With the warmth of the sun kissing shoulders, the lap of the waves against the shore and the gentle splash of a single paddle breaking the stillness of the lake, it’s no surprise paddle boarding has made its way into the lives of many Crusaders.
Also known as stand-up paddling, this activity provides relaxation, exercise and fun.
Senior mass communication/public relations major Lucia Hood has grown to love the sport. After spending the summer in Austin, she picked up a paddle and made a hobby of it. She has only been practicing for a year, but enjoys going out on the water whenever she can.
“Everyone does it on Town Lake in Austin. I used to see people out there all the time. My dad actually introduced me to it initially, and I loved it right away. Now I have my own board,” she said.
In Austin, the sport has become a social event. Early in the morning, one or two people venture out. But as the sun rises, more and more adventurers may be seen.
This trend has definitely made waves in other seaside cities as well, though Belton has just begun to see some action on its own lake.
“I’m addicted …. Yoga on paddle boards is a very popular urban exercise for those who love water or exercise. Lake Belton is the perfect place because it’s close for students and has easy access areas,” Hood said.
Junior nursing major Shelby Chadwick often accompanies Hood on her excursions.
“I started a couple years ago. I saw people doing it on the ocean and decided to do it myself. I enjoy paddle boarding on Lake Belton because it’s a simple way to get away,” she said.
“As soon as I set out on my board, I forget about everything that has been going on that day.”
The two women have experimented combining yoga moves with the already difficult balance of boarding.
“You can do so many things on the board. Obviously, you can paddle or even use it as a kayak. It’s harder than it looks, though. You would think you could do it all day, but it’s tiring. I like getting a workout without the feeling of working out,” Hood said.
Senior nursing major Kaylynn Armstrong didn’t notice the strain of SUP. For her, it was a lot simpler than she imagined.
“It came really easy to me, and I loved it. I notice some people have a more difficult time getting used to it, but I caught on quickly. It is a great outdoor activity to do, and it’s also really relaxing,” Armstrong said.
Chadwick found her niche as well after a little practice.
“Personally, it’s not hard for me. All you need is a little body control. I love going with friends and just paddling and exploring,” she said.
Kids, adults and seniors can all participate in the exercise, and that makes it popular.
“It’s a fun activity for people of all ages, and it’s beneficial for your health,” Hood said. “Whether you want to go with a group of friends or just by yourself, it’s a guaranteed fun time.”
The activity has already caught on at UMHB. Dr. Jamey Plunk teaches in the department of exercise sport science. He taught a class in kayaking and is excited about the addition of an SUP class this fall.
“It will be offered for the first time during the ‘B’ section of this semester, beginning in mid-October. Kids can still register for it,” he said.
Hood took Plunk’s kayaking class, which will be similar to the SUP class coming up. She encourages students to try something different and enroll in the new course. For anyone seeking new experiences and adventures, the class provides a getaway from traditional classroom lectures and intense workouts.
Hood enjoys the outdoor learning.
“After kayaking, Dr. Plunk really became a role model to me right away. He is such an outgoing, energetic and happy person. One time, he took us to FrostiCones after one of our trips. He really cares, and that makes it even more fun,” she said.
Plunk hopes students will step out of their comfort zone, even if they have no experience with water sports. He, too, enjoys spending afternoons out on a board.
“My favorite things about paddle boarding are the tranquility of it, the chance to spend some time outside on the water and even the workout you can get. It also really helps your tan,” Plunk said. “We don’t rent them (boards) at Mayborn, but we hope to in the near future.”