Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has got to be one of the easiest water sports to take up: it’s cheap, it’s good exercise, and it only requires a board and a paddle. I am officially a fan.
SUP is sort of a mix between surfing and kayaking, if you had to compare it, and the great thing about this sport is that it doesn’t require any planning, or booking, or too much skill really – I mean, you need to have basic balance and core stability, but if you start on fairly flat water then it’s not difficult to pick up, and you progress into choppier terrain as you improve and get a feel for the sport.
Paddleboarding doesn’t feel too much like exercise, because you’re out on the water, enjoying the sunshine, replenishing all that vitamin D, and you don’t really feel the time pass. All the while you are getting a full body workout that improves your overall cardio fitness, core stability, strength and balance – it’s a win win considering you don’t have to step foot in a gym to achieve similar results.
The beauty of SUP is that it doesn’t require waves, so you don’t need to wait for the surf to pick up; you can practice on a lake, in the sea, or a river even. That’s if you’re a beginner, or casual SUP-er, but for the advanced SUP fans and pros, waves are definitely a plus – but we’re not quite there yet.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The board. You need a board that works for you – so the width and length of the board are key to your success. If your board is too small for you then you will have less stability, which will make the learning process a lot more difficult. Start off with a wide base of support and take it from there.
The paddle. You generally want a paddle that is about 10 inches taller than you. Practice a rowing style of action (think kayaking) and this is the motion you will need to drive your board forwards through the water. When turning, you want to focus that rowing technique on one side only, turning the board round as you paddle.
The stance. You are standing up yes, but bending the knees a little will help with stability and also driving power through your legs, which will be planted to the board, but use the momentum from bending and straightening the knees to drive you in the direction you want the board to go.
The core. Your core muscles are stronger than you may think, and they literally wrap around your mid section to provide stability to your body, namely your lower spinal region. This stability is what helps with your stance and posture – so keep the core nice and firm, and you will see your stability increase, particularly if the water gets a little choppy underfoot.
Here in Dubai one of my favourite places to SUP is Kite Beach. You can either head to Surf House Dubai and rent a board there, or just pick one up off the beach and rent one off the guys parked up on the sand. With amazing views of the Burj Al Arab and eternal sunshine (except when it’s foggy), this is one of my favourite things to do at the weekend. If you’re into your water sports, then you may also want to give wake surfing a try – such good fun and a really great workout too.