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Why you should try stand up paddle boarding

Chad Islip, Jetts Fitness Australian Personal Trainer of the Year 2012, has recently joined the ranks of what is said to be the fastest growing watersport on the planet, stand up paddle boarding (SUP).  He is already proving a force to be reckoned with placing second in his first amateur competitive SUP race.

We interviewed Chad about his new found interest and his opinion on why SUP is so appealing.

What prompted you to take up SUP?

My little brother, Beau O’Brian is the 2012 Australian SUP champion and an international paddler.  I decided I ‘wanted in’ watching him travel the world, kicking goals and having a great time.  I love a challenge so I figured why not give it a shot.  I am competitive by nature and SUP is for all ages.


What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started?

Balance was the big issue for me.  I kept sinking the boards.  Paddling on some of the top race boards was like riding a toothpick and it took some time for me to realise I needed a wider board to improve my stability.

Tell us about the different disciplines of SUP

There are a few disciplines in SUP, flat water racing; down-winding; distance racing; technical racing and surfing. 

There is nowhere to hide in flat water racing.  It’s just you, the paddle and willpower.  There is no recovery time on a wave as you have in the technical race.  It’s just a hard slog that really tests your personal boundaries but is a great way to improve fitness.  There’s also the constant desire to catch up with the top boys and stay on their wake. 

Down-winding is exciting.  Mother Nature is unpredictable with the tide, wind and swell always different and once you’re able to balance on the board you can look around and enjoy your surroundings. 

Surfing is a rush as every wave is different but this is the element of SUP where I’m still a novice with the most room to grow.  There is such a broad gap between the good surfers and the novices and it’s all about the points, not the time.

Which discipline do you prefer and why?

Surfing is the most enjoyable.  Flat water may be the least enjoyable for me but the most beneficial in terms of fitness so I guess it's a bit of a ‘Love Hate’ relationship.

What are the health benefits of SUP?

It’s a full body, aerobic workout, which works on core strength, power to weight, stability and co-ordination but most of all – it’s FUN!

What is something that is unique about your sport?

SUP is like walking on water, it's a sport with a fantastic view and it's suitable for all ages and abilities. ‘If you can stand, you can SUP’.

Do you take any supplements to assist you with your training?

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle nothing beats a well-balanced diet consisting of all the nutrients that the body requires. The demands of SUP however can be quite extraordinary and therefore supplements definitely have their place. I drink a recovery protein blend and make sure I have sufficient electrolytes.  I also take a good multivitamin and drink 3-4 litres of water per day.  Because the sport is so demanding I also make sure I have good magnesium levels to help prevent the dreaded cramping.

What is the biggest misconception about SUP?

That it’s only a recreational sport for a bunch of old people.  Most people don’t know much about the racing side of SUP and there is a lack of awareness and education about the sport in general.  Most people see it as a touristy form of mild activity along the river and in the canals. Trust me, get on a race board and go ‘Full Throttle’ and it is quite the opposite!!

Have you given stand up stand up paddle boarding a try before?
Tell us about it below!

What do you think?