In an ideal world, we would all have a boat. We’d wakeboard, tube and ski whenever we wanted. Unfortunately we can’t all be that lucky. Boat-owning friends are a temporary solution, but showing up on their docks uninvited only works so many times. Thus began my search for an alternative way to get my water fix.
In Michigan, we’re lacking gnarly waves for surfing, wild rapids for rafting and sunken ships for scuba diving. So what’s a water-loving girl to do?
Thumbing through entertainment magazines, I’d seen countless pictures of celebrities paddleboarding and was curious to find out what all the hype was about. However, it wasn’t until I met Brandon Gugala one day in downtown Walled Lake, that I got the low-down on the paddleboarding scene.
Brandon is the owner of That’s wasSUP, the stand up paddleboarding company in downtown Walled Lake responsible for all those boards I had been seeing out on the water. That’s wasSUP (SUP being an acronym for stand up paddle boarding), offers lessons on how to paddle board, group events, private lessons, sunset paddles and they are the only company in the area that will actually let you rent the boards and take them out on your own. Before you can take a board out solo, you’ve got to take a lesson to get the hang of things. Anxious to try it out, I signed up for a lesson so I could learn some new skills.
I have to admit, the thought of balancing on a floating board was a bit intimidating since standing on my own two feet can sometimes be a challenge. Thankfully, it turned out to be really easy. And fun! Plus, it is a killer workout. At first it seems a bit unsteady, but after a bit you relax and feel more stable on the board. It may sound cheesy but you start to connect with the water beneath you and stop focusing on balance. After a few minutes on the board, I felt pretty comfortable, so we moved out to explore the lake.
The sun was setting, the water was calm and the slight breeze was perfect as we paddled across the lake. The whole experience was incredibly peaceful. You are able to experience the water from such a unique perspective. As Brandon describes it, “when you’re out there and it’s a peaceful day, you see everything. You see the fish, the turtles… it’s pretty chill”. Pretty chill is right. I am definitely hooked on paddle boarding. It has got to be one of the best ways, sans boat, to enjoy the water and get a workout while you are doing it.
Exercise is actually a big reason Brandon started That’s WasSUP. Paddleboarding was the perfect outdoor extension of his fitness studio, Function of Fitness, also located in downtown Walled Lake. Stand up paddleboarding offers a great way to get his clients outdoors in the summer and still incorporate a workout. He even has some people do yoga and Pilates while on the boards for an added workout.
Whether you are looking for a workout or just want to have some fun while working on your tan, you really need to give stand up paddle boarding a try. It’s not a boat… but it might be the next best thing.
For more information about That’s wasSUP go to www.facebook.com/ThatswasSUPGreatLakes