Don’t tell me I can’t…
Think it’s too late to try something new in your 40s? Nicky Collins doesn’t agree…
Learn to paddleboard
The sun is beating down, and my muscles ache as I force the long oar into the water and propel myself forward. as a paddleboarder, you might think I’m a 20-something in peak physical condition. But the truth is, I’m a 43-year-old mum-of-one from Poole. and, while I wouldn’t consider myself an athlete, my new hobby has given me a six-pack…
Despite growing up by the coast, I was never interested in water sports. Back then, I preferred to spend my time and money on clothes, or socialising with friends. If I went to the beach I was more concerned with getting a tan than taking a dip.
But then, aged 26, after saving up my salary from my finance job – where I met my partner, Patrick – I went travelling. It was in Hawaii that I tried surfing for the first time, and I went white-water rafting in New Zealand.
I loved being in the ocean – I couldn’t believe I’d never tried water sports before. But when I returned home, Patrick and I moved to London – and I certainly didn’t fancy taking a dip in the Thames! So, apart from playing netball a couple of times a week, I didn’t do much exercise.
We had our daughter Emily in February 2005, and a year later we got married. Keen to raise our little girl away from the city, we moved back to Poole when she was nine.
Just a few days after we’d settled into our new home, a friend told me she’d taken a few paddleboarding lessons and suggested I give it a try. At first, I was surprised. Yes, I’d seen the people out in the harbour on their boards, but I assumed they were professionals. But my friend explained that I didn’t need any kit – a board and paddle was provided for you – and I could have a private lesson, meaning I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of anyone. I thought back to my time abroad, and how much I’d loved water sports. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it another go.
When I went down to the beach a week later I wasn’t nervous – even when I met my teacher, who was a strapping 20-something with bulging biceps. The sun was shining and, wearing a wetsuit, I wasn’t worried about stretch marks or any lumps and bumps. I just couldn’t wait to get in the water.
I waded out with my rented board and, after a few failed attempts, I managed to stand up. As I paddled around the harbour, it felt amazing to be so close to nature and I didn’t mind when I fell in – after all, I was already wet!
The two-hour lesson seemed to be over within minutes, and it wasn’t until the next day that I realised how much exercise I’d done. Every muscle in my body seemed to ache!
From then on, I was hooked on paddleboarding and, by March 2015, I’d joined a local club. I thought I’d be the oldest person there, but most of the members were my age. I loved paddling around the harbour with my new friends, before stopping for a drink and some snacks on the beach.
Soon, I was paddleboarding three times a week, even in winter. And, for my 41st birthday, Patrick bought me my very own board.
While I started the sport just for fun, it got me in great shape. I’ve dropped two dress sizes from a 14 to a 10 and I don’t think twice about strutting around on the beach in a bikini.
Now I’ve become so addicted to paddleboarding that I compete in races, and I’ve qualified as an instructor, so I can pass on my skills. I’m proof that you’re never too old to try something new.
‘I loved being In the sea’
nicky’s passion for paddleboarding has given her confidence
abbey Clancy and husband Peter Crouch paddleboarding in hawaii