To­tal body work­out feels like ‘walk­ing on wa­ter’

Pad­dle­board­ing mak­ing a global come­back


If you’ve ever won­dered what it would be like to walk on wa­ter, a sport called pad­dle­board­ing could be the clos­est you’ll ever get.

Pad­dle­board­ing (or stand up pad­dling — SUP’ing) is an an­cient form of surf­ing that orig­i­nated in Hawaii. SUP’ing is mak­ing a global come­back whether you live by the ocean, near a calm lake or churn­ing river.

SUP boards look like larger ver­sions of typ­i­cal surf boards but travel on a SUP board is usu­ally done in a stand­ing po­si­tion, us­ing a pad­dle to pro­pel the board across the wa­ter, as­sist­ing in ma­noeu­vring, and main­tain­ing or chang­ing di­rec­tion and mo­men­tum. It’s a great over­all work­out for the core, arms, shoul­ders, chest, back and legs — not to men­tion the re­lax­ing peace you get from be­ing out on the wa­ter.

Jenn Givens, who works in Un­der­cur­rents pad­dle sports shop in Bow­ness, started SUP’ing about four years ago when the shop re­ceived a pad­dle­board in its stock. She be­gan pad­dling on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and last April be­came the first fe­male in Canada to be cer­ti­fied by Pad­dle Canada as a flat­wa­ter SUP in­struc­tor. Givens con­tin­ued her for­mal SUP ed­u­ca­tion and is now a flat­wa­ter SUP in­struc­tor-trainer.

“SUP’ing is rel­a­tively easy to do and any age group can do it, es­pe­cially on flat­wa­ter,” Givens says. “It re­quires only a few items of gear and the per­spec­tive of stand­ing on the board is amaz­ing — it’s like you are walk­ing on wa­ter.”

Even those who are not strong swimmers can take up the sport. Givens says SUP boards are clas­si­fied as a hu­man-pow­ered ves­sel by Trans­port Canada — sim­i­lar to a kayak or a ca­noe — so wear­ing a per­sonal flota­tion de­vice or life-jacket ap­proved by Trans­port Canada is the law.

Un­der­cur­rents of­fers three-hour SUP cour­ses in­clud­ing an in­tro­duc­tion to flat­wa­ter as well as ad­vanced and river cour­ses. On Sun­days, the flat­wa­ter in­tro and ad­vanced cour­ses are of­fered as a fun six-hour com­bi­na­tion les­son.

Once you’re hooked, Givens says you can prac­tice your skills in places such as Ar­bour Lake, the pond in Car­burn Park in the south­east or on Allen Bill Pond out­side Bragg Creek. Other op­tions in­clude Ghost Lake, about 15 min­utes past Cochrane, and a num­ber of moun­tain lakes. SUP’ing is not al­lowed on the Glen­more Reser­voir or Sikome Lake in south Cal­gary.

So if you feel try­ing some­thing new, grab a friend, a cou­ple of boards, and head out for a walk on the wa­ter.

Courtesy, Un­der­cur­rents

Par­tic­i­pants in an Un­der­cur­rents group les­son on the Bow River raise their pad­dles in a show of en­thu­si­asm.

Courtesy, Donna Ge­orge

Tony Palmer and his dog Ras­cal en­joy a peace­ful pad­dle.

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