While I love living in New York and the northeast, there is a large part of me that remains a Florida girl at heart. Growing up, I was hardly ever indoors if I could help it. I rode my bike to the beach almost every weekend until I could drive there. I played sports. Went fishing with my dad. And even though I’ve lived in New York for nine years now, I’ve never stopped missing the fact that in Florida the sun shines almost every day and you can take advantage.
So when I found myself there last week, knowing I was going to come back to a crisp Northeast, I was determined to get out on the water somehow, someway. I’ve noticed that just about every single person I know who lives down south has tried or posted about Stand Up Paddleboarding in the last two years. It looked kind of intimidating – like a mix of surfing and kayaking – but (and not to be mean) I’ve seen some of my more un-athletic friends give it a go and if they could do it, I know I could too!
We found an incredible place in Tampa called Urban Kai along the Hillsborough River. This appealed to me because in the ocean, you have to deal with keeping your balance with waves coming at you, but on the river, you can practice on flat waters. The shop is owned by a husband and wife team who not only rent paddleboards, but teach fitness classes on them as well (more on that in a sec!)
After a quick lesson – mainly just how to hold the paddle, maximize your stroke, and how to get back on if you fall off – we were off to the races.
I really think that hardest part was just kneeling on the board for the first time. Here I am celebrating my success for getting on without making a total idiot of myself:
After you get the hang of paddling and feel where your balance is, the next step is to actually stand up. This is harder than it sounds! First step, transfer your weight forward:
Then push up quick before you can think too much about it:
Then it’s just a matter of keeping your head up (looking at your feet messes you up!) and pretty much rowing. The beginner boards we were on is very stable:
When you get super advanced, you can even graduate to a board that has a built-on yoga mat. People actually do this! Here is what I’d look like if I lived in Florida and could actually practice.
Maybe. Ok probably not, but I can dream! Isn’t that amazing?
If you are in Tampa, visit Urban Kai and visit their Facebook page here! You won’t be disappointed. Or, if you live anywhere near water, this really is a great form of exercise and very easy. You don’t have to do yoga, you can also just paddle around. Especially because you can’t bring your phone or anything of value with you in case you fall into the water – and it was so peaceful just to be out there with your thoughts. I really think that was the biggest benefit I took away!
Send us your snaps if you try it!