Hot New Springtime Water Sport: Stand-Up Paddleboarding

(Source: Christy Maskeroni)As spring weather arrives, so does the inspiration to exercise outside, and especially, to get into the water. Alongside surfing, waterskiing, and other warm-weather water sports, the relatively new kid on the block, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), is making waves all across the U.S. With celebrity fans galore (even Naomi Watts was spotted trying SUP on vacation) the sport is growing in popularity, and easy to do all across the U.S. To get the inside scoop on this hot spring fitness trend, we spoke with Miami-based certified SUP instructor Christy Maskeroni, who first fell in love with stand-up paddleboarding when she tried it on NYC's Hudson River, and has been hooked ever since.

So what exactly is stand-up paddle boarding (SUP)?
"Stand-up paddle boarding is a total body exercise that challenges balance, strengthens core, legs and arms. Basically, you're standing on a big surfboard that's almost like a longboard, but it has a little more width than your typical surfboard––so it offers a bit more stability. You stand on the board and you've got a paddle that you're paddling with on both sides of the board. So you've got one paddle, two hands, and a board! What's so fantastic about this activity is that it is a full-body workout, which you do while taking in some pretty spectacular views of nature as you float across the water."

Sounds wonderful. Can it also be a more relaxing activity on smooth waters?
"You can leisurely paddle, so it's a great leisurely activity where you can paddle and enjoy yourself. You're still challenging yourself because you're standing on this unstable surface, you're doing it on the water. The conditions can also challenge you in different ways. You obviously don't want to be out in ridiculously windy conditions, but if you do have a little bit of current or wind, that will give you a bit more of a workout, if you're working against the wind. Or you can go with the wind and allow a nice, leisurely activity."

Do you have to live near the ocean to try?
"What's cool is you can do it in different areas. You can do it on lakes, on bays, in the ocean, you can surf with the board if you've got some waves, and during wintertime, they'll take people into pools and do yoga and fitness classes on the boards in the pool. And there are some pretty avid paddle boarders who are out there in their wetsuits like surfers would be, and they're out paddling. There are also so many variations to the activity that can take form: SUP fitness, SUP yoga, SUP excursions, SUP racing, and SUP surfing. It’s pretty mind-blowing what this board and paddle can offer."

The Stand Up PaddleboarderPaul Hawkins rides a wave on his stand-up paddleboard at Queenscliff Beach on May 1, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. Modern Stand-up paddleboarding originated in Hawaii in the 1960's as a way of surf instructors monitoring their class whilst out in the water. The sport is increasing in popularity globally due to its combination of cardiovascular and 'core' strengthening benefits. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)more pics »What level swimming abilities are required?
"You have to feel comfortable in the water. You don't have to be a competitive swimmer, but knowing how to swim to some degree is important. If you fell in the water you need to not get scared or freak out! Water safety is really important, so I always suggest that if you're trying stand-up paddle boarding for the first time, do it with a certified instructor so you can understand a little bit more about the conditions, how to paddle, what kind of conditions you should and shouldn't paddle in, how to get on and off a board. Those sort of things are important to know, so you don't get stuck in tricky situations––and so you know what to do."

How did you first discover SUP?
"I discovered it several years ago. I saw someone doing it on the Hudson River [in NYC] and I was like, 'What in the world are they doing, I want to do that.'  So I did some research and found classe. I went with a friend of mine, I was like, 'OK, we're doing this in the Hudson River, this is kind of gross and exciting and weird all at once.' I ended up falling in, but I fell in love with it the first time I did it and needed to make it part of my life."

Do you remember how you felt that first time? Sounds exhilirating.
"Yeah, and I get that every time I have a new person come on the board. Your legs shake, there's this fear of falling in the water, for whatever reason. It's a challenge of trying to balance on this board and paddle and enjoy the experience, and it takes a few moments to get used to it."

And this sport is growing, right?
"It's one of the fastest growing water sports. There are races popping up everywhere."

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber in St. Barts 2Naomi Watts and partner Liev Schreiber enjoy a fun filled day on the beach in St Barths with their sons Sasha and Sammy. Watts first took her sons for a climb around the rocks before heading back to the beach for a swim and some stand up paddle boarding while partner Liev did a bit of snorkeling close to shore. (Pacific Coast News)more pics

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