There’s no denying the incredible growth of stand up paddle boarding over the last decade. No longer is it considered a niche sport or novelty that one might try at a Mexican beach resort. Paddle boarding has exploded into the mainstream and has become something that has become accessible for almost every age, budget, and place of residence. So how did we get here and where do we see the sport going in the future? Let’s take a look at how SUP has evolved over the years.
One of the greatest reasons owed to SUP’s success is the continuous innovation of design and materials. Not too long ago we were limited to expensive, hard-foam epoxy-wrapped boards that were not only a challenge to transport but also a challenge to store. These factors were big barriers to entry for a lot of the population.
Inflatable boards have been around for a while, but in the beginning, they were essentially a glorified beach floaty. It was something you could splash around on in the water, but the quality and design were not there yet and it was more of a novelty. However, in the last few years, inflatable paddle boards have taken the world by storm and the quality and design have evolved exponentially.
A lot of people are looking for something more accessible that they can travel with that won’t break the bank. It’s opened up the market to a whole new demographic that didn’t have interest in lugging around a cumbersome hardboard. Inflatable boards now account for the lion’s share of the market. Designs have gone from basic single-layer construction to advanced light-weight triple-layer construction that provides a top-quality riding experience with something portable and more affordable than a hardboard.
SUP foil boarding
Foil boarding broke onto the scene in a major way a few years ago when Kai Lenny posted a video online showcasing the new technique. A lot of people were hooked at first sight and wanted to experience the feeling of hovering or 'flying' on top of the water. Foil boarding continues to gain popularity and as technology improves and prices go down, it’s something that could very quickly go mainstream.
Next big fitness trend
Variety is the spice of life and people are always looking for something fresh to break up the mundane routines that they have become accustomed to. Personal fitness is no exception. Not everyone wants to get their workout cooped up in the gym with dumbbells and cardio machines. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is an excellent alternative to get in shape.
With paddle boarding, you are using so many different muscles at the same time making it a great all-around workout. It requires strength and stamina with so many different body parts working in unison. Your shoulders and arms are engaged, propelling you through the water, while your legs, glutes, and core are working hard to keep your balance. The rougher the waters, the more intense the ab workout will be. You might not feel the burn right away, but you will definitely feel it after. And trust us, it’s a lot more fun than planking.
The beauty of a SUP workout is that it is customizable. If you want to change the degree of difficulty, all you have to do is change your environment. If you prefer a slow jaunt on a placid lake you can do that. But if you want to ramp it up and paddle through strong currents, race, or surf, you can do that too. And because of the low-impact nature of the sport, it’s a great cross-training option for all walks of life.
Yoga is all about balance. And unsurprisingly, so is paddle boarding. No wonder these two crafts make such a perfect marriage. For the same reason people are ditching the gym for the sea, so are those taking their practice from the yoga studio to the ocean or lake. SUP yoga is for all ages and abilities but it will be a little more difficult to balance on your board than it is on flat ground, so it does take some practice. But luckily after all your hard work, there’s an easy way to cool yourself off.
Inclusion in the Olympics
It seems it’s only a matter of time before SUP makes its way to the Olympic games – and it could be as soon as Paris in 2024! The conversation has been picking up steam with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and SUP has already been included in the 2023 Pan American Games. The future is bright for SUP.
From its humble beginnings, SUP has continued its meteoric rise thanks to innovation and technology. As the product has evolved and become portable without sacrificing quality, it’s opened the door for a lot of people who are looking for a refreshing way to achieve a great workout while connecting with nature. And now with the possibility of being recognized as an Olympic sport, we are likely to see SUP becoming even more of a household name. Cheers to that.