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.
Participants in an Undercurrents group lesson on the Bow River raise their paddles in a show of enthusiasm.
Tony Palmer and his dog Rascal enjoy a peaceful paddle.