Stand Up Paddling (SUP) has made quite an appearance here in SA recently, I’m not sure how long it’s been around for, but lately I’ve been noticing more and more of them hitting the sea. So of course I wanted to try it out.
So I signed up for a session with SUPsistas, they’re a Cape Town-based SUP club especially for women. I figured if I was gonna see my ass I might as well do it in the company of other women.
Fortunately for me the wind has been so hectic here lately that they moved their usual Small Bay classes on the icy Atlantic to the Waterfront Canals in town. I say fortunately because I think it was probably a lot easier to learn how to get up on the board and stay up when there aren’t ocean waves thwarting your efforts every few seconds. Baby steps ok?!
So one glorious Cape Town morning I arrived at the canals. Karina met me and together with a group of about 12 other women we warmed up before she showed us newbies the basics. I.e. how not to fall off or crash into anyone.
One of the trickiest things to learn was how to handle the paddle. We practised a few times on land, but it’s very different when you’re on the water.
Once we were warmed up and prepped we took our giant boards down to the water. They’re freaking huge to carry, even harder to get into the water with cause they start floating away as soon as they’re in. So it’s a fine act trying to keep them close while climbing on.
So on I got, on my knees at first to get a feel for it.
It was a VERY weird sensation. My legs were trembling and my core was tight. And this was on flat water. So I paddled around on my knees for a little while before I felt brave enough to stand up. And that was something altogether different.
I don’t think my legs have ever felt so shaky. My thighs were like jelly. You see you can’t really straighten up and just stand. You have to keep your legs slightly bent (at least at first) so when the water moves – which it inevitably does- you don’t tumble off. You’ve also got to keep your ‘hips loose”. I didn’t know what that meant until the little boat came past and I started doing an involuntary salsa on the board just to keep upright.
It took about 15 minutes for my legs to stop shaking. Then my toes went numb, and they stayed numb for a while. But by then I was totally into it and enjoying myself FAR too much to worry about some stupid toes.
Once I got a rhythm going it felt amazing. My whole body was getting a workout, it was sociable and once I got a little more confident I even got a few peeks at the passing scenery. The women who were in my group were all from various backgrounds, various countries and were aged from early 20s to late 60s (I swear, one lady was in her 60s and not only was she kicking my ass she looked amazing).
An hour later I didn’t want it to end, but my body was actually feeling quite tired. Not sore, just nicely tired. My shoulders and arms were worked, my core was worked and my legs were worked (despite much protesting from them).
Next I’d like to try it out on the sea. But on a VERY calm day. Like I said, baby-steps.
I would highly recommend this sport to anyone. It’s easy on the joints, fun and a great addition to a fitness routine. I’m sure out at sea it would be an even harder workout too.
Ladies check out SUPsistas if you’re keen, not only are they a great group of ladies but they’re also completely non-profit with all proceeds from board and paddle-hire going towards supporting orphaned children. You could get a double whammy workout AND be socially responsible. What more could you ask for?