Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's SUP?

I think my 4th of July weekend in Wisconsin is trying to tell me something: that I really need to spend more time outside. It started with an injury that left me scared to leave my perch on the couch and continued with Chicago's non-existent spring weather. It only got worse in June where my outdoor pursuits could only catch a break once a week, if that, either due to more bad weather or no time to spare--and none of my usual lake swims came close to happening. Why I'm sharing all of this, I really don't know, but bear with me as I'm getting to my point, I promise.

I'll be the first to admit that my outdoor activities linger at an all-time low this summer, but there's an activity I've had my eye on for at least two years--after reading about a skier who swears by it for core training--that makes me want to take to the water, and fast. It's name? Stand up paddling. Think surfboard, but bigger and sturdier, and add a paddle, and you've got SUP.

Why it's on my radar? Julia Mancuso, Olympic skier extraordinaire who gets lost in the limelight time and again by Lindsey Vonn, pursues SUP off the Hawaiian islands where she lives when she's not ski training and racing. It must work because one look at Mancuso balancing on a stability ball like she did at a Nike Women's Training event in Vancouver and you'd know she has to have a kick-ass core. She made the impossible look easy. And to be honest, I never forgot that, nor the article where I remember reading she SUP'd--thank goodness too or I never would have gotten through a five-minute interview with her.

Why it's a must-try? Sorry, but I can't give just one answer to this question. SUP is taking the mainland by storm with outposts seemingly popping up everywhere. I knew Lake Tahoe and Colorado had them but a new outfit recently opened in Chicago--and when that happens it's practically begging me to give it a shot--and random lakers were SUP'ing in northern Wisconsin on the 4th of July next to the jet-skis, speedboats and pontoons. As for the fitness benefits, I'd take that Mancuso-like core in a heartbeat, especially if the rumor is true that the water helps you forget you're exercising and working those muscles. And since it only requires standing and balancing on the board, it's a water sport this injured gal can handle without too much difficulty--and something to break the monotony of the bike.

Need more reasons to try stand up paddling? Check out my top 10 that I recently shared at If you're not convinced to SUP after that then please take my spot in front of my computer so I can get outside and try.

Photo grabbed from

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