Got water? Try standup paddling

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This article was originally published by The Calgary Herald. Read the original article here: http://www.calgaryherald.com/water+standup+paddling/1090228/story.html

Pete Estabrooks
For The Calgary Herald

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There are few more invigorating ways to spend time than releasing yourself from the bonds of gravity flying across the body of water and frolicking a day away.

Maybe it’s an offshoot of the old “we’re composed mostly of water” theory or the idea that we all evolved from water creatures–or perhaps it’s just that increasing our sense of weightlessness that makes things so darn easy.

I know it’s awfully cold out there to bring this activity up, but trust me: pop this on your New Year’s resolution list and start making plans to add a whole lot of fun to your spring/summer core stability training. Better still, start training your balance and core stability now and make your transition a breeze.

What Is It?

Standup paddling is the fastest growing and easiest-to-master water sport going. It has all the fun of full-tilt surfing or canoeing with the safety of training wheels.

Whether it’s a derivative of early Polynesian culture or an offshoot of Hawaiian beach-boys, the idea is the same –and having no ocean is no limitation. Anywhere you can float a boat or kayak is now a viable waterway for adventure.

This activity uses a long, wide surfboard on which you kneel or stand, using a single long paddle to provide propulsion and balance. The basics are simple to pick up and the physical benefits run the spectrum from cardiovascular conditioning to muscular endurance to balance and stability.

Once you have gotten over the fear of falling or floating away, the mental benefits range from peace and serenity, to confidence on water.

Who Would This Appeal To?

Paddle boards will appeal to people who include the great outdoors and fun as prerequisites for fitness training. It will also appeal to those who need a low-impact alternative for their cardiovascular and core stability training. As a family activity, it’s a killer way to introduce your children to water safety while keeping them at arm’s reach.

Who Would Hate It?

If your phobia of choice is water, you will hate this.

The Klutz Factor

The klutz factor will vary, depending on how and where you begin standup paddling. Without lessons from a competent instructor, it’s a recipe for a wet body, frustration and foul language.

It’s not that paddle boarding (as it’s also known) is hugely difficult to master. But if you get a few salient tips early enough in the game, they make the whole process easier to grasp and enjoy. Start easy, with a pool, a lake or gently moving river, and then move with baby strokes to rivers and waves. Oh yes–and for legal and safety reasons, always wear a life-jacket.

What Do You Need?

The basics include a board, a leash and a paddle. For local paddling, the season is short but can easily be extended with a wetsuit, booties and gloves.

Where Do I Find It?

On Kauai, the basics of paddle boarding are at your fingertips at Hawaiian Surfing Adventures on Hanalai Bay. Team Alapa has the equipment and know-how to get you up and confident in no time flat.

There, you hone your skills on a calm river and then tempt fate and increase your excitement by taking your board out to the bay and the beginner waves by the wharf. Call 1-808-482-0749 or e-mail mitchell@hawaiiansurfingadventures.com.

For those of us more landlocked but equally enthusiastic, Calgary’s Rednik Surf Shop (Suite 9, 10 Richard Way S. W.) is starting the Calgary Stand-Up Paddleboard Club after Christmas. Lisa Then or Tyler Penner are the contacts: 403-685-4600; rednik.com or surfrednik@shaw.ca

What Are The Costs?

The initial investment into this sport will be a big one, so it’s a good idea to get in touch with Red Nik and ask about board rentals/lessons to make sure this doesn’t become an expensive, though interesting coffee table and accessories.

Good standup boards will start at about $1,100 (and go up to $2,500); throw in the leash and paddle for another $150 and you are good to go, from late May through the end of September. Surfing on either side of that window will call for the wetsuit-glove-bootie combo for an additional $375.

The Bottom Line

Paddle boarding is sun, fun and freedom wrapped up in the guise of exercise: look for it to catch on big.

Pete Estabrooks, The Fitness Guy Is A Personal Trainer And Writer Plying His Trade In Calgary At Pro-bodies Fitness In Marda Loop And Virtually Everywhere In The World From Petesclass.com

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