SUP Boot Camp: Getting in Shape on the Water

Summer kind of sneaked up on us in the Hamptons, but you can always get back in shape by going to SUP Boot Camp.

It had been spring-ish for quite awhile—daytime highs that approach summer temps but never quite made it, relatively low humidity—but then mid-June hit and it’s like nature remembered that she’s supposed  to switch seasons.

With the warm weather came a bit of a panic because of its fleeting stay. I had yet to spend significant time at the beach. Or even outside for that matter.

So when April Yakaboski, the owner of Aerial Fitness, called to ask if I wanted to try out her new stand-up paddleboard boot camp class, I jumped on the opportunity to get on the water.

“I wanted to take our fitness classes outside and add a new challenge,” says Yakabowski referring to the SUP Boot Camp program. “Just like TRX training, the paddle boards force your body to utilize 85% of the body’s muscles for balance and stabilization on the board. It just made sense that we take our bootcamp to the board.”

The Sunday morning class brought cloudy but warm conditions, and I drove to Hampton Bays pumped for the workout. The class meets at 9 a.m., right after Aerial Fitness’s 8 a.m. SUP Yoga class. Meeting places vary depending on the conditions, but this day we were at “Rumba Beach”—so named for its location just south of Rumba restaurant and bar—right on Shinnecock Bay.

The workout started with a paddle to a small peninsula just east of our starting point, with Yakaboski paddling along to ensure that everyone was using the proper technique. Turns out, despite my self-proclaimed non-rookie SUP status, I haven’t been getting the most out of my stroke. The key is to submerge the whole end of the paddle into the water.

The boards are long and fat, ensuring that anyone who tries will be able to balance. And midway through the hour-long class, it was hard to tell who had paddled before and who had not.

Once we arrived at the sandy peninsula, we immediately went into intense workout phase, running “suicide sprints” and using a sandbag to do weighted lunges. Then, the group split into two, with one half enjoying a paddleboard race to a buoy and the other half doing an ab attack. (Yakaboski kindly brings beach mats so you don’t get incredibly sandy during this part.) Then the two groups switched.

As difficult as the class was for me—due in part to intense soreness sustained from running the Shelter Island 10K the evening before—the time passed relatively quickly. A perk of constantly being in motion is that you don’t have much time to think about how much longer you have left in the class.

“Paddle boarding out onto the waters, you are transported to another place, both mentally and physically,” says April. “There’s no need to vacation when you live in such a wonderful place.”

The classes meet every Sunday at Rhumba Beach or at the Inn Spot on the Bay, located right before Ponquogue Bridge. April revealed that, because of the currents, Inn Spot provides a more challenging boot camp. Paddling is more intense than leisurely. There’s also the opportunity to run up Ponquogue Bridge, a difficult sprint. April hopes that participants will be able to work toward running up and down the entire span. I was grateful that Rumba Beach had been chosen for my first workout.

Visit to sign up for class. At its studio in Riverhead, Aerial Fitness also offers classes in aerial yoga, TRX and hot yoga, among others.

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