Rhonda Beckham: Paddle hard on your way to fitness | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Rhonda Beckham: Paddle hard on your way to fitness

Rhonda Beckham
Help Me Rhonda

While looking out my living room window two summers ago, I noticed a young man standing on what appeared to be a surfboard while he paddled his way across the shallower parts of the lake.

It was an unusual sight, but I didn’t think a whole lot about it until I saw a few more of these upright paddlers crossing my view of the lake (one guy actually had his dog on the board too). I remembering thinking what a great workout it must be because it would require a tremendous amount of core strength, which always impresses me.

The extra-wide surfboards, which are paddled like canoes, go by the name SUPs, or stand-up paddleboards.

This year I started noticing ads for SUP rentals. I am tempted to give it a try since I have learned that it is indeed a great whole body conditioner.

Last weekend the water of El Dorado Beach was full of the paddleboarders during the inaugural Tahoe Paddle Fest. It is definitely a growing sport.

According to TampaBay.com, many think that Leroy Achoy, a legendary Hawaiian surfer, was the first to paddle a tandem surfboard, so he could take photos of his fellow wave riders in the break at Waikiki in the early 1970s. Others think that stand-up paddleboards trace back to Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing and an Olympic gold medalist in swimming. But regardless of its origins, one man, Laird Hamilton, is responsible for introducing stand-up paddleboards to the masses. A 6-foot-3, 215-pound Hawaiian big wave surfer.

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Hawaii’s influence in the sport was evident with the demonstrations locally last weekend.

Beginners need not be intimidated. Stand-up paddleboarding is not nearly as complicated as surfing. Most paddlers can get up and going in less than an hour. Once they do, it won’t be long before they start seeing the benefits of their labor. Stand-up paddlers strengthen the core, the large, deeper muscles that pattern themselves around the trunk, hips and buttocks.

Brody Welte, a personal trainer in Kauai says, “The core is the power generator of the body, it is where we get most of our strength. Lower back pain, knee and hip pain can all be attributed to a weak core.”

I love this statement – just ask my Pilates students.

Burning 800 to 1,000 calories an hour, I’ve heard of people losing more than 50 pounds simply using the paddleboard a few times a week for their workouts. Some think it is the best way to lose weight because it is such an enjoyable exercise experience.

This seems to be all the rage in water sports as all the big surf cities in Hawaii and Florida are now offering Paddleboard Fitness classes. What other form of fitness can you do where you get a workout from your toes to your temples along with enjoying the surrounding scenery and the peace of gliding across the water? If there is enough interest, I’d love to offer a class here next summer, give me a call or e-mail me.

Anytime you exercise and add the challenge of balance, you will burn more calories, tone your legs faster, works your core harder and train your brain to react quickly.

On a different note, thank you to all the Tahoe Daily Tribune readers who voted Joe Pettit and his Sierra Athletic Club the Best of Tahoe Gym, and the club’s trainers Eufay Wood and me, the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, Best of Tahoe Physical Trainers 2009.

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5395 West Lake Blvd.


Phone: (530) 525-9920


Tahoe City Kayak

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Tahoe City

Phone: (530) 581-4331


Rhonda Beckham is owner of Help Me Rhonda Personal Fitness Training. She is a nationally certified personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and a Pilates instructor at Emerald Bay Physical Therapy. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, http://www.TahoeTrainer.com and rhonda@tahoetrainer.com.