If you're at all in tune with the world of outdoor athletics, then you probably know about stand up paddleboarding, or as it's more commonly referred to, SUP.
Even if you're not quite sure exactly what it is I'm willing to bet you've at least heard about it once or twice before. In fact we've covered it here on The Active Times a few times in the past because it's slowly growing into a quite popular sport.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual survey of outdoor activities for 2013, the sport attracted over 1.5 million participants. From 2011 to 2013 participation rates saw an increase of nearly 47%. What’s more, according to the association’s 2013 survey, “Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.”
Clearly people are curious about SUP. And with all the buzz surrounding it, I began to wonder too. I wanted to find out for myself what all the hype was about and whether or not it was really as fun as everyone was making it out to be.
This past weekend I finally had the chance to take my first shot at SUP on a lake in the Poconos. I was excited; as a former swimmer water sports are more or less in my nature and I was looking forward to returning to my element in a new way.
When I first approached the board, I had so many questions. What's the best way to get on? Where should I plant my feet? I face the paddle this way, right? Clearly I’m more at home when it’s just me and the water, no extra tools. But after I wrapped the board’s leash around my ankle and slowly planted my knees into position I quickly found that I was more balanced and comfortable than expected.
Related: So You Think You Can Sup?
I paddled away from the shore and once I reached a safe spot beyond the dock I stood up on the board; it is called stand up paddleboarding after all. I felt a little shaky at first but standing up and balancing wasn’t nearly as difficult as I was anticipating, and once I took a few strokes I found the answer to the question I had been pondering for so long: yes stand up paddling is fun.
Not only is it fun, but it’s relaxing too. Of course, there’s work involved, but I found that SUP is sort of like a sneaky workout. I never felt like I was exerting myself too intensely, but at the same time I could feel the effort required of my body; my core and leg muscles working to keep me balanced and my upper body muscles working to propel me forward with each stroke.
I can’t pinpoint exactly why it felt it so relaxing, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the rhythm of the movement, the calm water all around me and the fluffy white clouds in the sky that day.
Whatever it was, I know for sure that I had a blast and that (at least in my book) SUP is a surefire way to have fun this summer.