SUP Core Training

How SUP can be the Best Exercise You Don’t Realize You’re Getting

I bumped into a statistic that suggested half of the buyers of stand up paddle boards are women. Personally, I think that number is much higher. But if the stat is true, one has to wonder why the other half isn’t on board with this activity. Here are five questions a group of women asked me about stand up paddle boarding just yesterday.

Boardworks Great Bear SUP Paddle Board

Boardworks Great Bear 12’6″ SUP Board is great for touring, racing, recreation, or exercise.

What kind of board should I start with?

To their credit, all of these women looked to be in great physical condition (one of them still had the race numbers marked on her calves). So my natural choice for their first SUP board was something that was a bit beyond the beginner board, but not by much. The Boardworks SUP Great Bear 12’6” Paddle Board, I told them, is a great first board for a number of reasons. But before I could go on, they all gasped at the length, wondering if something that large would be difficult to handle. What makes the Great Bear SUP Board so good is that length and because of the way it is constructed, with its dual density core and fiberglass architecture it is also one of the lightest boards around. It is designed to be the cross training board of SUP. That length matched with that lightweight design make this board good for touring (it packs a lot of gear), racing, or recreational SUPing. It is also incredibly easy to get on and off the rack of a car..

So its lightweight. Can I do different things with it?

This, I came to find out, was a reference to a paddle boarder one of them had seen recently who wasn’t paddling at all. Instead, the women she saw was doing yoga. She said she was riding her bike past a nearby lake. She pulled over to watch her go through a wide variety of poses. So, she asked, can I do yoga on this board? Yes, the Great Bear SUP is an excellent choice for this. It is thinner and at the same time, wider which creates a great deal of stability for stationary workouts like yoga.

Is there anything I need to know before I begin?

Of course I suggested they spend some quality time here. There is a whole host of informative articles that I’ve written over the last nine months that discuss the right clothing and gear, including personal floatation devices, why it is important to know how to self-rescue, how to develop an efficient paddling stroke, and even if they’re interested, a bit of history about the fastest growing sport.

What kind of fitness workout can you expect?

Possibly one of the best features about SUPing is the fact that the exercise you get is almost effortless. The simple act of balancing on the board works the core in ways you might not imagine. It’s a proven fact that unbalanced surfaces force your core to control your upper and lower body and this development is essential to good health. On the water, even after you have learned to balance on the board, the workout continues. True beginners will notice how it feels almost right away. And once they do, the need to do it again and again is hard to resist.

Done correctly, the act of paddling has excellent torso rotation qualities with an upper back and shoulder workout that is second to none. Even if you do it incorrectly, and most beginners simply try too hard, your body will learn how to conserve your energy and teach you how to do a more natural stroke. Because you’re standing, shifting weight from side-to-side, your lower body is given an excellent cross training workout that few other activities can boast as providing. And you tend to smile when you do it. How many other exercise related activities can claim that as a byproduct?

Is there anything else?

It’s fun and it’s exercise, I told them. But like any new activity, even if you are in good shape, it should be done after you stretch a bit. Those initial times on the board should be shorter to avoid the pain you might experience from using muscles you forgot you had. I suggested that they take a lesson from a reputable dealer if only to understand the mechanics of paddling and the safety information they need to know. Those lessons usually include a board rental as well.

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