Your board’s ready. Here’s how you can be, too.
- Prepare your body. Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is great exercise for all fitness levels, but by the same token, everyone can shape up for more time on the water. Exercises like pulldowns, lat presses, iso twists and sumo squats can help develop your balance and the leg, core and arm muscle groups you’ll need to keep paddling for hours – and a five-minute dryland routine of stretches, squats and other pre-paddle warmup exercises can stave off aches and injuries. Don’t forget a protein, fat and carbohydrate-balanced breakfast or failing that, plenty of healthy snacks for the day.
- Gear up for safety. A personal floatation device (PFD) is crucial. Make it a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer. A leash between your ankle and your board can be the difference between an embarrassing tumble and a dire situation. Don’t cheap out! Using a paddle that sinks when dropped is a great way to get stranded. Should stranding happen for any reason, a whistle and/or a water-tight cell phone bag could prove your saviour.
- Dress for wetness AND dryness. On warm, sunny days, quick-drying swimsuits or boardshorts are fine. There are plenty of UV-resistant clothing options, including hats, which, like sunglasses, should be tethered to you. If you prefer to feel the sun on your skin, wear less clothes but more sunscreen (preferably with insect repellant). For colder or changeable weather, consider a rash-resistant wetsuit and/or neoprene/lycra clothes and shoes.
- Know what to do at all times. The weather isn’t the only thing that can catch you by surprise. So knowing how to locate a spot to embark, get on your board, find your balance and start paddling will put you ahead of many fellow beginners. So will knowing how to get back on your board and, believe it or not, how to fall off in the first place. Emergency paddling, towing and rescue methods may seem like a lot to think about, but it doesn’t take long to learn. Ask an experienced friend to show you (the company alone will make you safer) or find a SUP course near you.