As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end — even travel. I’ve left Nicaragua and am now Stateside again. And even though I came back to the States for one of the best reasons ever (how can you beat a new nephew?!), I still returned feeling a bit sad that my explorations, as hard as they were sometimes, had come to an end.
But I quickly realized that I can be just as much of an explorer in my new home as I am abroad — I’ve got an amazing opportunity to experience an old city through new eyes. I’ve been filling my days with new experiences and new people in a city that I had once known like the back of my hand. And the rewards have been amazing, including finding a new experience so wonderful that I can’t wait to share it: stand up paddleboarding (or SUP for short).
As a newly landlocked surfer, SUP has been a gift from the universe a thousand times over for so many reasons. But, perhaps the reason I love it most is that it’s such an accessible experience for anybody. As one of the pros at Sup Calhoun put it, “if you can stand on one foot and are on the proper board, you can paddleboard.” SUP offers something completely different to beginners, to people looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors than they have before: a water-based activity that inherently includes beautiful scenery, a bit of the aloha vibe, a serious workout that you barely realize you’re doing, and a seriously easy start up time.
If you’ve been itching to get out on the water, but things like surfing or wakeboarding feel too intense; if you’re simply looking to expand your horizons and meet new people, or you’re ready for a new yoga experience, SUP is right there at your fingertips. Because trying something new, no matter how easy it is, is always less intimidating with a bit of background information first, here are a few tips for beginners that the pros at SUP Calhoun were gracious enough to share:
- DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. If you fall, it’s just water. Other aquatic sports are higher risk when it comes to falling (think hitting some coral if you fall off a surfboard), but because paddleboarding takes place on calm waters, if you fall it’s essentially the same experience as jumping into a lake.
- LESSONS ALWAYS HELP. Even though there’s a lot less to hopping on a paddleboard and getting on the water than other water sports, a few minutes of a lesson can go a long way. “Padding is super intuitive, but having the basics for technique and a slight know how of the water can make your time on the board much more enjoyable,” notes our friends at Sup Calhoun.
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR PADDLING. While you can certainly scoot around a lake with little to no expert form, there are ways to be more efficient about it. Stack your shoulders as much as you can and keep the paddle as vertical as possible when you’re out there to get the most out of each stroke.
- RELAX! Even though paddle boards are bigger and much more stable than, say, a wakeboard or a surfboard, you’re still balancing on a board in the water. It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter a bit of instability here and there, but when you do, the more calm you can stay, the better. Beginners tend to over-correct when they hit a bump on the water, causing them to fall in. So, as much as you can, relax and just find your yogi center.
And there you have it! You’re practically ready to hit the water as a SUP pro. That’s the accessible beauty of it and one of the reasons it’s currently giving surfing a run for it’s money when it comes to holding special space in my heart and (hopefully) soon-to-be yours as well.