Starting Out: Paddling

Interested in canoeing, kayaking or other paddling sports, but don't know where to start?
Published July 10, 2017

Looking to spice up your summer by trying something new? Why not try your hand at a paddling sport? You'll build your arms, abs and back all while learning a new skill and spending some time outdoors.

To canoe or kayak, whichever shall you choose?  If your answer is ‘neither’, you could be missing out!   In addition to appreciating Canada’s great waterways, imagine being out in an open vessel under a clear blue sky and above incredible marine life, using only the force of your core and upper body strength to guide and push your craft through the water. Talk about empowering! 

Best of all, paddle boat recreation is a budget friendly, low impact sport that will earn you multiple FitPoints!   Combine the cost of a rental with one heck of a workout and you have yourself an awesome new hobby. 

Not convinced?  How about burning more than 700 calories canoeing at four miles an hour for only 60 minutes? Time sure flies when ‘fun’ is the primary reason for taking up an activity and health and fitness results, are the added benefits! Before you know it, you’ll have worked up a hefty appetite and summer is the perfect time to jump out of the water and break out the barbecue!

If that sounds even remotely exciting, you are the perfect paddle boat participant! 

Regardless of what you are trying for the first time, anything new generally brings mixed emotions.  Feelings of excitement and joy can often be mixed with fear of failure, judgement, and embarrassment. 

Dawn Callan, PaddleSmart’s Program and National Paddling Week Co-ordinator, suggests, "new paddlers try a beginner lesson and/or rental before you buy your equipment. It's also always more fun if you can get a couple of friends or family together to share the experience."

Additionally, Dawn is quick to give excellent confidence building advice:

  • Wear your life jacket. If you are on a sup board wear an ankle leash. These things will give you the freedom to make a mistake and the comfort to know you will survive to laugh about it and try again.
  • Start one day at a time, and you will build the experience and physical stamina to have fun along the way.
  • Know your limits and grow from within them. For those of us who are older, have injuries or chronic conditions, there is always a way to get onto the water for fun, in a safe and healthy way.

If that pesky inner voice heckles you about drifting off too far or flipping over in the water unable to get unturned, respectably tell it to ‘Quiet down!’ While you don’t have to become a master paddler, think about the extra fun you'll have this summer if you pick up a recreational sport that takes you out of your comfort zone, brings you further into nature and allows you to hone a new skill.