The first time I went to Cliff Lakes to try paddle boarding, it was under duress from my Pilates teacher, Clare Watts of the Pilates Lounge in Sutton Coldfield. “You’ve got to try this; you’re going to love it!” she said. Pilates is hard enough without the threat of falling in a lake, I thought – but love it I did. After a second trip with Clare, I decided to brave going to the lake alone to concentrate on my paddle skills.
A place in a one-hour group lesson for beginners costs £25.00 inclusive of equipment hire – and aside from an hour on the lake, the fee also buys you the expertise of one of their teachers to guide you through the techniques.
Our teachers Ian and Chris were really friendly and accommodating. Massively encouraging to members of the group who had not been on the lake before – and so genuinely enthusiastic about water sports, you’d believe they had flippers instead of feet!
After a quick round of hints and tips on land, it was time to get out on the water. Once we had found our balance on our knees, it was time to stand up.
“Just keep looking at the horizon! If you look down, you’ll lose balance and fall in!”
Sure enough there were a few falls – and around the 40 minute mark the class descended into carnage as it was declared fair game to de-board others. Building up confidence and speed on the board comes quite easily – but manoeuvring it away from other boarders trying to de-bunk you is another matter!
Having ended up in the lake myself – after having my board flipped by my friend Charlie (who I have known since secondary school, and should have known better than to invite!) I can assure you, it wasn’t scary. And actually, as paddle boarding is such a great full body work-out – once I was back on the board and moving, I didn’t feel the cold at all. (I would advise wearing dri-fit gym clothing to board for the first time, as it doesn’t hold much water, and won’t interfere with your swimming should you fall off.)
Once you’re confident on the board – it’s advisable to become a club member. The annual membership fee is £60.00, after which board and paddle hire is just £5.00 per visit. Stand up paddle boarding is a novel, but increasingly popular, way to enjoy the fresh air and scenery at Cliff Lakes – I’m not sure what ached most the day after – my arms from the work-out, or my face from smiling.
All in all, if you’re looking for a new outdoor fitness pursuit, I would thoroughly recommend getting in touch with the guys at Central SUP. The challenge to your balance and core-stability is something most indoor work-outs lack – and the friendly atmosphere down at Cliff Lakes means you’ll be checking your diary to make another booking before you leave!
You can find more information, prices, package deals and contact information at www.centralsup.com