How to get started in stand up paddleboarding (SUP)
It began on the beaches of Hawaii and word of stand up paddleboard’s body-honing powers have spread, thanks to shots of bikini-clad celebrity paddlers. But you don’t need to be á la plage to take it up. ‘You can paddle in rivers, canals or lakes,’ says Kristiana Thomas, a 29-year-old instructor at 360 Fitness in London. ‘You get lost in the rythym of the water – the last thing you think about is exercising!’
Who can do it?
If you’re fairly healthy, and can swim 50 metres, you’re good to go. ‘But that’s not mandatory, as flotation aids can be provided,’ says Thomas. ‘When people paddle in low currents, they’re usually standing in 10 minutes.’
Where do I start?
Look for classes approved by The British Stand Up Paddle Association and pop along. ‘Most sessions are two hours and you’ll spend the first half hour getting a feel for the board and paddle,’ says Thomas. ‘Then you’ll be out on the water.’
What kit do I need?
‘Most clubs hire boards, paddles and wetsuits, so all you need for your first session is a swimsuit for underneath,’ she explains. ‘Some people wear surf shoes; I go barefoot – it gives better contact with the board, which helps keep you stable.’
What are the fitness gains?
‘Great abs! You spend a lot of time doing a crunching action, which strengthens core muscles,’ says Thomas. ‘The repetitive paddle action tones your biceps and triceps, and is great for banishing those bingo wings, too.’
Kristiana Thomas is a stand up paddleboarding instructor at 360 Fitness in London.
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