In recent years, it’s become nearly impossible to take a trip to the beach or drive on a bayfront road during the summer months and not see someone out in the water, standing up on a giant board, swinging a singular paddle across their body, gliding across the water.
Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP for short, marries the best parts of surfing and kayaking into one core-stimulating activity that hardly seems like exercise. Utilizing a longboard and outrigger paddles, SUPers stand up on the board and paddle. The challenge comes in that you’re standing on an unstable platform, forcing you to tap into your core strength while improving your cardio fitness, balance, and flexibility.
And consumers are picking up on the trend. It’s become the fastest growing water sport in the world, as Cody White, certified PaddleFit instructor and co-founder of Finger Lakes Paddleboard pointed out that SUP gear sales have increased by approximately 200% in the last year. And it doesn’t discriminate: paddleboarding welcomes all ages and fitness-levels, and the community of paddleboarders is only growing, offering races, meetups, and classes across the United States.
Originating in Hawaii in the 1960s as a method for the Beach Boys of Waikiki to get a better view of the surf, the sport didn’t really take off until the 2000s, when pro surfers started utilizing the activity to remain active in the water when the ocean was too calm to surf. And the best thing about paddleboarding? You don’t need an ocean to do it.
“The beauty of paddleboarding is that you can do it on an ocean, lake, and even a river,” said White.
Another great thing about paddleboarding is that you don’t need to be a seasoned athlete or insanely fit individual to try it out. In fact, the key to paddleboarding has nothing to do with strength or level of expertise, and rather technique. Stance, knowing how to correctly interact with the board and paddle in conjunction with the water, as well as knowing how to both dis- and remount the board are all more valuable than if you were a professional athlete.
The best advice for beginners? Invest in a lesson. You will be taught the fundamental basic techniques to get you comfortably moving on your paddleboard, and in no time, you’ll be practicing paddleboard yoga!