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Janani Whitfield photo
Janani Whitfield photo
Standup paddle-board instructor Alyssa Kozicky enters the waters at Lac Bellevue during a paddle-board class.
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Local class drums up interest

Aug 05, 2014 12:30 pm | By Janani Whitfield | St. Paul Journal

The water is calm and inviting, and the rainy day has brightened into a warm, sun-filled evening. A group of four people signed up for standup paddle boarding lessons slip into the water at Lac Bellevue, and clamber onto their boards, kneeling as they row into deeper water. When it comes to standing up on their board, one or two are up in seconds, while the others take a minute longer, but soon enough, all four are standing and gliding easily into the depths of the lake.

For Scott Faucher, this was a natural fit a workout while relaxing on the water.

Faucher had been taking spin classes with fitness instructor Alyssa Kozicky, and when he heard she was a certified standup paddling instructor, he thought to himself, Im doing that.

Kozicky is a great instructor, he says, and as with her spin class, she takes pains to make sure everyone is confident in what they are doing. We had a pretty phenomenal time out on the water, he said, adding the group felt confident enough even to try yoga on their boards. Being out on the water made the yoga an even more difficult workout, he said, but the quiet sounds of nature and lapping water made for a relaxing experience.

Chantal Briere had first heard about local stand-up paddle boarding lessons through social media, and after making some inquiries, found out who offered the class and where, and signed up, along with a friend.

Its more and more popular, she says, adding shes heard of people going out to stand-up paddleboard, even taking their pets along for the ride.

You can go and have a good time with your dog, she says, laughing. I dont have a dog . . . but its a future plan.

Kozicky first tried standup paddle boarding on Vancouver Island six years ago.

I was working for a surf company that was introducing paddle boarding to the masses at the time, she said. When she came home, it seemed natural to continue.

It was something I could do on the water that I didnt need an ocean for, and it was a good workout and its relaxing too, she said. Since then, her family has been involved with the sport. We got boards and away we went.

The concept originated in Hawaii, with the local lifeguards using the boards while teaching surf lessons or while watching the beach area, she says. However, it wasnt until 2008 until it began to be promoted in Canada and the U.S., with Kozicki saying, Its just been growing continuously. This year Ive seen a huge boom in it.

When launching the idea locally, Kozicky was hoping to start with two classes, with fingers crossed I could get enough people. But the idea caught on, and she now has four full classes and a waiting list in St. Paul itself.

People of all ages and abilities have given the learn to standup paddle board class a try, with Kozicky noting she even had a 67-year-old try it out. She did great; she loved it.

People may be nervous or apprehensive to start, but the class starts on dry land, with Kozicky instructing people on how to stand up or make turns, and other fundamentals. They may also try standing up on a board balanced on bosu balls, to learn how to balance on an unstable surface until their confidence is boosted.

I try and get everyone set up on the land and then when we go on the water, were good to go.

For those interested in trying the sport, Kozicky supplies everything from the 10 ft. flotation board, the oars and the lifejackets.

You basically just have to show up and youre ready to go.

One lesson on how to standup paddleboard costs $55, or people can sign up for four-week or six-week yoga lessons for a separate fee. She is hoping to add August standup paddle boarding lessons to the mix, as well as potentially sunset or full moon tours of the lake, depending on interest. For more information on lessons, rentals or any other of the services Kozicky offers, people can check out her website at www.lakelandlifestyle.ca.

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