My friend, LaGenia Baily, has recently discovered paddle boarding. LaGenia is an excellent yoga instructor, but on a recent trip to Hawaii paddle boarding off the coast and a whole new world opened up for her. Today, mid- heat wave, she invited me to join her at Montrose Beach.
Paddle boarding is like standing on a surf board with a paddle. I’ll admit I spent more time in the water than standing on the board, but it was still a blast.
The water was choppy so I have an excuse for falling over, but I was determined to stay up on that board. After several attempts I managed it a little while. It did require some thinking on my part. It meant practicing what I know about biomechanics and balance.
Like many balance sports, I had to lower my center of gravity. I needed to bend my knees, not stand up straight. I had to let myself feel the water and adjust to choppy waves, rather than just fall over.
Well, that’s the theory. But perhaps with more practice…
It was much more of a workout than I expected, particularly for my legs. It must have been all that gripping and balancing, trying to stay upright. This sport is definitely a good core/full body workout. You use your stomach muscles, torso and arms to power the paddle, while your legs and butt muscles keep you on the board.
If you want to give paddle boarding a try, Great Lakes Board Company offers rentals and lessons at North Avenue Beach. I spoke to Ian there and asked if he had any recommendations for how to prepare for the sport. He suggested coming on a weekday, because the water would be calmer. That’s due to less power boat traffic during the week. For that matter, most power boaters aren’t early risers, so a weekend morning would probably still work.
Considering this oppressive heat wave, there’s no better place in Chicago than on Lake Michigan. Stand-up-paddling is a great way to be there.