THE FIRST time I saw someone stand-up paddleboarding — let’s be honest, it was probably Jennifer Aniston in Us Weekly — I thought it looked unstable and slow. I pooh-poohed it.
Then stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, got popular, and it felt like everyone was doing it, including people braving the cold waters around Seattle. I grimaced slightly, hopped on a board and, naturally, fell in love.
Going from sitting to standing on water is hard to describe. There’s a power and fluidity when you stand on a board that elevates it above sitting in a kayak or canoe. You can see farther, you can go faster, and it’s easier to get in and out of the water, if you want to add a quick dip.
The first inclination for most people on a paddleboard is to stay on their knees, where your center of gravity is lower. It is a good way to get adjusted to the water. But if you stand, you’ll immediately wonder why you knelt. Standing allows more leverage for each stroke, and you’ll skim farther and faster on the water.
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One of the best things about paddleboarding is that almost anyone can learn to do it. Obviously, it helps to know how to swim in case you fall off. It also helps to know some basic paddling, such as the wide sweeps to turn and using your paddle as a rudder to help you stop or turn faster. Once you get the hang of paddling, it’s an idyllic way to explore Puget Sound, Lake Union or Lake Washington. If you’re new to paddling, wind makes it harder, so choose a calm day.
In our region, you can pick up a board and a paddle at many places for an hour or so. Don’t let this summer pass by without a paddle or two.
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.