Stand up paddle boarding: A sport with something for everyone

Discover the relaxing and exhilarating experience of stand-up paddleboarding.

Not much gets me out of bed early on a Sunday, but I found myself agreeing to a 7 am stand up paddle boarding lesson.

It was worth it just to see the sun come up over the river as I awkwardly squished myself into my surf school wetsuit. We had the beach, and the water, all to ourselves.

It turns out that the heads – where the river meets the sea – is an ideal spot for a first time paddle boarder like me. The river’s relatively flat water was perfect to practice getting up and staying up on my board. Cam’s instructions were easy to follow and I managed to get up with unexpected ease – and dry hair.

This was one of the times having a low centre of gravity was an asset. My six foot something companion had a bit more trouble staying upright on his board as we paddled up stream against the light current.

I had expected to use my core muscles, but I was surprised at how hard the muscles in the tops of my feet, shins and hips worked to keep me balanced, especially as the wind got stronger towards the river mouth. That is probably the reason stand up paddle boarding is said to be particularly useful for runners who are experiencing shin splints or knee and hip pain.

 “It can be serene and almost meditative on the calm of the river, but exhilarating and a physical challenge once you hit the surf.”

My hair didn’t stay dry for long once we got into the surf. As we emerged from the mouth of the river and into the sea, the waves hit me side-on as I paddled along the beach looking for the perfect (smallest) one to catch. Every muscle in my body was engaged with the effort of staying up on the board.

After I had been knocked off once, the fear of falling off dissipated and I was game to give catching some waves a real go – thrillingly, with some success.

The perfect payoff for our work paddling upstream was being carried back downstream by the current, cruising effortlessly past the houses looking over the river. We both agreed that this was a great way to sightsee – paddle boarding through the Amazon jungle anyone?

Stand up paddle boarding has something for everyone. It can be serene and almost meditative on the calm of the river, but exhilarating and a physical challenge once you hit the surf.

Stand up paddle boarding is good for balance, strength and burning calories without damaging joints. The highlight for me though, was that once I got out on the water and started paddling, I could feel my body and mind relaxing as I got into the rhythm.

The ambiance of paddle boarding is far more pleasant than being in a cramped gym or fitness studio. Whether you paddle board on a lake, a river or the ocean, the fresh air, the sun and the water enhance the experience.

Next on my list: paddle board yoga!

Ready to give it a try? Find out more at surfsessions.com.au

Recommended reading - Issue Nine Spring 2014

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