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WEEKLY WORKOUT: Erin & Sonya hit the waters of Gray’s Lake to paddle up a sweat

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In this week’s workout we try a sport we never dreamed we’d experience.  Stand up paddle surfing got its start in Hawaii, but you can do it anywhere.  All you need is water – like Gray’s lake, and the right gear.

“My family and I went on vacation to Colorado and they were having standup paddling demos,” explains Katie Gilbert.  After trying it themselves, the whole family was hooked.  “That’s what’s so great about it.  You don’t need much – just a board and a paddle.”  But finding the gear in Iowa is what proved difficult for the Gilberts.  They ended up ordering from out of state – never dreaming a business of their own would be born.

“Everyone and their brother wanted to learn.  Everyone wanted to come out and paddle with us so we ended up starting a company and ordering a whole group of boards.”  “No Coast Stand Up” is Iowa’s only full, stand up paddling shop and Katie insists she can teach us the basics.

“You don’t really need skills,” she says with a laugh.  “Of course, balance – but you learn it over time, it’s just learning your foundation.”  And at least in the beginning – it’s not your feet!

“You’re going to be on your knees,”  Katie shows us.  We start close to the board – and we’ll stay here for a while.  Frankly, we can’t even imagine standing up.  Katie explains that the trick is to pick up some speed first – otherwise, we’ll end up in the lake.

“People who normally fall in are surfers, because they want to take that surf stance.  On flat water, there’s no momentum and that’s when they go in the water.”  That is exactly what we’re worried about.  And with good reason – going from kneeling to standing is intimidating for first-timers like us.

And once we’re up, we’re wobbling.  We get constant encouragement from the Gilbert family – including five-year-old Colton.  “Paddle harder!  Bend your knees!”  It doesn’t take long for us to understand how they all caught the standup paddling bug.

“It was so much fun,” Katie says with a grin, “and then when you got off the board you realized your arms hurt, your legs hurt, your core was sore … it’s a great time.”  It is a blast, and there are big fitness benefits.  “If it’s a windy day and I’m really working I can get my heart rate up to the same thing as when I’m cycling,” Katie tells us.

This is also a wonderful workout for people with bad feet, ankles, knees or hips – since there’s no impact.  Katie even shows us how to get on the board dockside, so that we don’t have to start on our knees.

By the end of our time on Gray’s Lake we realize we will probably never be as skilled or as stylish as little Colton, who’s showing us all sorts of tricks … but this is one workout we loved trying and it was find to find out there are no waves required.

“Our goal was just to get people off the couch, out on the water and experience. I mean, look … we’re in the middle of downtown Des Moines and we have a beautiful lake!”

Katie’s enthusiasm is contagious and we know you’ll have fun trying standup paddling.  Check out http://www.nocoaststandup.com/ or friend them on facebook to find out when you can try it for free!

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