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An Alternative Take On Balance and Stability (part 2)

Part 1 of this two part series was a prequel on balance and stability. In part 1, I introduced some ideas and perceptions around balance, moderation, and how to relate and apply this conecpt to food, diet and eating.

Part 2 is a continuation of this but in a different context. What I might consider the most important and really the main reason why I wrote both parts 1 and 2 of this blog has to do with what I’ve learned about balance and stability through taking up SUP (stand up paddle boarding) and being on the water.

Before you stop reading this because you don't stand up paddle board, haven't tried it before, or are uninterested in SUP just wait...

What I have learned and gained on the water has transferred to land and various other aspects of my life...

See SUP involves you to stand atop a Paddle Board and maneuver yourself over bodies of water. Paddle boards are of varying widths and lengths which affects how much we have to work to stay upright and not all in the water.

Recreational and beginner boards tend to be extremely wide, and thereby very stable, while you’re floating on the water. A race SUP board is much narrower, and longer, which increases speed and ease of getting from one point to the other. The trade off of being a less stable and more imbalanced surface.

Here’s the thing, and what I’ve learned through developing my balance on a paddle board versus on land or other areas of my life (and which comes full circle to apply to land and life) …

The water and what’s beneath you is always fluid and moving.

The idea of balance and feeling stable that most people believe in (i.e. rigid, immobile, stagnant, "in balance") is anything but this.

Rather, being in balance and stable on a paddle board IS about being fluid with the water, being able to respond, adapt and adjust to the waters' constant movement and oftentimes correct at a moment's notice.

Paddle boarding requires awareness (body and spatial), speed agility and reactivity training. It necessitates being present and mindful.

The most common sort of statements I hear from new or novice to even intermediate paddlers is that they don’t feel stable like they do on land, and that because of this they become nervous, intimidated and are uninterested or less willing to take up and try to SUP.

When I run my Paddle Fused Fitness classes (a sup fitness class I created) and certify my PFF Coaches I explain that chances are you wont quite feel like you are on land, and actually I do NOT want you to feel like you are on land. If I wanted you to I would simply run these classes on land versus over the water.

Learning to stand and maneuver yourself on a paddle board, race SUP, as well as balance board and slackline is unique as you do not have the sort of stable surface beneath you as you would a balance beam, balance disc, or single leg exercise. Think of stepping on a loose rug, puddle of water atop smooth surface or patch of ice. One wrong move and your feet are flying out from beneath you leaving you down for the count.

No we don’t want these circumstances to occur, but reality is, slips and falls account for far more injuries and for elderly individuals are one of the most common causes of diminished health that leads to death.

We can do so much to protect and train our bodies to respond and react better to these sort of circumstances. Stand up paddle boarding is one such way.

What’s I’ve learned through SUP, is that I will be always need to adapt and adjust and respond. That I must be present and conscious, mindful of both my surroundings and my body as it is in space. By fighting the wakes and waves, locking my limbs and being rigid in nature I put myself and greater risk of losing my balance and falling off. When instead I allow my body to move with the water and go with the flow I can better remain balanced and stop my board.

SUP is ultimately a practice in mindfulness, awareness and being present. It’s also one in responsiveness, resilience and resourcefulness. Each of which can be applied to numerous areas of our lives.

All of which can be practiced, developed, trained and improved for our growth and development.

As gymnastics taught me skills - like discipline, focus, consistency, work ethic…which i have carried into other areas of my life; stand up paddle boarding, taking up racing SUP and SUP surfing, and challenging myself on unstable boards and other surfaces has taught me numerous skills different and similar as well.

Seek to create and cultivate balance and stability in all areas of your life:

  • On land

  • On water

  • In the gym

  • In the kitchen

  • In life

Come on out and SUP with me this summer at Stand and Paddle. I will help you develop your balance on the water so you can transform your life.


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