I had never tried paddleboarding before, but like many, I was curious about the fast-growing water sport and wanted to give it a try.
So last week, I signed up for a lesson. I was excited, but I had one reservation: The class was going to take place on the Hudson River in New York City. Naturally, the first thought that entered my mind was, "What's in this water?"
After some mildly extensive research, I sucked it up and got on board.
When we arrived at Liberty State Park, my first question to our friendly instructors from REI was, “Am I going to fall in?”
“Yes,” summarizes their response. We should be prepared to fall in. “I do yoga,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I stand a chance.”
Spoiler alert: I came out dry. But that wasn't the only reason I liked it — I actually enjoyed it so much that halfway into our journey, I caught myself thinking, “I'd fall into the Hudson for this.”
Anyone can try it. I went out with a group of about ten women of different age ranges. We all successfully stood up on our boards and paddled a quarter mile or so, but for the less adventurous, you can sit or kneel on your board — you'll still have fun.
For newbies, introductory classes are great because they provide you with safety instructions, equipment and beginner techniques.
It gives you a perspective like no other. Standing on the board, you can see the creatures below you (which I tried to avoid) as well as beautiful landscapes and horizons. You can paddle any kind of water, from the ocean surf to lakes and city waters.
While I initially wished my paddleboarding assignment was at a Caribbean Island, I landed at the Statue of Liberty with downtown Manhattan on one side of me and Brooklyn on the other. I'd take that view over a pina colada any day. Just be careful not to get carried away taking pictures — one woman in our class dropped her iPhone into the deep waters below!
It's a surreal experience. Paddleboarding is the closest thing you can get to walking on water, and it feels as cool as it sounds.
Not to mention, it’s fun! Whether you're paddling around a bay or to the Statue of Liberty like we were, it's a unique way to experience the outdoors. Once you get comfortable on your board, you can play around in the water as well. We even practiced some yoga!
It’s a full body workout: The fact that I was getting a full body, cross-training workout while paddleboarding was just an added bonus.
Final Verdict: Whether it's the workout, the view or the overall experience, everyone can find something to love about this unique water sport — even those, like me, who don't enjoy jumping in cold, murky water. And companies such as REI now offer sunset paddleboarding cruises as well. Date night? Sign me up!
Have you tried paddleboarding? Tell us what you think!