This Summer’s Hottest Workout: Stand-up Paddleboarding

Don’t be surprised if you see gaggles of people gliding across the water at the Shore this summer. Stand-up paddleboarding has officially arrived.

The only thing I really knew about stand-up paddleboarding, before trying it in May, was that Matthew McConaughey loves it. Given that he has the body of a Greek god—and that, well, I do not—I wondered: Would I even be able to do it?

“Anyone can paddleboard,” Stacey Marchel, owner of Stacey’s Surf & Paddle in Margate, told me when I called. Unlike surfing, SUP—that’s “stand-up paddleboard” for short—is instantly gratifying, in that you don’t have to spend hours learning how to get on your feet. Perfecting the paddling technique takes some time—arms straight, twist at the waist, pull the board toward the paddle, repeat—but once you do, stand-up paddleboarding can be one helluva workout.

Although SUP has been on the West Coast and in Hawaii for years, it’s only recently gained mainstream traction in our area. In Margate this summer, Marchel will offer a full roster of on-the-water fitness classes, including SUP yoga (yes, we’re talking down-dogs and tree poses on a paddleboard) and boot camp, complete with cardio and conditioning intervals. A beginner class ($50) is required to learn the basics, but then you can SUP-fitness to your heart’s content.

Margate resident Dan Gottlieb, 57, who taught my session and has been training on a paddleboard for five years, straps on a heart-rate monitor and does paddle-sprints for cardio, covering between 20 and 25 miles a week. Cookie Till, 54, who owns Steve & Cookie’s By the Bay restaurant in Margate, often joins him for a paddle; she alternates running and paddleboard as her go-to fitness activities. “It’s a no-impact sport with a similar calorie-burn to running,” says Gottlieb, a financial adviser. “I’m in a high-pressure business and have never been much of a golfer, so this is my way to relax.”

That’s exactly what I liked about SUP. It’s not only a great workout—Till says she’s lost weight and toned muscle, and I could really feel it in my abs the next day—but an incredibly peaceful one at that. “I can get a great workout without realizing I’m exercising. It’s a fun way to be on the water,” Till says. “And besides, it sure beats the heck out of going to the gym.”

Where to Try Stand-up Paddleboarding at the Jersey Shore

Stacey’s Surf & Paddle
Where: Margate, 609-335-9891
What: SUP yoga and boot camp classes, plus lessons, tours and rentals
Cost: Lessons are $40 a person; class packages available.

Harbor Outfitters
Where: Ocean City, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City and Avalon
What: Intro to flat water SUP, advanced SUP, stand-up paddle surf, SUP yoga, SUP Pilates, plus tours and rentals
Cost: Intro classes start at $70 a person for up to two people, and $50 a person for three or more. Pilates and yoga start at $50 for drop-ins.

Steger’s Stand-up Paddleboard
Where: Cape May
What: SUP intro lessons, rentals, and dolphin and marsh tours
Cost: Lessons are $50 for one person, $85 for two, $120 for three, and $140 for four.

Jersey Shore Adventures
Where: Wildwood
What: SUP yoga, Paddle Fit, plus lessons, rentals and tours
Cost: Lessons are $50 for one person, $45 each for two people.