Yes, the rumors are true: I’m now a ‘Paddle Diva.’ Yesterday, I checked stand up paddle boarding off of my summer bucket list! Although it was my first time trying “SUP,” it definitely won’t be my last. Upon arriving at Paddle Diva, (located at Shagwong Harbor on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton) I was greeted by one of Gina’s regulars, Kate, who explained that she tried SUP two years ago and has been addicted ever since. After an hour on the water, I completely understand what all the fuss is about; I think I may have caught the SUP bug myself! (The perfect temperature, calm waters, and warm sunshine probably didn’t hurt either.)
Our group included Gina, Kate, and three first timers (an adorable local couple celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary, and me.) It was great to have a small group, we all got the hang of it pretty quickly and were able to stay close and chat when we wanted and spread out a bit and enjoy the solitude as well. This is definitely a flexible and all-inclusive sport, as it can be social or allows for some good alone time on the open water. And, it’s pretty doable for anyone, of any age. Although her focus is empowering women on the board, Gina teaches everyone from kids to older adults in the most non-intimidating way. If I can do it, you can do it.
Gina is a water diva in the most down-to-earth meaning of the words. She’s awesome, all about women in paddle boarding and making it happen daily. Gina keeps in tip top shape paddling, mountain biking, and running outside, all year long. She started Paddle Diva in 2009, knowing that SUP was going to catch on like fire, and wanted to serve women in the community accordingly. She invented the DIVA board to better accommodate women for the sport. Gina is truly one with her board. And everyday is clearly an adventure for her. Our noontime paddle wasn’t just another lesson for Gina, as she takes each and every opportunity to get to know the individuals she paddles with and what they do in life. She bonds easily with people and her exuberance for life is contagious.
In addition to getting to know Gina and being able to check something off my summer bucket list, I definitely felt the paddle burn! As I sit down at my computer to write this article, I can feel some serious soreness coming on through my arms and upper back. SUP is a great workout, it’s as challenging as you make it. While paddling, I could feel every stroke in my arms and abs. Regular paddle boarders develop strong core and arm muscles and benefit from improved body alignment and balance, prevention of back pain, and easing the overall aging process. The exercise can be as intense or relaxing as each paddler chooses, slow strokes allow for a leisure ride while a more aggressive pace clearly picks things up. SUP racing has become a popular sport – now that would be intense!
SUP is really a full body workout, good for the body, good for the mind. It’s also a unique way to get to know the Hamptons from a whole different perspective, looking from the water in, rather than from the land out! Gina offers a variety of classes, from SUP yoga at her ‘floating yoga studio,’ to mini fun race events, private and group lessons. I’d highly suggest getting on the board!
One Healthy Breakdown: I’m hooked on SUP. Proud to be a Paddle Diva.