Sports, Fitness & Wellness

Keep Standup Paddleboarding Through the Fall

With the advent of fall, a sense of quiet has descended upon the East End. But fall is arguably the most active time across the North and South forks, as outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of the crisp weather, empty beaches and warm ocean to stay fit through the offseason.

Earlier this year, Outside Magazine ranked the Hamptons as the most relaxing place in the United States to standup paddleboard (SUP). And that distinction remains true through the fall.

“Paddling through the Hamptons is beautiful, because the weather is perfect, the foliage is amazing, and there are fewer people, so generally the experience is better,” says Andrea Fornarola Hunsberger of Elements Fitness in East Hampton. This summer, Elements launched a stand up paddleboarding fitness class and stand up paddleboarding barre class, both of which will continue during the offseason, weather permitting. SUP can be a relaxing way to travel the East End’s waterways; or an intense way to build strength. “Our Paddle Fit SUP Fitness Class incorporates interval training and challenging conditions on and off the board,” Hunsberger says.

A relatively new way to get in shape, standup paddleboarding is a total body workout, as it strengthens core muscles and works on upper body toning. Though balancing on a board takes practice, most who try SUP are able to paddle around on their first try.

“Once the heat of the summer dissipates, the fall is a gorgeous time on the water,” adds Evelyn O’Doherty, who teaches SUP, yoga and surfing on the East End. “The air cools but the water is still warm and often, early in the morning, you’ll find yourself gliding through the mist as the heat of the water rises and turns to fog as it hits the cooler air.”

As many beaches no longer require parking permits into the fall, the entire East End is available for people to try their hand at SUP. Beginners should stick to smaller, sheltered waterways, as the ride will be smoother. Ideal spots include Mecox Bay in Water Mill and Hook Pond in East Hampton.

“SUP in general is great work out because it uses the entire body,” Hunsberger says. “It’s low impact and provides resistance. It strengthens the core, the arms, and the legs while providing a good amount of cardio.”

For the experienced standup paddleboarder, Main Beach Surf and Sport hosts the annual Paddle Race for Ocean Rescue on October 10. The 6-mile downwind race course takes paddlers from Lazy Point in Amagansett to Eddie Ecker State Park in Montauk. Funds raised support local lifeguards. Visit mainbeach.com for more information and to register.

“Standup is an incredible training tool. It’s also a very good vehicle for transport. For fitness, it is an incredible workout,” says Laird Hamilton, a famed big-wave surfer and the founder of SUP. Hamilton was in Sag Harbor earlier this summer for the annual Paddle for Pink, a SUP race that raised money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Laird Hamilton at the Paddle for Pink.
Laird Hamilton at the Paddle for Pink. Photo credit: Daniel Gonzalez

Hamilton began standup paddleboarding when his first daughter was born, and he began experimenting with tandem boards so that he could take her surfing. “Before I took her out, I wanted to get good at riding the boards, and I thought, it would be nice if you never had to lay back down [to go surfing], if you just stayed up the whole time,” says Hamilton. He borrowed a canoe paddle from a friend and began to play around in the surf and catch smaller waves. “I was immediately struck by not only the perspective, but the whole feeling and the motion and the productivity of [SUP].” Hamilton made prototypes of more appropriate paddles and then began to shape the sport.

Hamilton paddled for about five or six years by himself before the sport really took off. It has since spread from west to east, making its way into the Atlantic surf scene. Now an activity enjoyed both by people who seek the tranquility of a paddle through bays as well as those who crave the thrill of surfing the local breaks, SUP has a wide appeal.

With the temperature of the Atlantic remaining in the mid-60s through early October, there’s no better time to get out there!

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