If you’ve been out on The Strand recently, you may have seen a group of Stand Up Paddleboaders doing some interesting things – planking, squatting and even doing push-ups on their boards. It’s all part of a plan to take the booming sport of SUP to the next level by offering a dynamic cross-training option that builds core strength, plus offers the opportunity to fuel that competitive fire.
Mark Strachan has been in the Defence Force in one form or another since 1987 but – while he’s always been ‘cardio fit’ – the long pack marches and runs left him with a sore lower back and knees. Then eight months ago he discovered Stand Up Paddleboarding on a mate’s recommendation – since then he’s been injury-free, dropped 11kg and managed to rope his wife, 22-year-old son and three workmates into the world’s fastest growing watersport.
“I liken Stand Up Paddleboarding to push biking on the water,” tells Mark, who also enjoys his mountain biking and trips up Castle Hill. “You can cruise around, look at what’s around you and have a coffee and a chat afterwards; or you can step it up and use it as a fitness sport and a way to build speed and strength. Plus it has mental health benefits – there’s something about being on the water that’s so calming – it’s hard to feel stressed out or angry.”
Mark now does four SUP sessions a week with the guys he works with, but – based on the interest and enquiries he’s received from others seeing them doing their drills in front of Tobruk Pool – he is partnering up with kiteboarding gun and watersports advocate Marvin Baumeister from In the Loop to offer SUP fitness sessions every Sunday.
“It’s a new concept for Townsville and it will offer sprinting sets on the boards for cardio, and planking, squats and push-ups for strength,” Mark says, “Plus once stinger season ends we can also include some in-water elements to mix it up even more. It’s a great cross-training option and what it does for your core strength and balance is amazing.”
The ultimate aim for Mark and Marvin is to assist the local SUP community to develop more competitive events where people can test their skills on the water. SUPs are already a part of this weekend’s Battle of the Barge event (March 14) and the rest of the North Queensland Ocean Paddle Series with specific challenges within the short course, but more competitive events are in development with the opportunity for local SUPers to travel and test themselves against some of the paddleboarders in more developed regions like the Gold Coast. Or paddlers can just use it as an opportunity to pack a picnic in a backpack and explore places they’ve never been to in Townsville.
“SUP is a great option for people who are looking for something new to do to challenge themselves, or just socialise and be out on the calming water,” Mark says, gesturing around to the glassy Monday-morning water. “It’s the perfect way to start the day and Townsville has the ideal climate for it – just get out there because there are so many places to explore.”
The 7am-8am SUP Fit Sunday sessions are suitable for all ages, fitness and skill levels. They are $10 if you have a SUP board, or $30 if you need to hire one. Classes start Sunday, March 22 on the beach opposite Tobruk Pool.