Paddle Your Way to Fitness

Get out on the water to improve your fitness while having fun enjoying the scenery

Credit: Big Chop Paddle Series

Try a paddling sport to add variety to your dryland fitness program

Last Thursday I hopped on my standup paddleboard and took part in the first Big Chop paddle race of the year

It was a blast!

The race began at the Kits Point boat launch pier and included two routes; the Big Chop, a 7 km loop and the Little Chop, a 4 km loop. Racers could compete in a variety of boats including kayaks, surf skis, outrigger canoes, double kayaks, dugout canoes and, of course, standup paddleboards (SUP).

Skies were overcast and the weather looked dicey. Initially I was reluctant to go but then I caught myself. I normally work on Thursdays coaching a running clinic so I don’t get many chances to do fun events like this and I was going to let the possibility of a little rain stop me? I must have gotten soft in Maui.

Getting a bit wet was no excuse to skip this race. I’ve never taken part in any sort of paddling race so it was definitely out of my comfort zone. Which made it the perfect thing to do. (I’m wearing the blue jacket in the photo below.)

Not only did I have concerns about getting rained on but I could also fall or come in last, way behind all the other paddlers. But just like the rain, these worries didn’t materialize. 

The race was a low-key event and not uber-competitive. There were some fast paddlers but I didn’t get any sense of elitism from the group. Paddlers remind me a lot of trail runners and mountain bikers. Laid back folk who like to enjoy their sport in the company of peers.

The Little Chop route was fun with the side wind blowing hard enough to make it challenging. There was a good vibe in the air and I got to see other types of paddleboards in action. Afterward we enjoyed a barbeque while listening to the Canucks game. I had an awesome time.

If you’ve never tried any sort of paddling sport I encourage you to give it a go. Shake up your fitness routine and try something new.

We’re lucky in the Lower Mainland to have not one but two paddle race series to choose from. The Big Chop races are held in Vancouver every second Thursday night. In North Vancouver, Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak hosts the long running Tuesday night races.

Big Chop Race Information

The race is open to all levels. If you’re a beginner you can even do an introductory clinic before any race. Boat rentals are also available if you don’t have your own.

Big Chop Summer Paddle Series

Big Chop Facebook Page

Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Race Information

These races have been going on for 13 years and are billed as North America’s largest weekly paddlesport race. Beginner clinics are available as well as boat rentals.

Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Tuesday Night Races

Deep Cove Kayak Facebook Page