Here’s a little known fact about me: I have a Californian alter-ego. She’s toned, tan, and hits the surf every morning before BBQing fresh papaya for breakfast. Granted, she only exists in my imagination when I fantasise about emigrating to CA on my morning commute from Finsbury Park. But still, she’s pretty damn cool.
Anyways, I made an important discovery recently. Turns out I can emulate her life (sort of) in the heart of London. The kind folks at Surfdome invited me to try Stand Up Paddle Board (a.k.a SUP, a.k.a the fitness craze of the summer) at WakeUp Docklands – a wakeboarding and SUP centre in London’s docklands, complete with cool surf shack caf. Who knew this existed? And why didn’t they tell me? I could’ve been emulating all this time.
So I found myself at 7am (after a 5.30am start. No one said kidding yourself you’re a cool surf chick was easy) pulling on a wetsuit in the centre of London. Surreal. Then our instructor, the super chilled Jason Bergin, taught us the basics before we “set sail” (undoubtedly, this is not the correct lingo. Cover blown).
For the uninitiated (read: so behind the times), SUP involves standing on a board and using a long handled paddle to ferry yourself around. It promises to work your core, arms and thighs. And everyone claims it’s easy to master. I’ve been fooled by this line before though. For the record, mushroom risotto, the boardgame Risk, and playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the guitar are not easy to master. And don’t get me started on actual surfing, which is the single, hardest activity IN THE WORLD, despite how easy everyone – including my alter-ego – make it look.
But here’s the thing, it turns out SUP is actually easy. Our group were all standing within a few minutes and no one fell off. At all. Not once. It’s a very serene way to spend an hour before work. And by the end I could definitely feel it in my legs and feet where I’d been holding strong to avoid unbalancing and plummeting into the water (which, however, I must note was very clean and complete with little fishies).
There are ways to ramp up the difficulty rating – doing it in actual waves, complicated turning techniques, doing yoga on the board, blah blah – but just scooping yourself forwards and backwards is a cinch, offering the best (posing opportunity) returns for (effort) investment I’ve ever come across. Check me out doing this entirely accidental ‘Timotei flick’…
SUP is quickly building a serious following – it’s the fastest growning board sport in America. In the UK you can do it in everywhere from Devon to Scotland as well as London. And now some forward-thinking folks have combined it with the fastest growing activity in the UK – triathlon – to create the UK’s first #SUPbikerun event sponsored by Surfdome. Essentially, they’ve twisted a normal triathlon, swapping the swimming for SUPing and taking the cycling off road. Set to be the cool kids’ fitness challenge of choice, the inaugural event is on September 21st in Chichester and you can snap up your spot here: surfdome.com/supbikerun, giving you exactly 37 days to perfect your technique. Or make like me and send your alter ego.
FYI: Surdome currently has a pop-up at Old Street underground station, where you can shop and get involved with surf-related activites and events. It closes on Aug 28th so get on down there dudes.
VITALS: surfdome.com, @Surfdome; wakeupdocklands.com, @wakeupdocklands; @URBAN_RECOVERY