Power to Paddle

Stand-up paddleboarding is gaining popularity in various sectors of the fitness field from yoga masters to extreme-sports enthusiasts. Besides increasing strength and balance, the practice is also an amazing way to explore South Florida waters regardless of age or skill level. “Anyone and everyone can be accommodated and enjoy the sport,” says Chris Ellison, owner of Epic Sessions in Vero Beach. PBI.com chatted with Ellison about the basics and benefits of stand-up paddleboarding as well as what you can expect in a beginner’s lesson.

Paddle boarding - Fit South Florida - Epic Sessions - Vero Beach

PBI.com: What makes paddleboarding a good form of exercise?

Ellison: Stand-up paddleboarding is a good form of exercise because in one session, you are able to utilize balance, strength, and cardio.

What areas of the body does it engage?
I feel as if it engages four different areas. The first part is the brain, [which is engaged] by living in the moment and being conscious of ever-changing conditions such as wind, water currents, and waves. The second is your lower body, which helps with balance and positioning on the board. The third is the core, which provides the majority of the balance. The fourth part is the upper body, [including] the shoulders, back, and arms; these provide strength for your forward propulsion and guide you through all of your turns.

What kinds of waves and conditions can one expect when paddle-boarding in the Palm Beaches in the summer months?

During the summer months in South Florida, the waves are generally small to flat, unless there is a storm in the Atlantic somewhere. I prefer to snorkel off of my paddleboard in the Atlantic Ocean in the summer.

What do you like to eat before you paddleboard?

Before I paddle, I like to eat a banana, which provides potassium that reduces muscles cramps, and peanut butter, which provides protein and carbohydrates for energy. I also like to drink coconut water for natural hydration that reduces muscles fatigue and cramps as well.

What is the most common hurdle beginners face?

The most common hurdle is balancing on the paddleboard while it is floating on the water. The most common mistake is using the paddle backwards.

What does a beginner’s paddleboarding lesson look like?

A beginner stand-up paddleboard lesson starts with teaching the student how to hold and use a paddle correctly on land, then progressing to paddle strokes for power, turning, and stopping. Then we go into water safety and launching the board. From that point, learning how to get on the board is demonstrated. Balancing on the board while paddling is the next progressive step, which leads into how to stand up on the paddleboard and paddle while keeping in mind balance and posture. Finally, docking the board appropriately and safely is demonstrated.

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