was to keep it vertical.
They had us start out by kneeling on the surfboards so we could get used to be on the water and get the hang of paddling.
I started out and picked up the paddling thing really quickly. I had no problem paddling in a straight line, kinda like how these videos demonstrate:
As I paddled, I kept going further away from the dock. Then I realized that I didn't know how to turn or stop -- and went into panic mode.
I was out of sight of anyone else from our class and was heading straight towards a rock wall.
Apartments surround the lagoon that we were in and just as I was about to slam into the wall, a guy walked out of his apartment. He quickly assessed what was going on and just stood there watching the collision, as if in slow motion. Awesome. I'm just glad that he didn't whip out his camera and film the whole thing.
I can take pride in the fact that I didn't fall off the board when I rammed into the wall. Instead, I used the impact to turn the board and start paddling back to the group. It was about this time that Layla came looking for me and gave me tips on how to turn.
Eventually I figured out that to should have been taking wider strokes and/or back paddle (which makes the board turn faster). I paddled around for a bit longer until my knees couldn't take the kneeling anymore, so I paddled back to the dock to take a break.
By this time, everyone was successfully standing on their surfboard and were encouraging me to do so as well. But I was still afraid. So Bob put me on a wider surfboard...
and held the board steady for me while I got situated on it.
From the very moment he pushed me out, I felt totally comfortable. It was so much easier than standing. I felt balanced and steady the entire time.
I paddled around the lagoon and saw something floating in the water. I thought it was some kind of water creative and started to freak out. Turns out it was a dog fetching a stick that his owner threw in the water. LOL!
It was so much fun and relaxing to just paddle around and try the different paddling techniques. I practiced my turning and got much better at it.
Then the winds picked up and there a mini current - it definitely made it more challenging. I can't even imagine how much more challenging it must be in the ocean.
I found out that there are weekly open SUP sessions at the aquatic park near my house where I can rent the gear. I am definitely going to do this again - and again - and again. I am hooked!
PS Here’s a good article (and the source of the videos) with more info on how to get started SUP.