Even in landlocked Utah, stand-up paddle boarding rides a wave of popularity
In the 1960s, the boys of Hawaii's Waikiki beaches would stand up on their boards to teach tourists how to surf.
The skill, once called "beach boy surfing," is now one of the fastest-growing water sports in the nation.
Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP for short, calls for balancing on a large board and moving across the water with the help of a long-handled paddle.
It's no wonder personal trainers are adding this activity, which works legs, arms and abdominal muscles, to their workout regimen. Celebrities including BeyoncÃ© and Sean Penn have been seen paddle boarding on the California coast and Hawaiian beaches.
Trent Hickman, a personal trainer and owner of Park City Stand Up Paddle Boarding, can't think of a better activity to improve fitness.
"You've got a balance component, a strength component and a cardiovascular component, and you're out in nature," he said. "It's got everything going for it from the health perspective and it's fun."
Many paddle boarders are just as passionate about the relaxation that comes from being on the water.
"It's magical, says Helen Feltovich, an emergency obstetrician from Park City. "You feel like you're walking on water."
Contrary to what most people think, you don't need an ocean or a wave to practice stand-up paddle boarding. SUP has been done everywhere from whitewater rapids to lakes. As a paddle-board racer, Hickman has traveled from Maui to Lake Powell and says "Jordanelle is one of the prettier places I have ever paddled." Rockport Reservoir is another popular place for Utahns to practice the sport.
The growth of the sport has been especially visible at the Outdoor Retailer show that comes to Salt Lake City each spring and fall, said spokeswoman Maura Lansford. In 2005, the event had only one SUP exhibitor. By 2012, there were more than 35 manufacturers of SUP goods, and that's not including hundreds of exhibitors that manufacture SUP-related accessories, she said.
This summer, Pau Hana, one of the leading paddle-board suppliers in the world, is sponsoring the Park City Stand up Paddleboarding Cup, a series of three races for elite and amateur athletes. The first event was June 16 at Jordanelle. Subsequent races will be Aug. 11 and Sept. 8. (See box for details.)
For those interested in trying the sport, Park City Stand Up Paddle Boarding offers a two-hour lesson at Jordanelle for $100. The price includes equipment rental, refreshments and photos. The company also offers fitness classes, yoga on the paddle board and race training.
During a recent trip to Park City, Florida resident Lynda Hale took her children for a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson at Jordanelle. It was the perfect family activity, said the mother of five children ages 11 to 18.
"Everybody had a happy face," she said, "which is what you want when you have a lot of children."
Spend the day watching or participating in paddle-board racing. Events are open to all ages and levels. There also will be coed tandem races.
When • Aug. 11 and Sept. 8
Where • Jordanelle Reservoir
Info • http://www.pcsupcup.com