, Newburyport, MA


August 25, 2010

Stand-up paddleboarding offers killer core workout

If you've spent any time on the beaches of Salisbury, Seabrook or Hampton this summer, you've likely experienced what may have felt like a hallucination when a person in the distance appeared to be walking along the surface of the ocean.

The newest craze causing these mistaken hallucinations, stand-up paddleboarding, is quickly gaining popularity along both fresh and salt-water shores. One of the fastest growing sports in Hawaii and California, stand-up paddleboarding, according to Seabrook's Zapstix Surf Shop employee James Morse, has become more popular than surfing at the local level in recent weeks.

Last summer, I gave the new sport a test workout, at the urging of Peter Sleight, founder of Everactive health and fitness coaching.

Since it was my first experience with the sport, Sleight and I agreed that the calm waters of Walden Pond in Concord would be a better locale than the ocean.

I was primed for a workout that is widely described as a core-killer. Minutes after I met Sleight and his training partner, John Furey, the latter of the two attempted to calm my nerves by sharing that his 72-year-old mother had recently completed her first paddleboarding session without falling once.

No pressure.

Since the temperature was relatively cool for the 6 a.m. workout, Sleight advised me to wear a T-shirt to keep warm. My surfboard was slightly wider and longer than an average surfboard. As I pushed from the shore in knee-deep water, I laid atop the board as if I were preparing to catch a wave.

Feeling slightly unbalanced, I walked my feet to the middle of the board — feet shoulder-width apart — and set my balance. Before I knew it, I was standing on water.

From that point forward, I don't remember feeling any anxiety about the potential for capsizing on my board. It was a relatively steady feeling, almost like standing on the floor of a moving sailboat.

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