Paddle Fit a tough workout

When you see people gently paddling up and down alongside the beach on their stand up paddleboards, it looks incredibly peaceful and serene. That’s probably why, when Weekender heard that Waterman were offering Paddle Fit classes on Seven Mile Beach, we were expecting something rather calm and, well, easy really.

It was a bit of a shock, then, to turn up at 8am on a Saturday morning, still rubbing the sleep from our eyes, and be told quite cheerfully that this was going to be like Cross Fit, but with the added challenge of trying to do it standing on a wobbly board.

This Weekender wasn’t prepared for – even though the use of the word ‘fit’ in the name should have served as a hint that this was going to involve a little more than lying down on the board for a spot of sunbathing.

Kiristen has been offering Paddle Fit classes since May and has just returned from completing her level III Paddle Fit instructor training in San Diego. She’s the only person in the Caribbean to hold this qualification, making this a pretty unique activity to get involved in.

“It’s a great way to get fit in a new and fun way, especially for those who don’t like the gym,” she says. “You get a fun workout, you’re working on your paddle technique at the same time and you’re meeting new people.”

Kiristen keeps it fresh and fun by changing the classes up all the time so it’s always different but challenging. And she likes to keep the groups small so it’s in no way intimidating.

On this particular day there were just four of us and the workout started with a short but intense land-based warm up which included jogging up and down the beach, lunges, backward lunges and walking on our hands and feet. It was go, go, go with no pause to catch one’s breath. Within just a few minutes Weekender was panting heavily and wondering if we would survive the hour.

There was no chance to make a sneaky escape, however. No sooner was the warm up complete that it was into the water with boards and paddles straight away for some circuit training. The drill was to paddle from a start point, around a buoy, back to the start point and immediately drop down for 10 push ups. 
As soon as you were done, you would paddle around the buoy and back again and this time perform 10 squats. Next: paddle, paddle, paddle, 10 crunches. Paddle, paddle, paddle, 10 planks. And so it went on, each of us completing as many rounds as we could.

It’s easy to kid yourself you are reasonably fit when you are not comparing yourself to anybody else. But when you’re wheezing like an asthmatic while other people are completing lap after lap as if they were taking an easy stroll through the park, it’s usually a sign that there is room for improvement.

Paddle Fit was definitely challenging, but somehow being on the water, breathing fresh air, in the quiet of the early morning, made it a far more enjoyable way to get a workout than running or cycling to absolutely nowhere on a machine in an air conditioned gym.

Kiristen’s enthusiasm was infectious, and despite Weekender’s feeble fitness levels, her constant encouragement did wonders to keep us going all the way – until we reached the blissful “cool down” phase.

Then we were able to lie down on the boards and perform a few gentle yoga-style stretches. Not being tethered to anything, we slowly drifted, as a group, down Seven Mile Beach, enjoying the morning sunshine and a satisfying sense of achievement.

Paddle Fit classes run on Wednesdays at 7am and Saturdays at 8am. The cost is $20 including the SUP. For more information, call 769-7873.

It was a bit of a shock, then, to turn up at 8am on a Saturday morning, still rubbing the sleep from our eyes, and be told quite cheerfully that this was going to be like Cross Fit, but with the added challenge of trying to do it standing on a wobbly board.

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