Do you even SUP? If you haven’t tried stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) yet you’re seriously missing out on a fun, full-body workout which you can do year-round. Our senior health and fitness writer Larissa Yu recently attended a lush SUPYoga retreat and here’s why she’s now saving up for her own board:
1. It’s way easier than it looks
I’ve seen those people stand-up paddling around Sydney harbour looking all serene and relaxed and thought to myself, “How the HELL are they even staying upright – that looks so hard?!”. It’s actually not. I am one of the most uncoordinated people I know, especially when it comes to exercise, and I only fell off once all weekend. And that was when I was stationary lol. I used a Red Paddle Co inflatable board which was rock-hard (it felt like a hard board), super-light (I carried it with one hand) and very stable. It felt more like a boat than a board at times, it was actually huge – I was on the 10’8” Activ board which is perfect for yoga, pilates and fitness fans.
TIP: Build your confidence slowly and start by sitting down on your board and paddling, then graduate to kneeling and finally standing up. I was upright within a couple of hours and loving it! The advantage to standing up is your strokes can be broader and you paddle with more power so you can go faster. For maximum effectiveness, always make sure that your paddle is facing the right way and that you immerse it fully in the water before pulling.
2. It’s a great workout and also super-relaxing
Like many people, I assumed SUP was mainly upper-body work. Nope. This is an effective low impact full-body resistance workout which will work your arms and shoulders (paddling against the water), core and legs (for balance) and back (you will be putting your back into every stroke). If you’re paddling up a river, you’ll find yourself so distracted by the beautiful scenery that a couple of hours solid cardio will go by without you even realising it. You are constantly working on the board. We broke up the paddling by anchoring our boards and doing a 30-minute SUPYoga class and then paddling back home. This is more exercise in half a day than I would probably do all week at home! The sound of the water lapping, your rhythmic paddle strokes and the wind rushing past is soothing and meditative. Even when paddling in groups, you’re often somewhat separated so have alone time to think and enjoy nature. Not to mention the calming effect of large bodies of water (whether river or ocean) and those good negative ions which help relax you.
3. Once you stand up, you’ll be hooked
Whenever I fix the printer at work, I instantly feel like an IT expert – once you stand up on your board, you’ll feel like an athletic pro! It took me a little while to get the courage to stand up and trust the board, but once I did I was off and paddling for my life. As the boards are so stable, once you find your feet standing feels like second nature. It’s empowering and super-fun to go faster, and much easier to manoeuvre the board, paddle and turn around when you’re standing. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to literally walking on water and I love the feeling.
4. You can travel anywhere easily with your SUP
Forget needing big vans, roof racks and expensive travel luggage charges – explore the world with SUP’s which can fold up into a 12” square you can pop into your backpack and then inflate when you arrive. Red Paddle Co inflatable boards are impressively durable, stable and stiff with performance on the same level as a traditional hard board. Their specially-designed pumps take half the time and effort of inflating (so it’s not a punish) and each board comes with its own super-tough travel and storage case with wheels.
5. It’s a year-round exercise which is never boring
While SUP is great in summer as you can have a sneaky dip mid-paddle, it’s actually a year-round exercise. For cooler temperatures (or early-morning sunrise paddles) just don a wetsuit and neoprene booties, or a rashie over your swimmers to stay warm. You can also wear quick-dry activewear if you prefer. Hats, sunnies and SPF are essentials all year round on the water. With gorgeous, every-changing scenery and fresh air on the tranquil water, this is one outdoor workout you’ll never get sick of.
Find out more information about Red Paddle Co and their inflatable SUP boards.
If you’re interested in doing an amazing SUP retreat for all fitness levels, visit Workout On Water here. Run by SUPYoga guru Charlotte Piho, her amazing family-style health and wellbeing retreats have been named one of the world’s best by Lonely Planet.
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