Stand Up Paddle Trainer at Blue Planet Surf



I was at Blue Planet Surf’s Ward Ave. store and Robert Stehlik showed me a SUP trainer he developed using components from a rowing machine. Robert gave an overview of the SUP training machine and I tested it out along with another customer named Peter.

On the low resistance setting, the trainer was pretty easy but once Robert increased the resistance, I started sweating bullets. You can get a pretty realistic workout from this trainer in a short period of time. It was a tougher workout than I expected and I had to stand in front of the fan afterwards to cool off because my shirt was soaked with sweat.

The SUP trainer has a realistic feel. This is a great way to help someone’s paddle stroke on land. I think in under 30 minutes, if you have the right person helping you, the improvement in your stroke will be dramatic. I was talking with my friend Bill who is a very accomplished OC-1 paddler and he said that fly wheel ergo rowing trainers sometimes aren’t realistic because the momentum maintained in the flywheel makes the stroke too easy. The water resistance in the SUP trainer that Robert showed me felt much more realistic than the rowing trainer without it. Either way, both are better than nothing and if you can get an experienced paddler to coach your stroke at the same time, I’m sure the results will be worth the effort.

If you can’t afford one of these, you can always stop by the Blue Planet Store on Ward Ave (Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii) and try it out for yourself.

Check out the videos below:

Part 1

(click thumbnail to launch video)

Part 2

(click thumbnail to launch video)

Part 3

(click thumbnail to launch video)


stand-up-paddle-trainer-at-blue-planet-surf-11 Robert Stehlik demoing the SUP trainer

stand-up-paddle-trainer-at-blue-planet-surf-05 Me trying it out

Robert issued a challenge in the video for someone to beat his personal best time on the SUP trainer and he’ll give that person a $100 gift certificate. Here’s the info below:

Take the Paddle training simulator challenge
Beat the current record time on 2km distance and receive a $100 Blue Planet gift card.

You can take challenge anytime during store hours if the store is not too busy, with the assistance of a store employee.
To challenge record time, you have to qualify by doing 500m sprint at record pace (less than ¼ of 2000m (2km) record time)
Current record time on 2km is ___________, set by________________________
Current qualifying time is ____________ on 500m distance.
After distance is set on monitor by Blue Planet employee, timer starts automatically when you start paddling and stops when distance is completed.
Level on monitor and dial are to be set at level 9. Paddle can be adjusted to any length.
Feet must be on balance board for entire time. Paddle stroke must resemble regular SUP stroke, hands must be on shaft and palm grip.
One attempt per challenger per week only, no gift certificate for breaking own record.
We reserve the right to ban anyone from using the simulator. Use the simulator at your own risk, take care to avoid damage. Dangerous, rude, reckless behavior is not tolerated.
If you break the current record and receive a $100 gift certificate, you agree to let Blue Planet take pictures, video, and interview to be used for promotional purposes.

Tips: Shortest paddle length is easiest to pull. Take full strokes as monitor might not record very short strokes. Pull cable straight out from machine and recover same way (see illustration). Avoid recovering faster than cable retracts.

Paddle training simulator, by Robert Stehlik

When I started racing SUP competitively, I realized that to get faster and be one of the top racers, I would have to put in more training time.
Downwinders are the most fun and we are lucky to live in Honolulu where we have the Hawaii Kai to Waikiki run, a nice downwinder. It usually takes us less than 1.5 hours to complete the paddle but with shuttling cars between start and finish, loading and unloading boards and gear, showering, changing, etc., it usually takes more than 4 hours to do this. I have a business and family so for me to do a downwinder more than once or twice a week is not realistic, so I was looking for ways to get a paddle workout in less time. I started doing round trip sprints which take less time but was still not able to do this on a daily basis. So, I used a paddle shaft from a paddle with a broken blade and attached a hook to it. I built a pulley weight system to hook up to it and the first SUP paddle trainer was born. I found this setup worked well for strength training with heavier weights. Most gyms have pulley weight systems and if you have a training paddle shaft you can hook it up to any cable weight system. I also tried stretch cords, which also provides a good workout. The drawback of the pulley and stretch cords is that they provide resistance during the pull and the recovery which is not a realistic simulation of the paddle stroke, where you only have resistance on the pull, not the recovery.
So, I started researching rowing machines (that provide resistance only on the pull) to be modified into a SUP trainer.

A friend told me to check out the First Degree Fitness E-216 model and I found it to be the most suitable as a SUP trainer for the following reasons:

Cable pulley: Some machines, like the popular Concept 2 rowers, work with a chain drive, which is fine for rowing as the pull is straight out but not for SUP training as the pull is diagonally to the sides, which puts too much strain on a chain. The E-216 has a tough Dyneema cable (rope) that works well.

Adjustable water resistance: The water level in the resistance chamber can be adjusted instantly with a lever, which allows the resistance to be changed quickly for different users or workout intensity. SUP training requires a lower resistance than rowing training, so it’s important to be able to adjust the resistance. The water level in most water rowers can be lowered manually but only the First Degree Fitness rowers allow instant adjustments. The water resistance provides a realistic catch, power phase, and recovery. The moving water in the tank even sounds much like a real stroke. We sell this model for $1599 including free shipping to any US address (unmodified rowing machine).

To make the experience more realistic, I built a balance board that simulates the balancing required on a board. After some experimentation and prototyping, I came up with a design that works well. It allows side to side balancing but will not twist or rotate. I modified the rower by removing the seat and track assembly and replaced the rower bar with the SUP paddle shaft.

That’s it. It works surprisingly well and can provide a quick full body workout anytime. If you are in Honolulu, come by the Blue Planet Surf Shop on Ward Ave. to try it out. When you are ready, take the 2km challenge and win a $100 gift card if you can break the record.

The trainer paddle is available at our shop for $99, or order it for $125 including shipping to anywhere in the US at:

The complete SUP training simulator including modified Rowing machine, trainer paddle, and balance board is available on request.

For more information, call Blue Planet Surf Shop
Ward location: 808 596 7755 or Kapahulu location: 808 922 5444

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4 Responses to “Stand Up Paddle Trainer at Blue Planet Surf”

  1. Harns 1Harns

    Really cool. Thinking about buying one.

  2. Robert 2Robert

    Hi Harns,
    We are working on putting together an affordable home trainer. For now we sell the paddle trainer shaft and can modify a rowing machine.
    You can get a great full body/ core workout in a short time and it translates to faster time on the water.

  3. ElipticalSwimmer 3ElipticalSwimmer

    [..YouTube..] I stopped in today and actually did learn a lot in about 5 minutes on the trainer with Robert giving me some instruction. Very cool machine!

  4. Robert 4Robert

    We are now offering the Paddle Core Trainer, a SUP simulator kit that includes the adjustable paddle shaft, balance board, stretch cords, accessories and instructional DVD. Available now at Blue Planet Surf Shop for $199, $30 flat rate shipping in the US.
    For more information:

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