BEND, Ore. - Stand up paddleboarding is a sport that's exploding in popularity in the U.S. and in Central Oregon. In this week's edition of "Get Started," NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin gets some lessons in how to stay afloat.
Before splashing into the water, Sun Country Tours owner Dennis Oliphant makes sure his clients learn the basics on dry land. He teaches them to find the "sweet spot" on the board.
"You pull yourself forward with just your toes if you have to go forward a little more," said Oliphant. "To go back, just raise your heels and shimmy back so you have equal weight on your feet."
Next, I learned how to hold the paddle and switch sides.
Instead of taking long strides, Oliphant says shorter, swift ones are more effective. Using your whole body is key, and if your ab muscles start to hurt-- you know it's working.
In Oregon, a life jacket is required on board, so we suit up and hit the water. When you get in, make sure to be about knee deep, enough to get the fin off the sand.
Standing up in the water proves to be a bit harder than on the dry land.
"Shaft down, feet up, hips low and stand up slowly," Oliphant said.
I make it up onto the board, keeping my knees bent, and I start paddling right away.
They're asking themselves, ‘Is it really that hard?'" said Oliphant. "It's really not. Generally, it's climbing out on the thing, standing up and paddling away."
After a couple laps, I can see keeping my arms straight and using my whole body is key to not tiring out fast.
Once I start getting the hang of it, Dennis and I head up the Deschutes River. When the river gets rough, we bend our knees more and try to stay close to shore.
IIt's the fastest growing water sport in the world, by far," Oliphant said. "The industries cannot even really keep up with the demand."
By the end of the lesson, my form is spot on.
"Oh, perfect!" Oliphant tells me. "Don't change a thing. That's a great paddle stroke."
To rent a paddleboard, most places in Central Oregon cost about $20 an hour. To purchase your own, the boards start around $500 and go up from there.