Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Can I SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)?

Every week, I get asked once or twice how hard it is to SUP (stand up paddleboard) and could someone [not too agile, older, a little overweight, with back problems . . . fill in the blank] do it? Over and over I hear how all the ads and social media postings show young and super-fit people doing things like yoga and headstands on their boards.

The short answer is that almost anyone can have fun on a paddleboard. You don’t have to be capable of wild acrobatics or even be particularly agile or athletic. And a bikini body is not a prerequisite.

I’m not trying to say that everyone should paddleboard — only you know if it looks like something fun to you — but I want to change the image of who are SUP-er people.

Last weekend, I asked TBG readers to post pictures on TBG’s Facebook page to show that all sorts of people paddleboard. I’ve collected them here, along with photos I’ve taken of teaching friends and neighbors.

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

That’s me in the photos above. I’m 54 and not exactly skinny. I’ve had back problems over the years and a badly sprained ankle, broken wrist and severely injured knee in the past few years. I paddleboard 3 or 4 days a week, typically for a half hour to an hour at a time. It’s definitely helping my recovery.Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Dave, my husband, is 76 and he’s the first to admit that his balance isn’t what it once was (not horrible, just not what it used to be). When he first began SUP-ing, he mostly paddled kneeling as the board is much more stable that way.  It’s a good technique if you’re a little uncertain about standing and for anyone when waves or jet ski wakes threaten! Even kneeling, you’ll improve your balance – an important skill for everyone as we get older and boaters in particular. Better balance = fewer falls = fewer broken bones, especially hips!

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

That’s him in the photos above, feeling much more confident about standing on the board after a few weeks. He’s more sure-footed getting in and out of the dinghy, too.

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Marleen (above) also learned by kneeling at first then graduating to standing.

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Above, the Burleson family with their brand-new board – literally, the day they got it. Kids are 8 and 11; parents Cari and Darren are both 44. Quote: “It’s awesome!”

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

When Dave and I went to the Virgin Islands to spend time with Denis and LaDonna aboard Beagle Knot, we took our board and they both tried it out. Denis actually managed to stand up and surf in one day at the beach; the rest of us stuck to kneeling when we hit the surf line. A few weeks later, they’d bought their own boards.

Cocktail hour with Estelle Cockcroft, the CatamaranGuru:

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

A few more photos that readers posted on Facebook:

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

Wonder if you're crazy to think about getting a paddleboarding . . . or even trying one? The ads all seem to show young, super-athletic people . . . but the reality is that almost anyone can do it. Photos from TBG readers!

One reader also asked why people liked SUPing so much – was it the great workout or what? Here’s my reply (I’m not trying to convert anyone into an SUP-er who doesn’t want to be, but I’ve had so many questions from people who have seen them in anchorages and wanted to know more):

Several things for me — first, I love the idea of kayaking and exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies, but I find the reality of kayaking to be just about the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever tried. My back just kills within minutes. SUP-ing is very comfortable for me, in contrast. Second, yes, it’s a good workout for lower body, core and upper body. If you go fast, cardio too. Third, it really improves balance . . . and that’s something almost everyone needs, particularly as we get older. If you don’t fall, you don’t break bones . . . especially hips. Obviously, for us boaters, balance is important there too. Fourth — I love the view standing on the water! And if the water is clear, you can see all the fish and other critters.

I’ve written a number of articles about SUP-ing because I had a hard time finding some of the info I was looking for. If you want to know more, here’s the “main” article I wrote about it.

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13 Comments
  • Kristen Posey Mead
    Posted at 01 August 2014 Reply

    Thanks for posting this!

  • Kristen Posey Mead
    Posted at 01 August 2014 Reply

    Thank you for posting this!

  • Estelle Cockcroft
    Posted at 01 August 2014 Reply

    We had other uses for my SUP! Cocktail hour with friends.

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    Got me convinced – I want to try it

  • Paula Kennedy Strickland
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    Great way to take fur babies to shore as well!

  • Janae King
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    We’re a family of 4 SUPers (with a SUP pup!) and it’s a great hobby for anyone!

  • Lora Laffan
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    Got one last summer, took it with us and loved taking in coves and to beaches while anchored! And had only gone couple times before!

  • Rodney
    Posted at 18 July 2017 Reply

    Great topic. I purchased a 12’6″ Red Paddle Sport board last year and have yet to stand up. I am a 55 year-old 5’8″ male but I have let myself go weight-wise- at 212#. I started a program last month and am losing but have a way to go! My inflatable board is rated up to 300# and 30″ wide. It is just so squirrely in the water. Getting back on after a fall is nearly impossible. I’ve been around water and boats and skiing all my life but paddle boarding is different. When I try to side mount from the water the whole board is so light it just goes up on the side (with me kicking up) I have yet to try rear mounting. I love water activities but cannot get too far on an iSUP yet!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 July 2017 Reply

      Two suggestions for you — paddle from your knees for a few weeks or even longer. No one says you have to stand up, and it’s a great way to train your body and muscles for the balance. Second, definitely try the rear mount if you fall — Dave and I both find it MUCH easier!

    • Jennifer Gertley
      Posted at 22 July 2017 Reply

      I am just learning and I had the same problem – I could NOT get back on my paddleboard. It was very discouraging. Tried from the side and from the back. Just didn’t have the strength. Then I found a video on youtube titled “How to get back on paddleboard for fat people”. He tied a line with knots from the center to the stern of the paddle board and added footloops hanging down. It worked like a charm and I can easily get back on my paddleboard now. Now I have confidence to continue on!

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