When it comes to most things in life, I have a sorta try-anything-once attitude. There are definitely things I’m afraid to try (read: surfing, rock climbing) that I tell myself I’ll get to someday, and then there are those I know I wanna do. Those are the easier ones to check off your bucket list, aren’t they?
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) falls into the latter category. It looks so zen. When I first saw folks on their boards and I thought: I want to be that calm, on the water and still be getting fit.
I was thrilled when one gorgeous day I got the chance to take an introduction class with Covewater SUP here in Santa Cruz. The sun was shining and there wasn’t even a hint of wind.
I biked down to the harbor, where we got a thorough but quick introduction from our instructor Scott while on land: Here’s how you get on the board, here’s how you stand on it, bing-bang-boom! I was on the water before I knew it. And there are photos to prove it!
Getting on the board felt pretty good, and all the tips Scott gave us for standing up (stick your butt out, keep your heels down and your eyes up) really helped. Kudos for good teachers!
Balancing was pretty intuitive, although I did run into a few things … sorry fellow classmates! Scott assured us not many people fell in. I’ll won’t keep you guessing: I did not fall into the freezing waters. Although from above, the ocean looked pretty inviting on the sun-kissed afternoon.
All the things I thought about this sport were pretty dead-on. It is so zen. I felt really centered and grounded, despite being on the water. Even though I was one of the slowest paddlers, no one seemed to mind. And we saw a sea otter!
It was definitely a workout. After about 1.5 hours I was ready to head in, especially after we got into the wavier areas toward the mouth of the harbor. That required more core strength, balance and concentration. And I slept like a baby that night. I was completely exhausted!
One weird thing is that after about an hour my feet started to fall asleep and not because the water was cold. One other paddler had a similar sensation, and Scott told us that it happens occasionally. After a few times on the board, it should start to go away, he said.
Stand up paddling is definitely something I’m going to do again (I may invest in some cute rash guards if I get more into it), and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in spending some time on the water. It’s intuitive, fairly easy and as peaceful as it looks.
Rebecca Watson is a writer, fierce optimist and balance enthusiast.