Are you looking for a fun activity that offers you a peaceful experience? Try paddle boarding. I did a paddle-boarding event this weekend at North Ave beach. It was part of our summer social event for my members at POW! MMA & Fitness. It started with a beach workout at 10am and transitioned into a paddle-boarding lesson and an hour of practice out on the lakefront. It was lead by Great Lakes Boarding Company (773-575-4787).
I have seen paddle boarding only on TV or when I watch specials on Hawaii or the surfer life style. I find most of the surfing style sports intriguing. I am one of those people that feels wakeboarding, knee boarding, surfing, diving have a spiritual. So I knew I would have an instant love for paddle-boarding. I was right. It was the most peaceful experience I have had in a while. Beyond learning the technique to stand properly, steering the board and falling off correctly, it was completely tangible and instantly doable.
Paddle-boarding was made popular by Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer married to Gabrielle Reece. It began in the 1950s, providing surfers another mode of transportation and ocean exploration. They hopped on their long board and paddled around. It has been used by many island cultures to maneuver along local waterways. Today, paddle-boarding is one of the fastest growing sports. It is excellent cross-training and develops balance. Because the US Coast Guard classifies stand up paddleboards as vessels, you are required to wear a PFD/life vest.
After checking in with Ian and his staff at the North Ave hut that houses the Great Lakes Paddle Board Company, we were fitted for our paddles. The paddle is adjusted to your height. Then you walk down to the lakefront on the most southern end, near the pier and they give you a quick lesson on properly carrying the board, placing it in the water and choosing the right size. Although they have several different types, even Laird Hamilton’s signature board available to use, most boards are suitable for everyone. I was given a little bit shorter board since I was smaller than the guys and the big guys were given the longest boards.
Next you practice the paddle stroke and how to properly hold the paddle. The technique is simple to learn. Now it is time to strap on the ankle strap, straddle the board, firmly holding onto the paddle and practice jumping up onto both feet. You stand in the center of the board with your knees bent and begin paddling. At first you just simply prove to yourself that you can stand. Yesterday was hot so I was not intimidated by falling in- I welcomed it. But your paddling efforts begin modest and build into larger strokes. The instructor gives you technical assistance as you work through practicing each element. Then you learn to steer and turn. This is when the falling started for me. It is tricky and requires absolute focus at first. But a little laughter after your heads pops up from under the water, feeds your determination to hop back on and do it again.
Needless to say, I found my summer outing for this year. It is not too physical that you are spent for the rest of the day. Once I made my way out into the lake and found a comfortable speed with few obstacles in my way I was able to take the deepest breathes I have taken in weeks. My city was in view and then began my spiritual experience.