Stand Up Paddling, SUP, is relatively new, easy to do, only takes a short time to learn, and is an amazing way to get fit without realizing you are having a workout. All you need is enough safe, flat water to paddle round on, from the sea to inland waterways, and it is possible to SUP.
SUP has been available in El Gouna for less than a year and it has already become a favourite pastime for residents and visitors alike. El Gouna, with its kilometers of manmade, interconnecting, flat water lagoons bordering the Red Sea nearly seems to be designed with SUP in mind. Its popularity is hardly surprising: the smiles and laughter of the SUP-ers are infectious and it is hard to avoid wanting to have a go at it yourself.
With its roots loosely in Hawaiian surf culture, the biggest difference between paddle surfing and the modern sport of SUP is that waves are optional. SUP involves paddling round on a large surf-style board, with a long, single bladed paddle for propulsion. It is that simple. Beginners start off by paddling while kneeling down on the board, to get a feel for the way it moves on the water.
Soon you move on to standing up and, sooner or later, falling off of course. Falling is a natural part of the experience, whether accidentally or deliberately, and besides it being fun, it is also a great way to cool off. Getting back on the board is not difficult and before you know it you are on your way again.
Balancing on the board uses the core muscles and the paddling itself engages every muscle in the upper body. SUP is a complete workout on the water, even a gentle paddle at a leisurely pace burns calories, yet it does not feel like any kind of exercise.
As well as the fun factor, the ease of the sport and the fitness benefits are part of its appeal. It’s great for males and females and children and adults of all ages. Boards come in different sizes to suit everyone, from big ones that make balancing easy for beginners, to the sleeker, shorter ones for those who have found their feet, and the paddles are adjustable for height.
A few tips for those who want to give it a go: stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart and keep your legs slightly bent, keep your feet parallel and stand in the middle of the board and look up. It is easier to keep your balance and you get to enjoy your surroundings as you are gliding around.
How and where to go for a watery paddle is only limited by your imagination. It is possible to make a leisurely lagoon trip paddling around El Gouna, or try a new stance, learn different ways to turn, or have a flat out race with your friends.
SUP is definitely for the whole family, parents take their kids for a paddle, couples share a board and siblings can take turns as they propel each other over the water. It is even possible to do yoga on an SUP board, the fun to be had with SUP is limitless.
It is not surprising it is becoming one of the fastest growing water sports.