The first time I got up on a board, I was just surprised I could remain standing!
I had bought a Groupon and my husband and I went out to Tampa while on vacation and rented paddle boards for an hour. It was fun, and beautiful. I was hooked. I knew that once we moved to Florida, I had to get one for myself. I ended up buying mine from Paddleboard Winter Haven. The owner allowed me to try out a couple boards on the lake she lived on and I felt really comfortable buying from her. She was also available to answer my questions in the beginning. I have not been able to use my board as much as I had hoped yet, but that is changing. I am sure weekends will include more paddling soon. Since I am just a beginner, I am not going to share any expertise but I will share some tips if you are thinking about SUP.
- Try out different sizes and types of boards before you buy. It is so important to feel comfortable on your board. There are boards specific for activity as well (lakes, speed, ocean, surf, rivers, etc) so do some research and go to a knowledgeable seller. Also, don’t forget the important paddle… there are so many options. Once you know what will work best for you, feel free to search the internet and local shops for the best deal.
- Get some quality practice and form instruction. I recommend renting a board or attending a class a few times to try out some boards and get guidance on how to paddle correctly. Here are some tips for paddling.
- Don’t let the water scare you. Keep your gaze forward, stop looking at your feet. water will come up over your board some time but do not let that ruin your balance, remain calm and trust your body to stay upright!
- Think about transportation of your board. Does your vehicle have a roof rack? Perfect. Do you have a truck bed you can use? Perfect. If not, do some research on buying a roof rack. We tried the soft roof racks similar to this and general roof racks but had no luck. Best option for us was Rhino Rack and I highly recommend them because they are custom to the vehicle so they fit perfectly.
- Find a safe place to paddle. You do not want to be stuck in weeds, eaten by an alligator, or attacked by a shark. Although you cannot always prevent any of those things from happening, set yourself up for success! You can search blogs, paddle board groups on meetup.com, and ask around the area.From asking around I found that I should avoid one lake completely because of the abundance of alligators and I would probably be safest at the lake that is used most often for boats, kayaks, and water-ski teams.
- That reminds me… boats and jet skis. AHH! Try to avoid them until you get your feel on the board a little more. They cause waves which make it very difficult to balance. Most are kind and will leave you alone but sometimes the space doesn’t allow for that and even if they are further away, they can cause big ripples. Just be aware of your surroundings. If you are caught in the brunt of some waves, bend your knees and keep paddling through. That’s the best way to maintain balance.
- Tell someone where you are. It is so important to be safe, as with any physical activity. My husband actually goes with me and does something on the shore so he can make sure I’m safe and call emergency if anything should happen. You can always invite a friend to swim, kayak, or paddle along with you as well.
- I have not yet taken on this venture because the water I’ve been in is not clear and I don’t feel like teasing gators but there are great workouts you can do on a paddle board including yoga and strength training with body weight. Check out this fun workout from Fit Bottomed Girls.
- Use paddle boarding as a stress reliever. I cannot tell you how tranquil I feel while out on the water. I may be sweating and feeling the strength of the sun but I feel at peace while paddling and watching ducks and birds take off and land across the water. Sunset is also just a beautiful time to be paddling. If you bring a friend, you’ll most likely be laughing which challenges your balance while also increasing your stress relief, win win!
- Make sure to pack for paddling. In most cases you are required to have a life jacket and whistle. I just hook this on to my board under the ropes. Some people like leashes that connect your ankle to your board. I always bring water with me to drink and if I’m going to be out there long, I’d definitely pack a snack. Here are some ideas but you definitely don’t need everything. It’s all up to personal preference.
If paddle boarding does not interest you or you are nowhere near water, don’t sweat it. Find something new that you think you may enjoy, and go do it! Thinking about Zumba but not wanting to look like a fool? Everyone does, so just join them! Always wanted to try Brazilian Jujitsu or ballroom dancing? What about boot camp class at the gym? You’ll never know what you may enjoy the most if you don’t give it a try. If you end up hating that dance class or deciding kickboxing isn’t for you, no problem. At least you tried!
Step out of your comfort zone and improve your health in a new and exciting way!