Hello SUPer Women!
There’s something special about Stand Up Paddling. Experienced paddlers are empowered with their accomplishments and their development on the water, but everyone started the same way, in the same place, with a first stroke. There’s nothing I love more than teaching a new person to stand up paddle who is nervous to stand up on a board for the first time, apprehensive of falling into the water, underestimates their ability to balance on a 11 foot board and convinced they will make a fool of themselves. However, with all this reservation they are still keen to give it a try just hoping to be able to stand up for a fraction of a second before toppling over.
Perhaps this is generalizing an entire group of SUP students, but the above description fits many of the women I have taught over the years and their first time trying SUP. In my many years of teaching stand up paddling and sharing this amazing sport with others, the greatest reward is the huge smile you get from the faces of these ladies who, almost always, let their fears completely subside as they start to cruise around, ‘walking on water’ and realizing “Wow! I’m doing it!”
While many men assume they can run and jump on a board, balance right away and forget ‘reading directions’ or listening to instructions. They soon find themselves flat on their back sliding off their board in an entertaining moment which is followed by a “I meant to do that”. Women, however take a much more cautious and calculated approach in their first attempt. They carefully listen to instructions, they ask questions and inevitably need a little push (literally) to get moving. Encouragement goes a long way and is essential to ensure that within a few minutes of standing up their confidence is soaring. Add additional instruction on specific technique and typically women pick up the art of paddling more quickly than men.
Why women should SUP?
1. A Guaranteed Confidence Booster
Even if you explain to a first time female paddler that SUP has an easy learning curve and within 20 minutes with the right board and conditions you’ll be up and paddling no problem, most won’t believe you and will probably just laugh. Until they do it. Then it’s like magic, yes perhaps their toes are still clawing the board and knees might be a bit shaky, but give them another 20 minutes and all will start to relax. Have them fall in the water, climb back up on the board and voila, their beaming! I can’t think of many other first time sports that women can take up these days that provides an almost instant confidence booster that can be shared with all your friends upon stepping off a board via an Instagram pic with the following caption: “First time on a SUP - I did it! So much fun and so much easier than it looks! #standuppaddle #paddleagainsoon #whoisgoingwithme?”
2. You’re Stronger Than You Think
A good instructor not only teaches you the basics, but they break down the paddle stroke, explaining the key muscles used and the major benefits that putting it all together provides. Proper technique can improve your paddling, but it’s also about the encouragement given. Being told you are strong and powerful (you are a woman, of course) and putting that into each paddle stroke produces a graceful glide across the water and allows one to feel that total body workout, but with ease, that SUP is guaranteed to provide.
3. Women need Vitamin D and Vitamin Sea
The sun beating down on a beautiful summer day while paddling across the clear turquoise waters of the ocean taking in the coastline by stand up paddleboard seems just like what the doctor ordered. This is guaranteed to fend off a handful of diseases and improve overall mood. I can’t think of a better day when out of the corner of your eye you see a pod of dolphins rise above the surface. The addition of the dolphins might not be an everyday occurrence, but the sun and the sea will definitely do your body good.
4. Healthy Mind and Healthy Body
Speaking of doing a body good, it’s pretty simple. SUP is good for both your body and mind. At a minimum it can burn 300 calories an hour and really, it doesn’t even feel like a workout! We’re also busy increasing serotonin levels helping to boost our mood, provide more energy, and clearer thinking. Combine this with those firing endorphins and its easy to find yourself on cloud nine.
5. From a New Perspective (on life)
Standing up provides a new perspective on the water. Gliding over the water looking out at the horizon, the distant shoreline or down at the deep blue water affords paddlers a different view and an ability to look at life in various ways that may affect individuals differently. Regardless, when you step off the board finishing your first paddle, something changes. Yes, you might be hooked on the actual sport of SUP, but the experience can provide clarity for some, a desire to relax and slow down for others, or fire up slowly dying embers that start burning bright again. Whatever your experience on a SUP may be, you’ll be surprised when you realize it was more than just learning to glide through the water. It's definitely more than just a board and a paddle!
6. Versatility Awaits
After that first lesson the options to continue paddling expand significantly as you learn how versatile the sport can be. You might search for new locations to paddle, try yoga or pilates on a SUP, or challenge yourself in windy conditions and try out a few small waves. Then you’ll hear about the opportunity to compete in an event and that confidence that came with standing up for the first time is realized again when you complete your first beginner race. You’ve taken all that you’ve learned, your strength is unleashed and you’re ready to show your power from both mind and body. It’s a fun, yet competitive way to test your limits amongst other women and in the end is a lot more enjoyable than you thought. This is even if you might have had your arm twisted to participate in the first place. You leave this experience wondering when you you’ll be able to do it again. Again and again, now that’s starting to sound familiar.
7. Get out there and paddle all you SUP’er Women:
What are you waiting for? If you’ve got stand up paddling on our bucket list then get out there and make it a date. Grab a handful of your friends and get out there and learn, most likely, you’ll never look back. You’ll be busy scheduling the next paddle before you even step off the board. Then, afterwards, you might even find yourself ‘Googling’ where to SUP in the Maldives as that upcoming trip is just around the corner. Now that sounds like a perfect idea!