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No-one said it was going to be easy – but they omitted to say just how much fun it was.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is the latest craze in aqua sports. If you’ve been for a walk by a local lake or down the sea shore you’ll have seen them all – standing in the water like rigid shop mannequins, an oar at one side, gently flicking the water.
It doesn’t particularly look like fun – where’s all the leg kicking and arm flailing that you get with other water sports? One over-eager move and that hapless individual you’ve spotted balancing on a board could topple sideways Monty Pythonesque-like.
But then, I could never resist seeing what all the excitement was about when it came to popular crazes. Yes, I did get a skate board, a Segway and I took up rock climbing as they all surged and then waned in popularity. Despite spying my 60s year over yonder on the horizon, I still feel obliged to give paddleboarding a bash.
And I’m not alone, at my age. My friend Gillian recently moved from London to the Ayrshire coast. The first thing she did (after unpacking) was get herself signed up to the local sea swimming group. She’s 62 and has never even worn a wet suit before, let alone swam in plunging temperatures with jellyfish. But she loves it. And I can never get her on the phone because it’s always in her bag at the side of the beach while she’s submerged doing her sea-thing. And yes, she does want to try paddleboarding too.
So is it easy then, you’re wondering. Well, it’s not when you’re lying face down on the board and propelling yourself forward by pushing through the water with your arms (‘fins’ – it’s very fish-like) either side of the board. Nor is it particularly difficult kneeling on the board and using the oar to flick back the water (the is best done using knee pads!). The crunch is the standing up bit though. That definitely needs an hour or two to master.
And talking of which, I came across a particularly bizarre sight near Largs Marina last night where I spotted a club of around 20 paddleboarders all standing up and circling each other in the water. They were chatting away and laughing – socialising on the sea. In fact, it’s so sociable, I know of one woman who takes her tiny Chihuahua, Logan, paddleboarding with her (see below). Just how cute is he in his little life jacket?).
And I think that’s one of the big plus points of paddleboarding. Unlike swimming, water skiing or other aqua sports, it’s exercise you can enjoy with a friend (and so much more fun than going to the gym). You’re getting fresh air into your lungs for a start, and all that statue-like posing when standing on the board is fantastic for your core – and we all know how those lazy stomach muscles need to be kept until control after the age of 50.
In fact, it’s claimed that the combination of strength, balance, core and endurance will help you burn more calories than most other sport.
One of the unexpected pleasures I found from paddleboarding was the meditative state it puts you in. You can’t help it. After all, you’re gliding slowly and silently across the water, listening to the gulls or other sounds of nature (depending on whether you’re at the sea or a lake), your movements are minimal, you’re breathing slows down and what else can you do but relax? And yes, you’re right – some forward-thinking health gurus in California have developed a form of yoga on paddleboards.
So, maybe you’re keen to try it yourself and wondering how much paddleboards cost? Well, you can usually invest in the whole kit (including pump for blowing up the inflatable board) and oar for anything from £300 to £600. Of course, you can always buy second-hand too, from Ebay or similar (paddleboarding isn’t for everyone, after all). But, if you’re looking for a fun exercise you do with a friend – and your dog – then really, why not get onboard?
Are you a paddleboarder? Or maybe you have a different hobby?
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