SUP Your Way to Fitness
By Guest West Advisor Seychelle, Last updated: 4/11/2018
If you’re looking to get into shape and you love being on the water, this year consider paddling your way to fitness on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). SUP is a diverse sport that nearly anyone can do most anywhere in the world. All you need is water—a river, lake, beach or canal. SUP can be enjoyed alone, with friends, or with the entire family; and along with being a great exercise, paddling brings you close to nature—which is a great way to de-stress from the demands of our busy lives.
When done correctly, stand-up paddle provides a full-body workout which will develop your core, tone your arms, strengthen your back, and work your legs. SUP can help you become more balanced and focused and it’s super fun! It’s also a competitive sport for you athletes out there. There are SUP events and races that take place all over the world.
So here are a few of the ways that you can paddle your way to fitness on a SUP.
SUP Yoga—the combination of stand-up paddleboarding and yoga is one of the fastest growing fitness trends today. While practicing SUP Yoga, you can enjoy the natural elements of floating on the water while getting a workout. The integration of yoga postures on the board helps to challenge one’s focus while building strength, balance and flexibility throughout the entire body. SUP Yoga can also be restorative and therefore deeply relaxing. Most of all, it's fun!
Exploring among mangroves where large craft never go.
Anglers can combine fishing and fitness by paddling to their favorite fishing spots. SUPs can be taken to those hard-to-get-to places like mangrove tunnels, shallow backcountry flats, and no-motor zones. Special boards are made just for fishing that provide a wide and stable platform and some even come with built-in live wells, too!
For nature enthusiasts, going for a paddle is like taking a hike on the water. It is a 100% eco-friendly way to de-stress, get outdoors and enjoy our wonderful world. Viewing wildlife is made more exciting for quiet paddlers who experience closer encounters with sea life and wild birds. The next time you visit a state park, look to see if they have Water Trails that you can explore by SUP.
Boards come in all shapes and sizes so there is sure to be one for every member of the family. (They even make tandems!) Small children can sit comfortably on the front of the board and dogs love them, too! Combining family time with being active, on the water, and in the outdoors is a great way to get fit, be with your family and also instill a sense of adventure, and an active lifestyle for your children.
Paddling is a great way to make new friends. In most places, it is not hard to find a group of paddlers who share a love for SUP. One of the greatest things about this sport is the people you will meet. Fun, balanced, and focused individuals! Find a group of paddlers that meets up near you. Join an email list or a Facebook or Meetup group, or if you are really serious about training and want to participate in stand-up paddle competitions, you can join an online training community like Paddle Monster that provides weekly training programs with a social network for paddlers like you to help you reach your goals. When you have a group to paddle with, you can encourage each other to get out more often.
Seychelle with friends practicing yoga on their SUPs.
No matter how busy you may be, you can always find time for the things that you prioritize. So take a look at the priorities in your life, schedule them and do your best to stick to that schedule. Even if it’s only once a week, every Saturday morning or Tuesday after work, carve out the time for paddling and don’t let anything else take that time slot. Just like forming any habit, the hardest thing to do is just getting started.
Set reminders on your phone and let the people around you know that this is something important to you and that you are definitely going to stick with it. Paddle Monster provides an app for your smartphone. Having the support and knowing that there are others keeping an eye on you will help hold you accountable for your goals.
Sign up for a race! Even if your desire is not to compete, focusing on that 5 or 10K goal will keep you motivated, much like runners when they train for a race. The goal is more often not to win, but just to do your best, have fun, be on the water, and as a result get into shape! SUP has become a competitive sport with a large number of events held around the world. Training to race is a great way to keep motivated as you improve your endurance and strength.
Who says you can only SUP during the day? If the only free time you have is after dark, get yourself a set of waterproof LED lights for your board. Underwater lights and a headlamp are great additions to your SUP kit.
Paddling in a group.
Make it easy to get out on the water. If it’s a hassle, you won’t stick with it. If you can’t drive around with a board on your car all the time, then perhaps choose an inflatable SUP. If you find manually inflating your board to be a hassle, invest in a battery-powered pump to do the work for you. Avoid pre-paddle stress by keeping gear organized, clean, and ready-to-go.
Just can’t get enough? Plan your next vacation to a stand-up paddle destination. You can explore some of the most beautiful places in the world from aboard your SUP.
Experience exotic locations when you travel with your SUP.
Make safety on the water a priority by investing in a quality paddlesports life jacket that won’t inhibit your paddling range of motion. Many paddlers prefer a waist-worn inflatable life jacket, which maximizes their freedom of movement. Wear your life jacket at all times. You can also wear a leash that attaches you to your board, so that if you happen to fall in, you can just climb right back up.
Always tell someone where you plan to paddle and when you expect to be back—or paddle with a group. Do your research on areas where you haven’t paddled before to know local rules and regulations—and remember to check the weather, wind direction, tides and currents (if applicable) before you launch.
If you are new to SUP, be sure to check out West Marine’s Beginner’s Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding. For help in selecting a stand-up paddleboard that’s right for you, see West Marine’s Stand-Up Paddleboard Finder. Of course, you will also need a paddle. For help in selecting a paddle, see Selecting a SUP Paddle.
I was born and raised in the Florida Keys and have always had a deep connection to the water. I hold a USCG Masters license and for 8 years after school, I sailed around the world as a professional yachtsman. In 2013 I discovered stand-up paddling and moved back to Florida to pursue a career in this sport. With a lot of hard work and dedication, I am now a top 10 world ranked athlete, Guinness World Record holder for long distance*, and the 2016 Fastest Paddler on Earth. I am also a paddle coach, a registered yoga instructor and certified personal trainer. I offer clinics for all level paddlers. My classes and programs are a blend of the diverse coaches, styles and techniques I have practiced—and are a journey to cultivate strength, energy, endurance, balance, and bliss within our bodies. I am passionate about life, fitness, nutrition, love, and having fun. I believe that anything is possible and if you believe it, then it’s true.
*Editors note: Seychelle paddled a total distance of 110.47 miles to set the female Guiness World Record for the greatest distance covered by a stand up paddleboard on flat water in 24 hours. She achieved this on December 5-6, 2015. Witnesses reported that at 5 am, fifteen hours into the attempt, Seychelle was singing as she passed the checkpoint.