With the Memorial Day kickoff, summer is officially here! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could fill those endless days of summer relaxing with your friends as you rock back and forth together watching the sunset over some of the most beautiful natural settings? Imagine being able to explore the world from a completely different perspective, be one with nature, and granted serenity from life’s daily stresses. Would you believe me if I told you that while you’re out having fun and relaxing, you could still get a kick a$$ strength and aerobic workout? Sound impossible? Then it’s time for you to step off that treadmill, put down the weights, and get outside into nature’s playground and try KAYAKING!
First, let’s get one thing clear. We’ve all seen those video clips of tiny boats swiftly navigating down river rapids like a rollercoaster…that’s “whitewater” kayaking. Personally, I prefer the serenity of “flatwater” kayaking that you often find in larger, calmer bodies of water such as lakes, oceans, or rivers. The Hudson River, where I paddle locally throughout the Hudson Highlands of NY, is my home away from home. Flatwater kayaking allows you to see wildlife and explore places few rarely get to see because they are only accessible by boat. Many kayakers will tell you there is nothing like pushing off from the shore, taking that first stroke, and knowing that as you float freely you can leave all your worries behind.
Ready to get on the water and take part in one of the greatest outdoor low-impact activities? Here are 5 tips to help you have a safe, fun first paddling experience:
Take a Lesson
When my husband began kayaking, the very first thing he did was sign up for a lesson and it was the best thing he ever did! After spending the afternoon with his instructor learning the basic fundamental skills he was HOOKED! With the risks that can sometimes come with sea kayaking, taking a lesson and paddling with a PRO will help you form proper paddling habits from the very beginning! Check out The American Canoe Association’s (ACA) database on their website to find a certified kayak instructor near you!
Find a Reputable Outfitter
The more I kayak with my paddle family and began to guide at Hudson River Expeditions, the more I learned about how much preplanning and “behind the scenes” work goes on before you even get on the water. From proper boat selection and fit to proper gear, weather conditions, tides, and currents, your local outfitter can help you so that you and your friends can just focus on having FUN!
Always Wear Your PFD (Lifejacket)
Whether you’re an experienced paddler or a beginner, always wear your PFD! Conditions can change suddenly when you’re out on the water. Be safe, be prepared, and remember that your first line of defense is to always wear your PFD.
Dress for Success
Before heading out on the water make sure to check the weather, so you can be prepared. It’s best to dress in lightweight layers and clothing that is quick to dry and made of synthetic fabrics. When you’re dressing to paddle, your clothing should reflect the temperature of the water you could fall into. Cotton is NOT the way to go for the “river runway.” Also, don’t forget to throw on a cute brimmed hat, some sunscreen, and sunglasses to shield you from the sun’s rays. Shoes that fit securely on your feet and protect you from sharp rocks are recommended as well. It’s always a good idea to pack a dry bag with rain gear and extra clothing just in case you need it.
Grab your Friends!
Kayaking with a group is always recommended. There’s safety in numbers and well… it’s just more fun! There’s nothing like the camaraderie of being on the water with your friends.
Fitness is beyond the gym! Join in on the endless summer fun and try something new! Kayaking has something for everyone and is fun for all ages. I hope to see you all on the river soon!