My SUP Fitness course at Duke University is wrapping up in one week. Twelve awesome students have worked with me all semester-long on all aspects of SUP from paddling, turning, and water safety, to SUP yoga and SUP workouts. We meet twice a week in the pool at Brodie Rec center which is a fantastic way to learn and build skills, strength, balance and confidence. There is nothing like being outside on open water on a SUP though and this past weekend we got to take all of our skills, knowledge and practice to the great outdoors and Jordan Lake. Despite the warm 80 degree air temps, the water was still a bit cool and very choppy. My group of SUPerstars was not deterred by the rough chop or the cold water. They came to SUP and so we did. It was a fabulous afternoon and I am so grateful for the chance to share this sport with such enthusiastic, interested and energetic students. Thank you all.
Ready to challenge your balance and core strength?
Looking to mix up your workout routine or try something new with your yoga practice?
SUP Yoga and SUP Fitness take your yoga practice to an entirely different place -- on a paddleboard, in the pool. With our paddleboards, we create floating mats by tethering the boards to the lane ropes. We challenge and build core strength, practice balance and stability, and have fun moving through familiar poses and sequences in a less familiar setting.
Our first three dates for 2017 are:
2:30pm -- SUP Yoga
3:45pm -- SUP Fitness
Orange County Sportsplex, Hillsborough, NC
Registration for SUP Yoga and SUP Fitness is now open! You can register for one or all 6 right now! Register through Eventbrite here.
See you on the water soon!!!!
This article first appeared in the News & Observer on July 27, 2016, and I’m posting it here with permission. Thank you News & Observer and Randy Young for the awesome article and photo! Grateful and proud.
Board with plain yoga? It goes well with water.
Fitness SUP Yoga’s Jen Cox demonstrates a ‘three-legged dog’ pose aboard a stand-up paddleboard on Sunday morning at Jordan Lake. Photo by Randy B. Young firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY RANDY B. YOUNG
In their quest for bliss and serenity, yoga enthusiasts are ever-adventurous, always seeking bigger and better paths to health, wellness, and balance.
In fact, practitioners who have dabbled in Bikram yoga, hot yoga, acro-yoga, anti-gravity yoga and restorative yoga, are now more and more “getting board.”
Taking to the slow-moving streams, lakes, bays and seas, more and more yoga enthusiasts are coming to believe that yoga practice on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) provides a better core workout due to the need for balance while performing poses.
Riding this wave in popularity are local instructors Maria Finnegan and her yoga instruction partner Jen Cox, who were offering three classes Sunday at Jordan Lake’s Vista Point, including a private early-morning class to a group from a local Research Park corporation.
“I usually ask people after an indoor class if they liked it,” Finnegan said. “When they say, ‘Yeah,’ I tell them that if they liked it indoors, just wait until they get onto a lake. ‘You’re going to love it.’”
Paddleboarding has been seen a steady rise for almost a decade, now reflecting the fastest-growing segment of the surf business in an industry valued in the tens of billions of dollars.
Stand-up paddleboarding, which first grew popular on the beaches of Hawaii in the 1960s, has spread to mainland waterways, even in urban settings, VeryWell.com’s Ann Pizer wrote.
“It’s also a great way to get fit, as you work the legs and core to stay up on the board, and the arms and back to propel yourself,” she added. “The board is broad and stable enough that someone got the bright idea of treating it like a floating yoga mat, and SUP yoga was born.”
“I actually told Maria about SUP,” Cox said. “Then Maria got hooked just like I did, and she decided to take it to the next level.”
“We both went together and did our Fitness Onboard training in Austin (Texas) two summers ago together,” Finnegan said of her and Cox. “I’d had my 200 hours of yoga training, and Jen is now training as a yoga instructor. When I take larger groups, I always take Jen, because you really need two people.”
Finnegan, a wife and mother of three children, runs Maria Finnegan Fitness. She is a course instructor at Duke University and a fitness manager at Snap Fitness in Hillsborough. Athleta Clothing’s local sponsored athlete in Durham, her Fitness SUP Yoga has been voted the Triangle’s “Best Yoga Studio” by Endurance Magazine.
Speaking at a beginners’ class held at the Orange County SportsPlex pool last year, Finnegan said SUP yoga could work more core elements than traditional yoga.
“You’re getting the core work like you would with any other unstable surface,” she said. “All the muscles are being recruited in areas like your core, back, legs, all just to steady you so you won’t fall over.”
“Poses that are very familiar – downward-facing dog, lunge, or tree — suddenly become unfamiliar,” Finnegan added Sunday morning. “On the board, it makes people who have had experience more aware of ... imbalances. They have to, or else they’ll feel their board tipping.”
While a stand-up paddleboard in a pool can provide many advantages over traditional studio yoga, Finnegan raves about taking the practice to the great outdoors.
“On a lake, you get paddling time which you don’t get in a pool,” she said, “And on Jordan Lake, we’ve seen eagles, heron, and I’ve had a fish jump up on my board and then jump back into the water.”
“Yoga is relaxing, energizing and regenerative, but this takes it to an entirely new level,” she added. “You have Mother Nature for surroundings. You don’t need music – you have birds, crickets and frogs. You have a breeze, and you have sunshine on your face.”
Rebecca E. Allen recently asked Finnegan to teach a private class for a handful of participants from her company, where her role is to create opportunities for people, primarily in dance and fitness.
“This fit into both our yoga and our outdoor scene,” Allen said. “I just checked websites, and Maria’s was by far the best-organized. ... And she also had great testimonials.”
Class participant Chip Davis said he had some SUP experience.
“I love it,” he said, “so I’m definitely looking forward to it today. I’ve done wakeboarding, but this is more calm and relaxing. It works balance, which is interesting.”
Members of Finnegan’s stand-up paddleboard yoga class take to the water at Jordan Lake’s Vista Point. . PHOTO BY RANDY B. YOUNG email@example.com.
First and foremost, Finnegan and Cox make sure their class participants overcome any fear of falling into the water.
“I try to coach people how to get back on a board while they’re still on land,” Finnegan said. “If somebody does fall, I usually tell them to take a breath and take a moment. The gut reaction is, ‘I need to get back up and get back into that pose.’ Usually, after someone falls, others realize that it’s not that scary, and then they relax and just go for it.
“What’s the worst case scenario?” Finnegan asked. “What if I do fall in a lake? It’ll catch me.”
“We also tell people to go ahead and try poses,” Cox said. “We cheer for people who fall; we whoop and holler, because it’s better to fall trying a pose than not really try at all. ”
There lies the allegory for living life that Finnegan says is her mantra. “I tell clients to take these principles and apply them to their day, family life and relationships,” she said. “Just like land yoga, SUP yoga teaches the tools of balance, trust and vulnerability on the board. Then I say, ‘How can we use this in life?’ I try to tell people not to beat themselves up if they fall; you just get back up again.”
Finnegan said, ultimately, those who try open-water SUP yoga gain confidence and are empowered.
“They really understand what it’s like to be grounded through both feet or grounded through hands and legs,” she said.
“I love seeing people who are shaky on the boards heading out onto the lake and then (so steady) coming back in,” Cox added.
“You watch their whole demeanor change: ‘I can do this; I’ve got this,’” Finnegan said.
Still on the rise thanks to the effervescence of advocates like Finnegan and Cox, it seems a couple hours walking on water can now leave yoga enthusiasts walking on air.
Maria Finnegan gives basic safety tips and instructions to a class of Yoga paddleboarders at Jordan Lake Sunday morning. Participants were from a Research Triangle corporation who arranged with Finnegan to take the class. Photo by Randy B. Young firstname.lastname@example.org.
The weather is warm, the sun is shining bright, and we are heading to the lake for the start of our Summer 2016 SUP season.
This week I opened registration for my Summer SUP classes at Jordan Lake. You can see a complete list of my SUP classes scheduled to date on my Class Schedule page, and can register by clicking on any of the blue-highlighted dates and times. .
You can also find links to register for any of my scheduled SUP classes at my Maria Finnegan Fitness Eventbrite page.
There are 7 community class dates to choose from so far, with more to come! This year I’ll be leading most of my classes at two locations on Jordan Lake: Vista Point in Pittsboro and Farrington Point Boat Ramp in Chapel Hill. So far classes are scheduled for Sunday mornings, Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings.
In addition to daytime SUP Yoga and SUP Fusion classes, I’m offering Sunset Yoga on selected Thursday nights at 6:00 pm. There is nothing more relaxing or more beautiful than moving through your yoga practice, floating on the cool water, feeling the warm air on your skin and listening to the soothing summer evening sounds on the lake. It’s a lovely experience that I can't wait to share with you.
SUP Class Descriptions
SUP Yoga takes your yoga practice to a whole new place. . . On a paddle board. . . On the water. . . In a quiet cove on Jordan Lake. Together we will paddle, practice yoga, relax and paddle some more. No worries if you are new to paddle boarding, I will provide paddling and SUP technique instruction on land before getting you on your board. We will paddle for about 15 to 20 minutes before heading to our yoga spot.
And no worries if you are new to yoga. We will practice poses for all levels of ability. There are options for staying lower to the board to gain confidence and balance. With time, we
will move to our feet and practice standing poses and other more challenging postures. Our yoga practice lasts about 55 minutes and then we paddle for about 10 to 15 minutes back to shore.
The entire experience is approximately 2 hours, with 90 minutes on the board and water.
Each student will be encouraged to work at their own pace and practice patience and contentment as we experience yoga on the water. We will have lots of opportunity for rest and relaxation and a chance to drink in the gorgeous setting and notice the lightness of our bodies on the boards.
SUP Fusion is a total body workout experience that challenges your body and mind. Your board becomes a floating gym as we combines yoga, resistance training and cardio/core conditioning. After a land lesson where I review paddle technique and general instructions, we begin by paddling for about 15 minutes to warm up and and arrive at our workout cove on the lake.
Our workout lasts about 55 minutes during which time we will use a resistance band and body weight to strengthen and challenge our muscles. Yoga poses are incorporated throughout the session and especially at the end to stretch the muscles and wind down after our workout. We then return to shore with another 10-15 minute paddle.
The entire experience is approximately 2 hours, with 90 minutes on the board and water.
Each student will be encouraged to work at their own pace and practice patience and balance while strengthening their bodies and minds.
Yoga experience is helpful but not necessary to take my SUP classes. Nor is prior SUP experience a requirement. I will give you a lesson on land before we head out on the water and will guide and coach you through the entire session.
Private SUP Bookings
This year I’ve had quite a few private booking inquiries so my calendar is starting to fill up with groups who are interested in their own SUP experience. If you have a group interested in your own SUP excursion/class, contact me and let’s find a date to get you out on the water.
Welcome and thank you for visiting this site. I'm happy and grateful to have a place where I can write about fitness and wellness. In addition to blogging about exercise and sharing workouts, I also use this space to tell 200-word stories about the inspiring and amazing people I encounter in this career. I look forward to sharing as many of these journeys as possible, and would love to hear from you if you would like me to tell your story. You can contact me anytime. Thank you so much for your interest and your effort. Think fit...be fit...stay fit! You are stronger than you think. #STYT