Burn 500 calories with fun, new water workout

Fitness reporter Katy Healey tries stand up paddling at Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs.


You might fall in, but it's a risk worth taking.

Stand up paddling, the newest water sport and workout to hit the metro, is a blast.

It looks like you're walking, or more like gliding, on water. Really, you're standing on a buoyant board, about 10 feet long, and propelling yourself along the water's surface with a paddle.

My boyfriend and I tried it last weekend at Lake Manawa for the first time with the help of Alma Royster, the owner of Meander SUP in Bellevue. (SUP is short for stand up paddling.) The company sells and designs boards in addition to giving lessons. (Read the story on Meander SUP here.)

She showed us how to size the paddle to our height and how to hold it to maneuver in the water more effectively. She also gave us tips on turning the board. Before we got into the water, she showed us how to mount the board and get back on it in case we fell into the lake.

You start on your knees and, when you feel comfortable, slowly move to a standing position, one foot at a time. It's important to keep your back straight and have “soft knees” once you're standing so you don't lose your balance, Royster told us.

That means your core and quads are engaged, and when you paddle, you involve your arms, too. It's a full-body strength workout, but you can't tell. You're too busy having fun.

Royster said you can burn up to 500 calories an hour paddling. Whoa. And no, you don't have to be athletic to do it.

I was sure I was going to end up in the lake – my balance isn't the greatest. I was right. Whoops. I was talking to my boyfriend who was too far away on his board to hear me. I leaned forward, thinking that would help, and when I realized it, I overcompensated by leaning too far back. Splash.

He fell in a few times, too, on the less stable board. (Meander SUP carries three types.) It's normal to fall in your first time trying it, Royster said.

If you absolutely can't stand the thought of getting wet, SUP isn't for you. But if a little water doesn't scare you, it's a must-try.

A three-hour lesson with Royster is $65. You spend majority of that time exploring the lake on your own, though. You can't rent paddle boards from her, but they are available to rent at other stores in Omaha.

Wake N Skate Boardhouse in west Omaha rents boards for $35 for four hours or $50 for 24 hours. The fee includes the paddle, too, but not a life jacket. The University of Nebraska at Omaha's Outdoor Venture Center has paddle boards for rent, too. It's $12 for a 24-hour rental if you're a student and $22 if you're not. Their fee includes the paddle and a life jacket.

That's a steal. Go with your friends if you're tired of the same summer activities. It's a perfect daytime date, too. And at less than $50 for two, it's cheaper than the price of dinner and a movie.

If you're looking for a way to spice up your workout routine, explore nature or just want to have some fun, you'll love stand up paddling – even if you fall in.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1071, katy.healey@owh.com

twitter.com/KatyHealey5

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