I first saw SUP on Facebook: a friend posted a picture of herself standing on a fiberglass board on a lake in Vermont. This didn’t make sense: we don’t have waves or surf, the water looked calm, and she was holding a long canoe paddle. What’s going on? Stand up paddleboarding!
How to SUP
SUPing may have started on the surf-crazed beaches of Hawaii in the 1960’s, but it’s only recently caught on as a fun exercise in non-surfing communities. While learning to surf takes lessons, strength, and skill; SUPing can be enjoyed on your own in just a few minutes. All you need is a paddle board, a SUP paddle that is 5-7 inches longer than your height, and some quiet water.
First, the fun factor. You just can’t help laughing out loud as you slowly move from kneeling on all fours to standing. SUP with a friend or group, and everybody has a great time watching each other quickly master standing and paddling. Kathryn Vanderminden of Wells, VT learned to SUP from a friend. Once she figured out where to place her feet for the best balance, she felt confident enough to paddle around a small island in Lake St. Catherine. She recommends starting off in waist-deep water since it takes a few tumbles into the water before you gain your balance. IdahoPaddleboarding.com provides basic SUP tips and videos to get you started.
Not Your Typical Core Workout
Bored with your weekly Pilates or yoga class? SUP engages every one of your core muscles plus sweeping the paddle side-to-side through the water works your upper body. Vanderminden’s friend Becky loads her two young children on her board for extra weight resistance and a more difficult upper body workout.
According to a 2011 survey at SUPthemag.com, 60% of SUPers taught themselves and 25% learned from a friend. It’s that easy! Almost 80% have friends who SUP, making it not only a fantastic form of exercise, but also a fun and social activity.
Gail Acosta of Peru, VT picked up SUPing from her daughter on a visit to North Carolina and continues to SUP on quiet Vermont lakes. She recommends starting out on lakes or ponds without power boats with no boat wakes to deal with. Acosta loves the outdoor full-body workout with friends or by herself.
Where to SUP
SUPing can be loud and boisterous with a group or quiet and contemplative on your own. Pick a quiet, calm lake surrounded by mountains for a zen-like SUP experience. SUP on the Charles River in Boston or Chicago on Lake Michigan and enjoy a different view of the city. Look for a SUP short or long distance race, join a SUP sunset tour or take a SUP yoga class.
The American Canoe Association trains SUP instructors, offers classes, and even hosts a national Paddlesports Conference November 2-4, 2012 in Charleston, SC where you can take part in guided trips, races or SUP yoga.