SUP is up! Stand-Up Paddle-Boarding for Fitness

SUP or stand up paddle boarding has been all the rage for the last few summers now. We are seeing SUP rental vans at most beaches, lakes, and vacation resorts. SUP yoga and SUP race events are taking off like crazy around the world. Costco is selling more and more SUP boards each season and carrying more variety. That sure tells you something!

There are some good reasons why SUP is so popular and why people are seeing results.

  • It’s fun! Who doesn’t like to get out on the water and play? You will be having so much fun you may not realize at first what a great workout it can be. And when you have fun working out, you are going to see results in your fitness levels since you will stick with it.
  • SUP works your core and balance. Both are critical for us to work on as we have more and more birthdays beyond the big 5-0
  • Unlike kayaks and canoes, SUP gives you a great vantage point and freedom and flexibility. Surprisingly, you are able to see more underwater life when a bit higher up on the board than right down at water level
  • SUP works your core, shoulders, and serratus anterior, lats, and triceps.
  • You can do SUP yoga and take your yoga experience to a whole new level.
  • You face your fears. The risk of falling and pushing yourself to the limit teaches you to take on challenges in life.
  • The SUP community is pretty cool and you will meet people who will encourage you, make you laugh, and teach you things you have never tried before.

Check out this site for some great tips on building a solid SIP foundation and doing it right. You will be glad you did and feel more stable. Let us know some of your SUP experiences and successes…and even some of your fabulous falls, as well!

Featured photo source:

Open Water Swimming

Triathlons and mini tri’s have been growing in popularity for quite a few years, now. This means more and more people are turning to open water swimming in the warmer months, some die-hards even keep it up year round in some climates. You don’t have to train for a tri to like open water swimming, in fact many of the dedicated swimmers you will encounter are in it just for the swim!

What do you need to consider before starting? Here are the basics on the gear:

  • A well fitted wet suit. Many people prefer a “shortie”, but it is all about personal preference and where you live. If you are in more northern climates and hope to swim as far as possible into the fall, then a full wet suit is likely a better choice for you
  • Invest in a good pair (or two) and although it may seem obvious, but they shouldn’t leak. Buy an extra strap to keep in your workout bag for that guaranteed day when your strap breaks as you are all suited up and ready to hit the waves.
  • Consider wearing two swim caps if you tend to lose your heat through your head and also if you live in northern climates.

Things to keep in mind for your first open water swim race:

  • It will feel a bit scary. All those people certainly LOOK more confident than you feel and they will all be racing against YOU! And they are also feeling a bit scared just like you so dive in and go for it!
  • That said…stay calm. Panicking while surrounded by tons of arms and legs thrashing for the same finish line is not in your best interests. Take some deep breaths (duhhh) and do some self-talking to keep yourself focused.
  • If you feel really anxious consider starting at the back of the pack and get a feel for it.
  • Know your course and stay aware of where you are so that you only need to look up to verify your location as often as really needed.

Most of all, have fun and give yourself some well-deserved pats on the back for stepping up to the challenge and conquering those waves!

Featured photo source:

Kayaking For Fun Outdoor Fitness

Summer time is a fabulous time to try some of those new outdoor activities that you have always thought about but never seem to get around to it. Kayaking is a great one because it requires very little skill or previous experience in order to experience immediate success! It is wonderful getting out on the water and keeping cool on these hot days.

Kayaking is also a great sport for just about anyone to start since most towns or cities with lakes or rivers nearby have kayak rental facilities to start off with before you invest in a kayak of your own.

Kayaks are a very lightweight watercraft, usually made of molded plastic or fiberglass. They generally turn and maneuver much faster than canoes and are also easier to get in and out of. The best kayaks for beginners are the sit on top model due to their stability and durability. When you rent a kayak, pay attention to the different types and try a few before you decide to purchase one.

There are different classes of kayaks such as white water kayaks, ocean kayaks, hybrid kayaks, surf kayaks, touring kayaks, and sit-on-top recreational kayaks. Check out this article for more detailed descriptions of the different types and to help you decide the direction you may want to go.

Kayak paddles differ from canoe paddles in that they are double bladed, one on either end of the paddle. This increases the speed at which you can stroke. The wider the blades, the more power and acceleration. Narrow blades are easier to stroke, but provide less resistance and require more strokes to get the same force and speed.

Regardless of what type of kayak or paddles you choose, it is imperative to have the proper safety gear such as a personal floatation device, even if you are paddling in quiet, calm waters of a small lake. If you do whitewater kayaking, you will need a helmet, as well.

If you have never kayaked, consider finding an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor to get you started off with the right technique. A good quality instructor will also pass along some great tips and help you to determine other gear that can keep you more comfortable such as spray skirts and dry bags.

Make sure your first time kayaking is a calm day with good water conditions. You may feel unstable at first and battling wind and rain will not improve your chances of enjoying the sport. When you first start paddling, you may find yourself having a hard time paddling in a straight line until you get a feel for the pull of the blades and good turning technique.

Don’t let all the gear possibilities and options out there overwhelm you, just get out in the boat and try it and enjoy the new experience and peace on the water during these lovely summer days and evenings. Once you have a few paddles under your belt, you will have a better idea of what type of kayaking and gear is right for you.

Do you have some kayaking stories to share? Or preferred gear that you recommend? We would love to hear from you!

Happy paddling!

Featured photo source:

Stay Cool and Fit This Summer with These Fun Activities

By Janet Luhrs,

What? You’re 50 or over and you think playing outside in the summer is for kids?

Never mind!  As you’ve noticed reading this blog, my mission in life is to inspire you to move that beautiful body of yours – and to find pleasure doing so. Especially during the oh-so-sweet months of summer, there are loads of things you can do that provide great exercise and a wonderful time.

Granted, I’m probably asking you to push yourself out of your comfort zone by trying some of my ideas below – but then again – that’s why you’re reading this blog – to get pushed just a little.

So even for the most die-hard of couch potatoes, read through this list and see if you can find at least one activity to try. And then write to me and tell me how it was. My guess is you’ll feel so proud and happy that you got outside and tried something new and fun.

  • Stand up Paddle boarding or SUP: We have to start out this post with a shout for SUP, one of the hottest new workout trends in the last few years. SUP started as an off shoot of surfing when it made it possible for surfers to paddle farther out to catch those great waves. There are SUP yoga classes, moonlight paddle board events, paddle board races. Whether you choose to kneel and paddle or stand, it is a great workout for many major muscle groups and especially so when you practice your SUP yoga
  • Kayaking: Kayaking is a wonderful workout for shoulders, back and abs as you really dig in. Focus on good technique and some of these tips here and you can make it as much of a cardio challenge as you like by paddling in long spurts.
  • Tubing: Even though the boat seems to be doing all the work, holding onto that tube really works your back, shoulders, and abs. Make yourself swim out to the boat to start and do the same on your way back and you’ll really have a great workout!
  • Full Body Water Aerobics: People tend to associate this with older seniors who have fewer fitness options. Even though this is great for those with joint issues, this deep water workout is not for the faint of heart and really gets your heart pumping with a whole body challenge.
  • River Float: While river floating doesn’t exactly conjure up images of hard cardio and strength training, it certainly burns more calories than sitting home.  And if you find a good launching place that has a trail along the river, you can float down, then walk back up and get in your workout that way!  Or just consider the whole day your reward for working hard the other days of the week  😉
  • Water Skiing or Wakeboarding: either one is a great all body workout from your shoulders, back, core, and legs. Definitely some cardio involved as well! And just as with tubing, a swim out to the boat and back is in order to make it a full workout.
  • Scuba Diving: Ok, this one is not something to just pick up one random weekend, but if you have been curious or have a vacation to tropical places coming up, consider getting certified. Many dive shops sponsor PADI certified courses that can be done in as little as a week with a weekend of concentrated open dives. Once you have experienced the undersea world, you will wonder why you had not tried it sooner!

Regardless of which warm weather water workouts you try this summer, don’t neglect to warm up and stretch, especially your back and shoulders for the activities listed that really challenge those areas. No one wants a pulled back at the end of a good skiing run! And of course use your sunscreen!

Featured photo source:

Winter Swimming Workouts

You may just find yourself this time of the year dreaming of white sandy beaches and warm water to sooth your soul, make it happen this winter and hit the pool for some of your workouts. Not only can pool workouts help you take a mini-vacation, there is something that touches most of us when we experience water that is healing and relieves stress. Pool workouts have a peaceful element to them with just you and the water and the rhythm. Also, switching up your workout routine and changing what you normally do for cardio can give your workouts the charge they just may need. Swimming is a great metabolism booster while sculpting your muscles at the same time. And who knows, you may just get addicted to the water and never get out!

Gear needed:

  • Kickboard
  • Fins
  • Watch or clock with a second hand


The basics to know:

  • Start at the start with the basic crawl stroke, getting to the point where you can swim at least 100 yards without stopping. It may be tough at first, but you will be surprised at how quickly you will catch on
  • Test out your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) on a scale of 1-10 so you know approximately what your rates are.
  • Learn to do a few laps for warm up at the start of each workout. Rotate through the basic strokes: free style, breast stroke, and back stroke.

For workouts try the following to get yourself started:

  • 100 yd. Warm up, RPE 3
  • 50 yd. side flutter kick on kickboard , RPE 3

Make sure to kick from your hips, not your knees, keep looking up and knees and side of head in the water

  • 50 yds. front flutter kick with kickboard, RPE 4, breathing alternately to both sides
  • 5 x 50 yds. swim (no board) at RPE 7 for continuous laps, be=breathing every 3 strokes. Rest at the wall if you need to, but try to keep that as short of an interval as possible
  • 2 x 50 yds. swim easy RPE to recover.
  • 100 yds. swim at moderate intensity, RPE 6
  • 100 yds. cool down, RPE 3

Once the above workout is starting to feel less of a challenge, congratulate yourself and move onto some variety and intermediate to advanced workouts. My Daily Swim is a great resource jam-packed with tips and workout ideas. Let us know how your water workouts are going and please share with us all what you do in the pool to challenge yourself and get fit.

Featured photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Aqua Aerobics: How To Start, and The Benefits

My Dad, of all people, asked me the other week about water workouts. He’s never been a big one for the pool, and for years was an active walker. Then his knees started bothering him, and one of his walking buddies raved about the gentleness of working out in the water. Dad asked me why I was so hooked on aqua aerobics, and here’s what I told him:

It’s easy to start. “Dad, it’s not that complicated – you don’t have to go get geared up to have a great water workout.” He wanted details, so I told him that if he wanted to continue something similar to his walking, aqua jogging was a great place to start in the water. He could just head to the pool when the lap lanes were open, and start walking up and down at a brisk pace. It would be a great and gentle workout routine.

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Try a class. If he wanted to try something else, he could throw in an aqua aerobics workout class, where the instructor would lead the people through some great cardio, leg and upper body work. I gave him some great sites with more information about aqua aerobics workouts. Even though he’s getting older now, he’s on top of the internet, and loves research, so I knew he would read everything I gave him.

It has more exotic options. I know my Dad has wanted to reduce stress in his life, so I suggested he could also try an aqua tai chi class, or yoga in the water. I go to those aqua aerobics classes when I need a good stretch, or when I’ve had a stressful day, and want to unwind. Dad has been so busy and active, I thought he would like those options, and they are very gentle exercises. He could also try water paddling, where he holds on to the side of the pool, and then kicks his legs to get the workout. I know Dad isn’t much into swimming, but he would like working out his legs with this exercise. There are also weight workouts which can be done in the water, and classes where you can learn how to do a great weight routine in the water, using small weights, or just the water itself.

There are wonderful benefits. Dad had not worked out for a while, because of his knees, so I knew he would like the gentleness of a water workout. Water provides great buoyancy, which means that the person’s body is held up by the water, and makes them feel lighter in the water. That will mean less chance of injury for him, and less joint pain after the workout. Now that Dad is a bit older, he has to factor in those benefits and be more mindful of taking it easy on his body. The other great benefit of water workouts is resistance, since it takes more effort to move through the water, providing the work. Compared to lifting weights in the gym, a water workout is very gentle, and that’s why people like it so much.

Helps with ailments. It has been proven that just 30 minutes of a water workout can bring the blood sugar level into normal range, which is good news for those with diabetes. Aqua aerobics can also provide benefits by increasing metabolism, slowing down age related loss of muscles mass and reaction time, and lead to an overall better sense of well being.

I went by to see Dad this week, after he had tried his first aqua aerobics class. “How was it, Dad?” His big smile told me all I needed to know!