SUP WomenDecember 22, 2015
Women who are looking for a new and different way to enjoy the outdoors, add some variety to their workout routine, or spend some quality time with family and friends, can now find SUP as a perfect option for their past time activity. The fast–growing sport of Stand Up Paddling has become tremendously popular over the past several years among women.
Particularly, SUP Yoga has grown steadily and is changing the way women practice yoga around the globe. Actually, the increasing number and the diversity of females getting involved in SUP shows that nearly anyone can enjoy one of the many aspects of the sport, either from the adrenaline rush of surfing waves in Tahiti to a mellow cruise of a local lake or river.
Apart from SUP Yoga, the many disciplines of SUP also include recreational touring, fitness, surfing, racing, and even whitewater/river running. To no surprise, each offers a different kind of enjoyment on the water, and in whatever form, the sport provides total body and core strengthening and toning.
For women who are interested in experiencing what SUP is all about, below will outline some rough ideas of how to get started and what the sport can offer for women.
SUP Benefits : Why Women Should Stand Up Paddle?
One of the best parts about SUP is its simplicity and versatility. It requires minimal equipment and it can be done almost anywhere that has water. More often, women are up and paddling with confidence only after one lesson. Many times, women tend to find their balance more quickly than men do. Hence, SUP is a sport most women can get the hang of on the very first try.
Women who want to improve their fitness level should try SUP since it helps improve balance and constantly challenges the stabilizing muscles of the body. The great part of SUP is that most of the time you don’t even realize it’s a form of exercise because it’s so much fun. People who stand up paddle regularly (at least three times a week) build amazing core strength, arm muscles and overall body alignment. Literally, it is the only sport out there that gives you a workout of every muscle from head to toe.
With SUP, you can go solo to get away from a hectic schedule and reconnect with nature or you can spend time with your friends or family, doing a sport together, enjoying the scenery from a totally new perspective.
Kick–Starting Your SUP!
To kick-start Stand Up Paddling, just follow the general steps below:
Mounting the board
- First, stand alongside the board and place your paddle across the deck of the board. The paddle grip is on the rail/edge of the board, and the blade must rest on the water.
- One hand hold the board by the edges. The other hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
- Pop yourself onto the board into a kneeling position, just a little bit behind the center point of the board.
- From that kneeling position, get a feel of balance. Notice that the nose shouldn’t be popping up out of water and the tail shouldn’t be digging in. Use your hands to help stabilize the board.
- When you feel stable enough, start by standing up one foot at a time at the center of the board. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. This distance enhances your balance on the board.
- Remember to keep your back straight, knees slightly bent, toes forward, and feet parallel on the board. Don’t stand too close to the edges of the board as your feet might slip off the board easily.
- Place one hand on the grip of your paddle and the other on the shaft. Keep your arms straight and think of your arms and your paddle shaft as an equal sided triangle.
- Remember that the bend in the paddle should be pointing behind you. This is probably the most common mistake that many beginners make because the blade is not meant to hook the water. So, the blade of the paddle should look like a forward facing spoon. It will work a bit counter-intuitively until you get used to it.
- Make sure that, whichever side you paddle, that hand must be lower on the shaft with your opposite hand gripping the handle at the top.
- Keep your arms straight when paddling, twist and rotate from your center, and use your torso to paddle by twisting rather than pulling with your arms. When your torso is fully engaged in paddling, your abdominal muscles will help carrying the load, and this is the core workout everyone talks about with SUP.
- Push the blade into the water in front of you with your top hand, Bury that blade until it is totally submerged, pull through toward the back until the paddle is even and stopping at your ankle or your feet. Then lift the paddle and repeat or switch sides. Keep your momentum.
- Start with small paddles to get you moving, and your forward momentum posture will help you balance. When learning your stroke, keep them fairly short. Shorter strokes are more efficient than extra-long strokes.
- To stay in a relatively straight line do a few strokes on one side then switch sides and hand positions. This will help you in keeping your board going forward in a straight line.
In any case, getting a lesson from a reputable and qualified instructor is recommended. Check online for paddleboard dealers in the area or even online resources for the latest gear, board demo locations, and events. Stand up board and paddle company websites also offer great insight into kinds of equipment available and where to purchase. Starboard SUP website also has useful information on shops and schools.
Women’s Must-Have SUP Items
1. Women’s Board
Women tend to be lighter than men so they also don’t necessarily need a SUP board that is as long or as thick. However, for beginners, it doesn’t matter so much if a woman is initially on a longer/bigger board than they need. At the start though, too big a board is not a problem as this can help to get on to waves. In a case where a girl wants to start carving up some waves, a board that is too big, or has really thick edges, will be harder to turn.
Once you decide to have a board of your own, you can begin by asking a local outdoor retailer that carries stand up paddleboards if they hold ‘demo days’. Also, try out as many boards and paddles as possible before purchasing.
The other crucial element to get moving is your paddle. Using a paddle that is too long could easily cause unwanted injury. Long paddles tend to be very hard on the shoulders. SUP paddles come in either adjustable or fixed length versions with different materials and technologies. The right length for your paddle should be about 8-10″ taller than you.
3. Appropriate (and appealing) Apparels
As women, we like to look good. Therefore, appropriate and appealing apparel is a must. Make sure that clothing is lightweight and sun protecting, and is suitable for the water where you go paddling. There are ranges of women’s SUP clothing online for you to pick from.
4. Safety Gears and Other Recommended Gears
Leash is always a good idea, though not necessary, for a beginner. It attaches you to the paddleboard to prevent it getting away from you in case you fall into the water. For those who like to adventure a little farther, Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is necessary when you paddle out of surf or swim zone.
Also, to make you enjoy the sun and scenery without getting burned, sun protection – sun block, hat, sunglasses, and UV protective lightweight clothing — is a must. Keep hydrating by bringing along water in bottles or camelback. Whistle or other noise making signal device or any waterproof GPS unit is also recommended.
Some Safety Tips & Techniques
1. Always wear a leash that attaches you to the board.
Never underestimate the weather. The water may look calmer in flat water, compared to the ocean. Yet, if the winds pick up unexpectedly, you can be separated from your board when you fall. It is possible that you could be stranded while watching your board drifts quickly away downwind! So, it is wise never forget to wear your leash. It can be a lifesaver when you fall in the water.
2. Dig Deep! Plant your paddle in the water
A good paddling stroke ensures that you are able to paddle in any condition and in any wind direction. Make sure to paddle with extended arms. Always use your core to pull it along the rail of the board. Lift the paddle out at your feet and don’t pull the paddle all the way to the tail of the board because, in fact, that will slow you down!
3. Look up, not down!
It’s important to focus on where you are going and the best way to do that is to look ahead. You also are able to keep your balance better if you look to the horizon, which in turn makes you paddling straight and giving you the best perspective of the view and the scenery. Once you look down, it is more likely that you will fall as it is more difficult to keep your balance.
4. Always Wear Sunscreen
Make sure you wear sunscreen, and be well-hydrated by keeping a bottle of water nearby. Drink plenty and have a well-balanced meal before setting out on your board as you will burn a lot of calories on the day.
5. Check the weather before going out!
It is imperative that you always check the weather or wind forecast, because we are certain you don’t want to get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.