As winter is upon us, we should probably be looking into skiing and ice skating as alternative ways to stay in shape. But as a final salute to summer and for those lucky enough to live in warmer climes or heading for some vacation time under the sun, let’s talk about standup paddling. Standup has been around since the 1960s, but has only gone mainstream in the last few years. It involves a 12-foot surfboard and a canoe-style paddle and apart from being a fun activity—it’s arguably the best natural overall workout you’re ever going to get.
Standup paddling works your legs, shoulders, abs, core and stamina from the moment you get on the board and paddle away. Whether you are making your first strides on a calm lake or are a more experienced surfer paddling on breaking waves, standup will boost your physique while at the same time calming you down. Because it requires a healthy dose of concentration to keep you from falling over, you’ll find you’ll have no time to worry about your everyday troubles. It’s the perfect balance between exercise and relaxation.
The great thing about standup paddling is that you can learn it under controlled circumstances and then take it as far as you want to. So before charging the breaking waves at your local beach, it’s best to master the basic technique and balance dynamics in a less challenging environment like a lake or sheltered bay.
If you’re a standup beginner, start with a big board of around 12 feet. A big and wide board will give you the stability you need to get going. Stand in the centre of the board with your feet parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart. The paddle movement is similar to what you might recognize from paddling in a canoe. Hold the paddle with one hand at the top and one in the middle. Reach out in front of you as far as you can, fully submerge the blade and pull back. No need to stroke further back than where you’re standing. Take the paddle out of the water to the side and repeat the stroke. At first, you’ll be switching hands a lot, but later on you’ll learn how to balance the board to keep going in a straight line without switching all the time.
That’s it, you’re standup paddling! And don’t forget to enjoy the scenery and marine life below you!