You’ve seen them: the people standing on colourful boards, skimming along the lake like athletic gondoliers, embodying the very concept of “carefree.” And they’re everywhere—on lakes, rivers, and the ocean. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly it is they’re doing (or why), we’re here to help you out. These people are enjoying the wonderful world of stand up paddleboarding (SUP), a watersport that combines surfing and kayaking. SUP is quickly rising in popularity, and it’s easy to understand why—here are five reasons you should give it a try.
1. You don’t need to be a superstar athlete
Surfing looks awesome to outsiders, but there are a number of roadblocks between buying a board and actually riding waves. It takes a fair bit of practice and instruction just to get the hang of standing up on a surfboard, and many beginners may not know where to get started. Enter stand up paddleboarding: SUP uses a larger, broader board that’s easier to balance on, and it allows newbies to practice on whatever body of water they want—no waves required. While you can still surf big breakers with an SUP, you can also paddle on serene lakes and still waters, taking it as hard or as easy as you’d like.
2. It’s a great full-body workout
While you may not be a superstar athlete when you start stand up paddleboarding, you’ll probably be in much better shape after a few sessions. Cody White, a certified PaddleFit instructor, told Men’s Fitness: “It’s an amazing full-body workout that improves your core strength, cardio fitness, balance, and flexibility with virtually no impact. Plus, it’s fun to get out on the water and enjoy nature, so it hardly feels like exercise.” Building core fitness is great for your back, your alignment and stability, and your posture, so SUP will benefit you even when you’re not on your board.
3. There’s an SUP style for everyone
Kids, adults, professionals, beginners, groups, loners: everyone can find an SUP activity to suit them. Yoga enthusiasts can try SUP yoga, which challenges them to change and hold poses on their boards, helping to build a wicked sense of balance and stability. Thrillseekers might want to try SUP waterskiing, which involves being pulled behind motorboats at adrenaline-surging speeds. Wave junkies can follow the lead of surfing legend Laird Hamilton, who uses his SUP to carve up giant, tubular waves. Your board is a multi-purpose tool, limited only by your imagination. And just when you think you’ve done everything with it you possibly can, just try a headstand.
4. You don’t need to be on the ocean
Ocean sports are great for those who live on the coast, but the majority of Canadians live inland. Thankfully, stand up paddleboarders don’t need to rely on ocean waves to have a good time. SUPs are frequently spotted on rivers, lakes, ponds, canals, and just about any other body of water you can think of. If you want to explore the aquamarine rivers of Canada’s Rockies or navigate the placid lakes of Muskoka, your SUP is the perfect mode of transportation.
5. It gives you the chance to get away
Friends and family are great, but one of the main reasons time at the cottage is so special is that it allows you to experience the serenity of nature. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, stand up paddleboarding offers the perfect escape. Just hop onto your board and glide into a new environment. From your standing vantage point, you can look down into a glassy lake and see the aquatic life and plants teeming beneath your feet, or you can ride a river current past a scrolling vista of plant life. SUP can be a uniquely meditative experience. It’s the rare sport that gives you the opportunity to take a moment to yourself, take in your beautiful surroundings, and just breathe.