You don’t have to live near the ocean to stand-up paddle on the water. Kd Flanigan Coleman, 33, of Princeton, spent a sunny weekend on Glenwood Lake learning to stand-up paddle, also known as SUP.
“I had been talking about trying it for a years now. I love being on the water, just something calming and renewing about it. One of my best friends, who lives in S.C., now, is a pretty experienced paddler and we talk about it all the time. He has always told me it works everything from your feet to your shoulders but it is a good way to clear your brain. And there can’t be a truer statement about SUP. My abs was even a little tight the next day. Love it,” Coleman said.
She first read about the sport in an outdoor magazine.
In the 60s, surfers in Hawaii started SUP to paddle farther into the ocean or to paddle standing up as a sport. Some say it started when surfers wanted to take photos out on the water. Either way, the trend became widespread across the U.S., from the coast to lakes and rivers. According to an Outdoor Foundation’s 2013 report, stand-up paddling was the most popular outdoor activity among first-time participants in 2013.
In southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, Coleman said almost any body of water could be used to SUP. Those looking for instructors can visit the Adventures on the Gorge to learn the basics on Summersville Lake.
Dave Arnold, the founder of Adventures on the Gorge, near Fayetteville, said SUP was added as an adventure package three years ago. The most popular SUP package takes people to Summersville Lake, where they can propel on the rocks from a platoon boats and stand-up paddle on the water.
“We are an outfitter. That is what we do,” Arnold said. “We are like your best friend. We have all the toys.”
The outfitting group has a full line of boards.
“We have staff members that are really good at SUP,” he said.
Advance paddlers can whitewater SUP in the New River Gorge.
Stand-up paddling can be relaxing, an intense workout or a mixture of both, depending on the water. SUP is a full body workout that focuses on balance and the upper body. The abdominal muscles are used to help balance the body.
Coleman said she saw SUP as a welcoming challenge.
“It involves some of my favorite things — water, balance, core strength and sunshine. Since, I have been slowed down by my ankle injury, this was the perfect opportunity to try it. I called up my bud, he talked me through the ‘how to’s’ and the ‘what not to do’s’, then I set out for the water,” she said
She said the hardest part was trying to balance the board but after a few minutes it became more natural.
“Head up, shoulders square, feet shoulder width apart and look where you want to go,” Coleman advises.
She spent four hours on the board and even practiced a few yoga poses. She also took a quick 20-minute nap on the board.
“I really enjoyed being able to see the water life from on top of the water. I could actually see the fish and turtles swimming in the deep water. It was very cool. Also, doing yoga on the board in the middle of the lake was pretty awesome,” she said.
A commercial lender by day, Coleman is always trying new fitness trends. SUP has her “hooked,” she said. She plans to buy a longer board and get back out on the water.
“As you can imagine, I got a lot of strange looks and stares,” she said. “However, there were some interested folks asking questions and kids that were like ‘Cool, I want to do that.’ After posting my experience on my Facebook page, I received a ton of comments stating they wanted to try it or looks like fun.”
Jennifer Pruett, a three-year employee at Glenwood Park, said she had never seen anybody stand-up paddle at the lake, but knew about the sport.