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Body by SUP?

Vol. IV, No. 23

An unknown paddler works on her physique by stand-up paddleboarding. Photo by Allen Clark /

An unknown paddler tries to improve her physique (and view some fish) by stand-up paddleboarding. Photo by Allen Clark /

“It works out your core” has become a popular saying across the last decade. Cores are in. So is paddleboarding, or “SUPing.” What’s all the rage, and is paddleboarding really a good form of fitness and body toning? Actually, yes, it seems it is.

Some say that paddleboarding for 1/2 hour is like running six miles. Others add that an average 1-hour paddleboard workout can burn 500-1000 calories. There are many different opinions on this, but all of the writers tend to agree that paddleboarding is a very efficient way to burn calories and get fit. And I have noticed that after SUPing a few days in a row, I begin to develop the slightest bit of definition in my abs, only to be ruined by some cookies, pasta, or french fries in subsequent days. But for a dedicated frequent paddler, I believe it would work. It should be noted, though, that those same folks who say that paddleboarding is one of the top five calorie-burning fitness activities acknowledge that swimming is number one. So if you really want to have an efficient workout, go for a swim!

Still, paddleboarding is cool, and has other benefits. I first stood on a paddleboard in 2007. It was introduced to me by a group of kiteboarders who used paddleboarding as a stay-fit and stay-close-to-the-water activity when there wasn’t enough wind to kite.  Now having exploded well beyond the niche kiter and surfer segment of the population, and perhaps in its heyday, SUPing has earned a legitimate place in our fitness-oriented society. It requires pretty simple equipment (that is until you start rigging your board up with fishing rods, coolers, or the practically obligatory GoPro), it provides a way to explore any body of water from city-front rivers to inland lakes, protected sounds to open oceans, and it gives the user a “bird’s eye” sort of view, and you can bring your dog!

I have paddled a few dozen times in the clear waters of Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean, and I’ve seen the following species below me, all of which I don’t think I would have seen from a kayak, and I certainly wouldn’t have seen from the beach: a spotted eagle ray, a cormorant swimming, two types of baby sharks (one of them either a hammer head or a bonnet head), a manatee, a sea turtle and numerous species of fish and stingrays. Sometimes traveling slower than a person walking has it’s benefits (I once raced some beach-walkers, unbeknownst to them, and lost).

So if only my time permitted, I’d be out every day trying to develop a SUP 6-pack. Why not give it a try? Longshore Sailing School rents SUPs for $20 an hour – the best deal I’ve seen in all of my travels.