Stand Up Paddling

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Stand Up Paddling
Click to view this article in the Summer 2015 issue of ADVENTURESS magazine.

That’s what’ SUP!

By Katie Gilbert

Stand up paddling has dominated as one of the fastest growing sports worldwide over the last five years. What is stand up paddling, or SUP, as it is also known? It is as simple as paddling on an overgrown surfboard while standing up.

Although relatively new to the mainland, native islanders have been standing while paddling for centuries; it was only natural that SUP would eventually catch on all around the world. Catch on it has! It seems you cannot drive past your local lake without seeing stand up paddlers out on the water. If you were to ask one of those local paddlers why they love this sport, you may hear words like simplicity, versatility, total body workout and just plain fun!

A Calling for Women

The simplicity of SUP is due to the activity only requiring a board, lifejacket, paddle and leash. This is an element that has made women a major force in the sport. Women as competent paddlers is nothing new, as we have always been water lovers, yet some ladies have experienced discontent with the size and weight of canoes and kayaks. Problem solved with SUP!

A good board weighs between 25 to 35 pounds, making it very easy to carry a board to and from the water. Also, you do not need a special, expensive rack on your car to transport your board. This convenience is opening up paddling to a whole new group of women.

Endless Possibilities

The versatility of SUP derives from the unlimited ways you can participate in the sport. Paddle while standing, sit on the board or lay down and work on your tan. Put your life-vested toddler or dog on the front of your board and let them enjoy a day on the water with you.

Although many think of surfing when they think of stand up paddling, SUP can be done on any body of water. Ponds, lakes, rivers, oceans… you name it and someone has SUPed it! Use your board as a platform to swim, fish or bowfish. I have even seen people duck hunt from their SUP board (yes, they make them in camo)!

Looking for a fun workout? Stand up paddle may just be what you are looking for. SUP is primarily a core workout, but it sure doesn’t miss the opportunity to hit your legs and arms. Not to mention that you can take your yoga practice and fitness routine onto your board. SUP Yoga and SUP Fit classes are selling out all over the country. Who doesn’t want to have fun and forget you are working out?

Where to Begin

How do you get started in stand up paddling? Buying your own board and paddle can be pricey, but what’s great is you don’t necessarily need your own board and paddle. Many community lakes around the country are now offering stand up paddleboard rentals by the hour or for the day. Try doing a quick Internet search of your local area.

Although a lesson is not 100 percent necessary, it is always a good idea if you’re new to SUP. With a beginner lesson, you will learn the essentials to help you enjoy your time on the water, not to mention learning the safety aspects of the sport, which is always a great idea. A good certified instructor should be able to prepare you and your family for a lifetime of stand up paddling enjoyment!

Looking the Part

Now that you are ready to tackle a class or rent a board, what do you wear? I personally love to SUP barefoot, but some conditions require water shoes or sandals. If your local water hole is filled with rocks instead of being blessed with white sandy beaches, you are going to want your water shoes!

Getting wet while paddling is always a possibility, so try to wear fast drying sports clothes or your swimsuit. Most importantly, remember that the sun is always hotter out on the water so please don’t forget the sunscreen and your water bottle! It is also a good idea to bring along a towel and change of clothes so you will be comfortable on your drive home.

To put is simply, SUP is just good, healthy fun! It is an activity you can use to steal away some much-needed time for yourself. Sneaking away into nature to restore your sanity and find some solace.

If you are more of the social type, use SUP as way to have a blast with a group of friends or family.  Lawn chairs, coolers and a bonfire on the beach, while everyone plays on the boards, is what summer is all about! If you are anything like me, this summer will include a little bit of both.

That is what makes stand up paddling so great; it molds to fit your lifestyle. Take that step and try SUP today – you will love it!

Katie Gilbert of Iowa is a wife, mom and the owner of No Coast Stand Up LLC. She is a certified Water Safety and SUP Instructor with the World Paddle Association. Katie loves the outdoors and believes that watersports are a great way to get your family outside. NoCoastStandUp.com