One of the fitness trends sweeping the nation is stand up paddleboarding. Essentially, participants learn to balance on a board while they paddle to move it. Oh yeah, and they’re doing all of this on the water. Sounds scary, right? Well, if you’re always been curious (but maybe just a little cautious, too) about the sport, Yali Zawady is here to assuage your fears and give the lowdown on this increasingly popular water sport. Zawady, is the owner of Ambu Yoga, and is a stand up paddle board enthusiast certified by the World Paddle Association. She teaches SUP yoga classes on Sanibel and Captiva islands in Florida. Zawady has seen plenty of wildlife when she’s been teaching and knows that stand up paddleboarding is one of the best full body workouts around. Here are some helpful tips & tricks:
1. Practice Safety First
Since you’re in the water, it’s best if you know how to swim, suggests Zawady. A life jacket or a personal flotation device is also a good idea. If you’re a beginner, start with a conventional-sized board (roughly 9 to 12 inches long and about 30 inches wide) as it will give you added stability. Be sure to find out the weather conditions before you hit the water too. You definitely would not want to find yourself in the middle of a storm. And, lastly, either SUP (stand up paddle board)with someone else or have a contact onshore that you can reach out to. Also, be sure to choose the right board and paddle for your individual needs. An instructor can help you with this.
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2. Here’s What to Wear
Since you will be outdoors, dress for the weather. If it’s hot outside, slap on a rash guard or some sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Protect your eyes with a pair shades—just make sure you don’t mind if your sunglasses get wet. In cold weather or water that’s below 71 degrees, a wet suit is your best bet.
3. Get Ready for a Full-Body Workout
“One of the great things about stand up paddle boarding is that you will use your whole body,” says Zawady. “You will notice how little muscles that you normally don’t use, will activate, and keep you balanced.” For starters, you’ll be using your feet to give you stability on the board. Next, you’ll engage your core to keep you upright, and you’ll use those muscles to propel you as you paddle along.
4. Connect with Nature
“The first benefit of SUP-ing is being outdoors,” says Zawady. “Whether you are on the ocean, river, or lake, there are always cool things to see. Because you are standing, you get a great perspective of what is around you.” Expect to spot fish or other wildlife (Zawady has even seen dolphins while SUP-ing) when you’re on the board. Zawady mentioned how that SUP’s popularity means that the sport is suited for any type of paddler. Take your time on the board to enjoy the scenery, ride waves, race, practice SUP yoga or even fish.
5. To Ease Your Fear, Be Willing to Fall
Stand up paddle boarding can be intimidating. It’s not every day that you stand on a board floating on the water after all, but with practice, you can let go of your fear. Zawady recommends breathing deeply and having a solid sense of humor. “If you are willing to fall, eventually fear will melt away, and you’ll have great time on the water,” she says.
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