Cold Water Paddling

This is the time of year when I tend to hide inside with a bowl Golden Grahams watching re-runs of House Hunters International while simultaneously looking up cheap flights to somewhere south. I must admit, Southern Ontarians have been spoiled this year with some pretty great autumn weather and this is making me dread the ball-busting, wet winter Lake Ontario winds even more than usual. Being cold is probably one of the things I hate the most, but I’ve made it my mission this year to embrace the cold weather and get outside….and on the water.

Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon
Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon

In order to get ready for some cold water paddling, I’ve invested in some key pieces of equipment. Firstly, surf booties were a must-buy. The rubber sole and neoprene (wet suit material) upper helps keep the water out and the toes dry. The second item on my to-buy list was a pair of neoprene gloves which, like the booties, help keep the hands warm and dry. For the remainder of the cold water gear, I managed to make do with some existing stuff – including a waterproof shell jacket and lightweight, full-length yoga pants.

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What’s the big fuss about Stand-Up Paddleboarding?

“I don’t get it. Isn’t it just stand up kayaking? Or surfing for the uncoordinated? ”

If you’re a stand up paddler, you may have encountered a few people who simply just don’t get the appeal of stand up paddleboarding. And chances are, those people probably haven’t tried it yet.

Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon
Toronto Waterfront. Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon

Stand-up paddleboarding is reportedly one of the fastest growing sports in the world, so there has got to be a few good things about it. Here are just a few reasons why (I think) the sport is becoming so popular:

It’s a good workout: unless you’re a SUP racer, stand up paddling won’t give you an intense Crossfit-style workout. However, what it will do is provide a low-impact full body workout. Paddling will sculpt your arms and shoulders and the balance required to stay upright on your board provides a great workout for all your stabilizer muscles in your feet, ankles, legs, hips and abs.  SUP yoga has also been gaining popularity as a new take on the ancient practice.

It’s accessible: Unlike other board sports like surfing and kite-boarding, stand up paddling has very few barriers to entry. Some people are reluctant to take up a new sport if they feel that they can’t commit enough time to it to become a least marginally decent at it. With stand up paddling, you’ll get the hang of it on your very first time. This makes stand up paddling something that people of all abilities and ages can participate in, even people recovering from illness and injury. A post from last week highlighted the results from a great research study on the effects of stand up paddling for recovering breast cancer patients. Stand-up paddling is also a low fuss sport – all you need is a board, a paddle and a sense of adventure. There is no need for super fancy equipment (unless you want to splurge).

Sauble River, ON. Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon
Sauble River, ON. Photo by: Shannon M at PaddleWagon

The cool factor: It’s true. Stand-up paddleboarding is just plain cool right now. Social media is full of pictures of celebrities stand-up paddleboarding, like Jen Aniston in Hawaii and supermodel Gisele Bundchen and hubby Tom Brady in the Bahamas. Even pro surfers like Laird Hamilton have taken up SUPing which has created some street cred for the new sport.

What do you like most about stand up paddleboarding? Leave your comments or send me an email 🙂

PaddleOn: remarkable effects of stand-up paddling on cancer recovery

For me, stand up paddling provides the mind-clearing benefits of my hot yoga class without having to contort my rather inflexible self into uncomfortable positions in unbearable heat and also the stress-busting effects that my money-sucking downtown bootcamp does…all in the great outdoors.  As a personal (and unscientific) advocate for the benefits of stand-up paddling, I was pleased to hear that my self-centric views of the sport’s health benefits are supported by research – and really important research.

Image source: Pinc and Steel Rehabilitation Trust
Image source: Pinc and Steel Rehabilitation Trust

I recently learned about a remarkable new program called PaddleOn established by the Pinc and Steel Rehabilitation Trust and supported by New Zealand’s Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2015, a pilot of the program was launched to study the effects of stand up paddling over an 8-week period for 62 women battling breast cancer. The results were incredible – with improvements in weight loss, balance and strength as well as psychological improvements in mood, memory and energy levels. The research also noted an increase in confidence levels for the participants as well as an opportunity to be on the water with a group of women facing similar personal challenges.

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The Inflatable Debate

When Going Soft Can be a Good Thing

Inflatable stand up paddleboards (SUPs) are becoming increasingly popular. And for good reason – they are significantly lighter than hard boards and are easily transportable and storable.

As a condo-dweller with very limited storage space, I am a huge fan of inflatable SUPs. I got my inflatable board about two years ago and it’s been one of the best purchases I have ever made. It fits in a large duffel bag and I can throw it into the trunk of my car and take it absolutely anywhere. I’ve explored many places in Ontario on my inflatable SUP – from flat water canals and ponds to 20+ kilometer river paddles (with rapids) on the Saugeen River.

Here’s a fast motion video of me rolling up my board from this past weekend. Compact, right?!

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