Don’t tell me I can’t…

Think it’s too late to try some­thing new in your 40s? Nicky Collins doesn’t agree…

Woman (UK) - - Inside The Issue -

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

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