“Gliding over the water on the SUP – an amazing feeling”
Whenever the weather turns nice, stand-up paddlers invariably head for the lakes in Switzerland. But what is it that makes this trendy new sport so attractive? We asked Valérie Gardel, the owner of love-sup, and Maurus Strobel, the manager of Indiana SUP.
What is stand-up paddling?
Valérie: Stand-up paddling – or SUP – is a water sport that involves standing on a board and paddling across the water – a truly amazing feeling.
Maurus: I couldn’t have said it better. SUP is currently changing from a trend sport into a full-fledged leisure movement. There are many people who enjoy stand-up paddling simply because it does them good, is easy to learn and can be done in many places.
Does this mean that anyone can become a stand-up paddler?
M: The initial hurdle for stand-up paddling is very small and there’s almost no age limit. As soon as children can swim, they can also climb onto a stand-up board, hold a paddle and learn to move around. There are also no limits on the upper end of the age spectrum, because stand-up paddling is for anyone who is confident on their feet and enjoys the water. It’s simply a matter of adjusting your paddle speed to the intensity you want. Furthermore, it’s very easy on your body because there’s no impact.
V: I have also a lot of elderly people who signed up for a stand-up paddling course and are having a lot of fun. SUP is great especially for elder people because it gives you a full-body workout, develops a better sense of balance and strengthens almost the entire musculature.
In recent years, SUP has developed into a trend sport in Switzerland. Where does it come from originally?
M: Stand-up paddling is actually an ancient means of transport. Our ancestors did stand-up paddling in different regions around the world ages ago, especially in the coastal areas. They stood on straw boats to fish and used bamboo poles to move forwards. But SUP was invented as a sport in Hawaii only shortly after 2000, when surfing and water sport instructors began to teach their students by standing on a board and using a paddle to move around. This helped them to get to their students more quickly and gave them a better overview. They also noticed that they ended up training their body differently as a result, because stand-up paddling uses all the muscles – from the tips of the toes all the way to the neck.
It seems that SUP puts plenty of demands on the body, especially when it comes to keeping your balance. What are the main advantages in terms of the training effect?
M: A big advantage is that you train very symmetrically. Daily life often involves asymmetrical activities, for example when talking on the phone, working in the office, or doing many types of ball sports. With SUP, however, you use both sides of your body evenly because you alternate the paddle. Another positive point is that the movement doesn’t primarily originate from the arms but from your torso. This strengthens the stabilising muscles in the stomach and the back, something that will pay off when you do other types of sport or things that involve lots of sitting.
When I think of stand-up paddling, I think of it as a calm and leisurely sport. Is there also a version for action fans?
V: Definitely. You can do just about anything on a stand-up board. Freestyle SUP has lots of action that involves tricks, such as 180ies or 360ies. Other exciting options are doing yoga on the board, or playing SUP polo.
M: That’s right. It’s also a great alternative to jogging, cycling or cross-country skiing. On a race board, you can reach 10 kilometres an hour at a high intensity, a pretty good cardiovascular workout.
What would be my best option if I want to get started right away?
V: There are are several SUP centres that offer introductory courses. Lakes are the best places for beginners. We recommend that you take an introduction course so that you learn the right technique. That will make things a lot more fun. After that you can try different boards and types of stand-up paddling until you have found what’s best for you.
M: It’s also important that you know the rules that apply on the water, and you’ll learn all about them when taking a course. For those who are interested, I always recommend first trying different boards, getting good advice, and then buying a suitable board of good quality.
Can I go paddling also in the autumn and winter or is it only a summer sport?
M: It’s definitely not only for summer. You can go paddling on any day of the year, except of course when the water is frozen. Going out in the cold can be a lot of fun if you have the right equipment. It’s also great in winter because the water is often very calm.
V: That’s right. When you go out on the lake in the off-season you will often have the lake to yourself, with the fog creating a mystic atmosphere.
About Valérie Gardel from love-sup Valérie Gardel founded love-sup in 2015 with the aim of promoting SUP and water sports and increasing the knowledge about SUP. She has been teaching SUP courses in Richterswil since 2013, and recently also in Wädenswil at the Indiana SUP centre. She offers a broad range of courses that are suitable for beginners all the way to advanced paddlers. There are also individual coaching sessions, team events, SUP fitness courses, SUP yoga & pilates, SUP meditation and SUP ceremonies. For more information visit: love-sup
About Maurus Strobel, Indiana SUP Maurus Strobel is the former slalom skateboard world and European champion and a stand-up paddling enthusiast. He manages the Swiss brand “Indiana SUP”, founded in 2010, whose skateboard roots date back some 30 years. Indiana SUP is a team of water sports aficionados who sell and rent boards, paddles and accessories around the world. For more information visit: Indiana SUP