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My New Favorite Workout: Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Written on March 16, 2011 at 11:38 am , by

Paddleboarding off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island (That's me, third from the right)

Paddleboarding off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island (That's me, third from the right!)

Alright, so living in New York City doesn’t exactly permit me to paddleboard any old day of the week. However, I recently got the chance to tour Hawaii’s Big Island courtesy of the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort, where I took the opportunity to learn how to paddleboard in their gorgeous, ocean-fed lagoon.

If you’re not familiar with stand-up paddleboarding, it’s exactly how it sounds: standing up on a surfboard while using a paddle to propel you through the water. Our guides from Hawaii Ocean Sports started our group off in the resort’s protected lagoon, which allowed us to get the hang of balancing on the board without the added challenge of the ocean waves. I was surprised to find myself engaging muscles I hadn’t used in awhile (hey there, lower calves!) and getting a pretty great ab workout as I used my core to stay upright.

When standing up on the board, your upper body does most of the work to pull you through the water. But once we started to make our way toward the open ocean, our guide instructed us to drop to our knees (first to duck under a low bridge, second to avoid falling into shallow, rocky water). On my knees it was a whole new workout — though I no longer needed to work as hard to stay on the board, being low to the water required lots of ab strength to pull my big paddle through the water.

This was, by far, the most fun workout I had in Hawaii (and I tried Aqua Zumba! More on that later…). It was amazing to be so mobile in the water, as opposed to simply riding waves back to shore on a traditional surfboard.  And, as you can see in the photo above, the scenery was unstoppable. I paddled past sea turtles and got up close to fish of every color imaginable — which sure beats my usual view from the treadmill!