Hoe He'e Nahu


By Matt Evans
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Tyler Lennon of Cove Paddle Fitness stand-up paddleboards with his wifeI first tried Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) in the birthplace of SUP, Hawaii.  My friend and I rented boards, laid down on them to paddle out beyond the break, and set to give the stand-up thing a try.  After the initial wobble or two, I found the board very stable and quite easy to get the hang of.  The all-around SUP boards are typicality longer, wider and thicker than traditional surf boards. The increase in length, thickness and wider profile make for boards more stable and forgiving.  We paddled around in the calm water, trying out different footings and paddle techniques and having a blast.  Then we got cocky. 

Doing SUP in calm water is one thing, taking it in on some waves is a whole different story.  Trying to balance the board, figure out how to paddle, and somehow steering the giant foam core in the tumbling whitewater of a very small in-shore breaker was quite challenging.  I got plenty of practice getting back up on my board after plunging into the surf.  And that really describes the draw of SUP, it is easily done by the beginner, yet has an incredible array of possibilities for challenge and adventure.

Stand up paddle boarding, or Hoe he'e nalu , is an emerging global sport with Hawaiian heritage. The sport is an ancient form of surfing, and has come back as a tremendously flexible way to get out on the water and enjoy paddling.  According to Paddleboard Specialists, the popularity of the modern sport of SUP has its origination in the Hawaiian Islands. In the early 1960s, the Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their long boards, and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. This is where the term "Beach Boy Surfing", another name for Stand Up Paddle Surfing, originates.1

Some simply paddle around in flat water like lakes or calm oceans like me, while others ride big waves just like a traditional surfer.  Still others are now taking the SUP to rivers and shooting whitewater runs where only kayaks and canoes have previously dared to paddle.

Another aspect of SUP is fitness.  Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a great full body workout and SUPs are used as a cross-training tool by athletes around the world, primarily because stand up paddling works just about every muscle in your body. According to The House Outdoor Gear Shop it is estimated that by paddleboarding for one hour, a male can burn anywhere from 800-1000 calories while females burn between 500-700 calories per hour. When compared with the 500-700 calories burned by men and 300-500 calories burned by women while running on a treadmill.  And – how much more fun is getting out there on the water than running in-place on a treadmill inside?2

Woman doing fitness on stand up paddleboard

Many equipment rental shops will even run fitness classes on stand-up boards.  In Malibu, California, Cove Paddle Fitness offers a blend of aerobic exercise with strength training while floating on the water.  It works your core and you'll get an upper and lower body work consisting of push-ups, squats, crunches-sprints; all in an hour.  Their Balanced Life Program takes it a step further, combining physical fitness, philosophy, and SUP all in one.  The mantra: “FAITH+FAMILY+FRIENDSHIP+FITNESS = FINISHING WELL.

Their Balanced Life philosophy is a whole-person experience.  Just as a healthy core provides the body with balance, stability and power, a weak core can result in poor posture, and leave one prone to injury. The same concept is true for other core issues in life. Whether it involves faith, relationships, career, or health in general, if any of these areas are weak, the result can be a life that’s out of balance, unfulfilled, and void of purpose and wholeness. Balance Life addresses all these issues, tending to each one with a network of experts trained to help people restore harmony and thrive, all while learning to Balance Life."3

A group of Stand-Up PaddleboardersSUP shops are popping up everywhere, from Hawaii to California to the East Coast.  These shops, like Cove Paddle Fitness, rent equipment, give lessons, and organize SUP events on their local beaches.  They are great places to meet other people interested in Stand-Up Paddleboarding as well.  Whether you're an expert or just getting started, finding a like-minded community is half the battle to getting out there regularly.

At Cove Paddle Fitness you can start on flat water in Marina Del Rey Harbor, or check out some wildlife while paddling around the beaches and coves of Malibu.  For the more experienced paddleboarder, bigger surf can be found at Point Dume or Latigo Point.  Your local shop will have information for your area.

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About the Author

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  • Matt_Evans's picture

    Matt Evans is a contributing editor for Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine. Matt loves to explore God's great outdoors and discover how God reveals himself in the majesty of His creation. He lives out his adventure in Alaska with his wife and three children. 

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