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We Tried It: Paddleboarding

Want to feel like you’re standing on water? Grab a paddleboard the next time you’re heading to the lake or river. This aquatic sport is a zen-like fusion of canoeing and surfing.  As a huge fan of kayaking, canoeing’s speedier cousin, it was a surprisingly smooth transition.  Even if you’ve never picked up a paddle, paddleboarding is a cinch to pick up.
Don’t be intimidated if you’re not a regular wave-catching wahine. Having only surfed twice in my life (and only once did I actually stand on the board), I thought my lackluster surfing skills would make paddleboarding a challenge. Hardly. Keeping your balance while paddling is easier than it looks. The key is choosing a long board (preferably 12 to 19 feet) and maintaining a wide stance for stability.
Starting off in calmer waters is a must for beginners. The first time I went out, I lost my balance and fell off from a passing boat’s wake. Thank goodness for life vests! After that fumble, I made a point to stay balanced using my hips, not my head, and to keep my eye on the horizon, not my feet. If you're still a li'l nervous about standing up on the board, you can always kneel on the board. That's how I took my little niece and cousin for a ride, once I got the hang of it.
Unlike kayaking’s almost tiring short and rapid strokes, paddleboarding’s smoother and slower motions faintly feel like navigating a gondola in Venice. That being said, don’t let paddleboarding’s serene, semi-lackadaisical motions fool you. Your shoulders and back will most certainly feel the burn the next day. So will your quads, should you switch it up and kneel on the board.
Muscle-building workout aside, paddleboard is a peaceful way to de-stress and unwind without busting out a yoga mat. Gracefully gliding on the water is so relaxing that it hardly feels like you’re exercising. Plus, who doesn’t love spending time on the water under the hot summer sun? Ah-mazing.

BY KARMEN FOX ON 7/7/2011 12:00:00 PM

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