Stand up and Paddle!

Happy Eid to all our Muslim brothers and sisters!

I know it’s already jacket-weather in some parts of the world, but here in the Middle East, this is the perfect time to be outdoors.  This Eid found us waking up early and driving to Sunset Beach.  I spent my holiday in this very same spot three years ago and was surprised to see it as busy as it is today, a sign of Dubai’s emergent beach culture.

While before we were here simply to worship the sun, now it was to try our hand at one of the fastest growing watersports today, Stand Up Paddling.  SUP is pretty much self-explanatory.  Some call this Stand up Paddle Surfing or Stand Up Paddle Boarding—just stand up and paddle.  How hard could that be?

I, along with my dad, sister, and hubby selected our boards and took to the Arabian Gulf.

One of the instructors, a 15 year old, basically told me, “Kneel first, stand, then paddle.” Oooh-kay.  I repeated his words then the boy left, assured that was all I needed to know.  You see we didn’t sign up for lessons, although I suggest you do.  My sis, having done this twice before, swore it was no biggie and she was going to stay with us the whole time anyway.

As I tried to kneel, the waves were working against me, and inside my head I was screaming like that 5 year-old a few feet from me.  Poor little girl–her parents pulling a prank on her by putting her on the paddleboard and leaving her there! Not a nice prank I’d say.  She might be scared of the thing for life.

She was bawling like a baby, “Waaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! No, no, no!!!!!”  OMG she must be reading my mind aloud.  Please make her stop.  A few concerned stares from bystanders (mine included) and her parents finally took her.  Now I can concentrate.

It was tough at first.  Plus my sis saying, “You know how to swim anyway, right??”  gave me more anxiety than comfort.  After a few minutes (yes it was that fast) I got the hang of it  🙂   SUP is very easy to learn.  You just need to to paddle on flat water by standing on it and then using a paddle to move the board around.  Waves give you more of a challenge but I think like me, you’ll be comfortable with the water quickly.  It took me about 15 minutes.  And this is from someone who nevah works out.  Fine I do yoga once a week (wait that doesn’t even count) and I enjoy swimming when I can but I am not your typical gym enthusiast who trains like an athlete.

So if 15-year-olds and I can do it, you can do it too.  What’s so fun about SUP is that you don’t feel like you’re working out.  It’s so addictive!  And unlike surfing, you don’t need to wait for waves.  Additionally, when you paddle away from the shore, screaming 5-year-olds are no longer within earshot.  So is the music, the chatter, the crowd.  It’s just you and the sea.  When you stand on the board, you’re on full height..getting an abundant view of the horizon..while getting an incredible core exercise.   Who needs the gym?

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