Treadmills, steppers, aerobic classes.
What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear these activities. For me, it's boredom! Sure, they burn some calories, you get a sweat up, but it takes some serious concentration for a decent session.
What if there was an alternative?
An activity that has the same, if not better training effect and also provides incredible eye candy.
An activity that teaches you incredible balance.
An activity that gives a whole body workout - arms, chest, legs, back, abs, butt - the whole lot.
Well, it's here, and is quietly growing at a rapid pace. With it's roots in Hawaii, Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is catching on as an incredibly 'new' sport, despite being around for over 50 years.
Only now, SUP is entering the mainstream...there are now plenty of quality manufacturers and designers getting involved, clubs starting and social events held.
So how does it Stand Up Paddle work?
At its simplest level, its not much more than than an oversized surfboard and a paddle. You stand on the board and you paddle. At first sight it looks a bit strange.
You might even be thinking,"i've tried kayaks and canoes".
Let me assure you its like nothing you've ever tried before. When people who try it, something strange happens. Maybe it's the feeling that you are walking on water. Maybe it's the thrill of learning new skills? Maybe it's simple because you're scooting across water. Whatever it is, it can bight hard and you find yourself lusting after another session.
Most people awake the next morning having "discovered" a few new muscles. Even seasoned, fit and healthy athletes find it uses muscles perhaps left neglected by their other sports.
SUP awakens the whole potential of cross training.
And what better way to exercise on a hot day, than enjoying the view as you paddle across a nice cool body of water?!
For most people, their first effort will be a sedentary putt around while they learn balance, and take in the new environment.
Usually a great session full of laughs and discovery. Zoom ahead to the elite paddlers who have been doing it for years, and you'll see them training, and it's amazing to watch.
At the elite end of the sport, these guys are using their bodies like pistons and absolutely belt along.
Like so many sports, there are many disciplines.
Recreational flat water paddling.
This is getting out there with some friends, and doing a circuit, taking in the sites, or even getting in the car to check out new spots. Anywhere there's water is a potential candidate for a new adventure.
Your bigger boards will get up and going super easy and you'll be riding waves that are from ankle high. You may not be going to be the next Kelly Slater, but the volume of the boards mean they get going on the smallest of waves. Many long boarders, and short boarders frustrated at not being able to surf when the swell is not super pumping are turning to SUP to get those extra days in.
The major difference between traditional surfing and SUP is the take off. Shortboarding, you're lying prone, and SUP .. well .. you're standing up! Once you're on the wave, everything else is very familiar.
Using extra long boards, and going out in windy conditions, these paddlers seek out "runners" which are swells created by the wind. Using a keen eye, and skills honed from practise, they can sustain an almost jogging pace, and yet at times not even be paddling. Getting onto a runner can be an intense paddle, getting your heart and breathing up, then a short rest while on the runner. Natures own perfectly designed high intensity interval training! (HIIT)
What kind of fitness does SUP provide?
The motion of paddling, while standing up, is quite a unique exercise. With the right technique, it's like a sit-up, bent over row, deadlift, fly & squat all in one. If you know your exercises, you'll know that these are all your compound exercises, and hit all the major muscle groups. This means serious calorie consumption, which in turn means fat burning!
Initially you may not be able to go to hard, but as you build your strength, and your fitness improves, the fat will begin to drip off, your six pack will be developing, your chest will be expanding, your butt tightening, your back building and your legs will feel powerful.
You only need to look at photos of paddlers to see that it's an excellent all body workout. And the stronger you get, the harder you can push it.
But.. I'm getting carried away. It doesn't have to be all hard core strength & fitness.
Many women enjoy a casual paddle around - it really burns the fat like you wouldn't believe, as it's the perfect cross between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
The beauty of this sport is that you can go as hard as you like, or take it easy for a stress busting relaxing time out.
So, how do you get started?
Well, the sport is bursting at the seams, and retailers and associations are putting on plenty of "Have a go" days, where you can try the sport, and sample a variety of boards. SUP training schools are popping up, where you can hire the boards for an hour, and do training sessions down a fixed course with other fitness minded people.
A complete list of "have a go" days are listed at the internet home of SUP in Australia - seabreeeze.com.au. On Seabreeze, you'll find a vibrant SUP community (the 'Breezers'), photos, videos, events, latest SUP news and a large range of second hand boards listed by members.
Australia, being the famous watersports nation that it is, have taken to SUP like a duck to water. Many of our rivers and oceans are now featuring the sight of Stand Up Paddlers enjoying the outdoors, and getting fit in the process.
, join the forums, introduce yourself to the friendly community, and make your way down to a demo day.
You won' regret it, and neither will your body & mind!