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Paddle Boarding 101, Easy and So Fun

by Nicole Dorsey Straff

As challenging as swimming but less intimidating than surfing, flat-water paddle boarding is a total-body core workout that you won’t find in any health club or yoga studio. This total-body workout really hones in on your core muscles – hips, abs, back and buttocks muscles – and teaches you how to calm down inside even while you’re heating up on the outside. The meditative views are killer, but wear sunglasses with UVA protection since there’s mega-glare on any body of water you’re boarding on.

I caught the tail end of REI’s recent Paddle Board 2-hour class at Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey, Calif. I learned how to tap into my deepest core muscles and use arm strength to pop up on the board. I’ve surfed before but this sport is much easier and more fun all around — the board feels huge and wide and safer —  especially in the beginning. Excited novices often claim it “feels like walking on water.” It truly does. Way fun!

Skill needed: Even beginners with a moderate amount of muscular strength can master the sport in a session or two.
Kids and seniors welcome: Paddle boarding is an excellent activity to do with friends and kids who can swim. At the end of lesson one, you’ll be paddling with confidence regardless of your fitness level.

Here are top tips from REI’s rowing experts:

  1. Learn the proper stance for balance and control and practice your turning techniques before you ever head offshore
  2. Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6- to 8-inches taller than you are (some users recommend 10 inches)
  3. Carry it like a pro: Lean the board on its rail (edge), reach for the handle and tuck the board under one arm. Carry your board with the other hand, and you’re already beginning to look like a pro.

For other fun-in-the-sun ideas of how to lose excess summer flab and shape-up from head to toe Organic Spa style, log onto our blogs and follow our bloggers and other spa and health experts.

Photo credit: Courtesy REI

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