If you told me that you could combine my love of rowing, surfing and nature all into one package, I would hug you. Well that’s exactly what happened to the lucky dude who introduced me to Stand Up Paddling (or SUP). When I planted my feet on the stand up board for the first time, I was sure I’d be swimming in the Deschutes River within a few strokes. But doubt was quickly replaced with delight and I moved gracefully up river (away from the dam).

The steady burn in my upper body and legs were unexpected; people doing SUP make it look smooth and effortless. This was a real sport! Like rowing a single, I felt that same passion of locking the blade in the water and letting the boat run. The best part was that my wife, Amy, was paddling beside me – and our athletic differences or abilities didn’t matter here.

SUP is relatively new to the fitness and sporting world but for many good reasons, the sport is ramping up. Soak up these tips to jump into SUP and get a fresh workout experience. Although it’s easy to learn and most people don’t go
“in the drink”  often, don’t be the guy who forgets to take the cell phone out of his pocket!

The Board:

  • Rent before buying to give you a nice feel for the sport and to help determine what board is best for you. Most shops have demo packages with quick, affordable lessons to help you with the basics. These should come with lifejackets and a leash especially if you’re going into large open waters.
  • Borrow a board to try it out. Just hope your friend can give you a little tutorial. If not, see below tips.
  • Buy if you have tried SUP before and are in the market for your own “ride,” be sure to buy according to the primary use of your board – long distance touring? Surfing? A combo of the two? Do your homework or contact my local expert Christian at standuppaddlesurfari.com. He knows his Stand Up shizzle!


The Workout:

  • Not only is SUP a low-impact, full body workout similar to rowing, but it primarily hits the core and back and tests the balance skills. You will be surprised by how many muscles are needed just to stand on choppy water.
  • Throwing a board on your car makes accessibility to lakes, rivers and oceans very easy and a fun way to explore new territory.
  • What a perfect way to spend time with a friend or loved one.


The Technique:

  • Adjust the paddle length: With the blade on the ground and shaft vertical, hold the handle (arm above your head) and your elbow should be slightly bent.
  • Start with an appropriate board for you. The longer and wider, the more stable it will be.
  • Flat water is easier, choppy is more difficult. Keep in mind that even with a surfing background, I started on the flat.
  • Begin by kneeling, then rise to standing when comfortable.
  • When paddling, aim to place the blade about 2 ft. out in front of you and release about 1 ft. behind your hips.
  • Work with rather stiff arms and focus on power coming from the core, back and hips.
  • Absorb the shock of waves or chop with bending of the knees.
  • Have fun and know that just like with a bike, a little speed brings stability.

Last note: As a great man once said to me when I started rowing, “If you don’t get wet once in awhile, you ain’t trying!”  Thanks Dad.