Learn SUP Pilates – Part 1

Learn SUP Pilates – Part 1

An introduction to Pilates on a stand up paddle board. In part 1 we go over core Pilates principles and show you 3 simple moves to learn SUP Pilates.

Some of you might regularly practice Pilates, but have you ever done Pilates on a stand up paddle board? SUP Pilates is a relatively new practice that is quickly gaining popularity as stand up paddle boarding participation continues to explode. Getting out on the water offers up the ultimate environment for developing the core Pilates principles while providing some great scenery. Continue on with us as we review the history and core principles, then show you a few basic moves to learn SUP Pilates today.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates (pronounced pi-LAH-teez) was developed in the 1920′s and is named after the creator, Joseph H. Pilates. As a young man, he designed a variety of contraptions using old hospital beds and springs in a successful effort to overcome his own disabilities. Inspired by his rehabilitation, as well as his interests in gymnastics, diving, body building and self-defense, Joseph Pilates designed fitness equipment that uses springs for resistance and developed hundreds of exercises to challenge a person at almost any fitness level. The method quickly became popular with many people, ranging from those who are mostly sedentary to those who excel in athletics. 

 “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

– Joseph H. Pilates

The six Pilates principles of Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breath, and Flow are typically developed through the dedicated instruction of a certified Pilates professional, but once mastered, they can be applied to every sport and athletic endeavor, as well as to day to day activities. The most common benefits of Pilates training include:

  • increased strength and muscle tone
  • increased flexibility and joint mobility
  • improved posture, balance and coordination
  • increased bone density and muscle endurance
  • decreased back pain
  • a flatter stomach and a leaner physique

Learn SUP Pilates

Developing Pilates inspired exercises for the stand up paddle board helped me fall in love with both Pilates matwork and my city (Chicago) all over again. When I’m practicing Pilates in the studio I’ve owned since 2002, I can’t help but be slightly distracted by the fact that I’m at work. When I’m floating on Lake Michigan, with Chicago’s towering skyline & it’s related stressors far off in the distance, I can focus completely on the movements, my form, my breathing, and the warmth of the sun above. In the summer, I strive to begin each week with a water session. It sets the tone for the whole week!

As a general rule, when you’re practicing Pilates you use the arms and the legs as “props” to assist in strengthening the core muscles. In the examples provided here, I will also be using the paddle as an additional prop. Therefore, the overall challenge comes from the instability of the paddle board on the water, working together with the added resistance of the paddle, the arms and the legs.

The Double Leg Stretch

Learning SUP Pilates - Double leg stretch1Learning SUP Pilates - Double leg stretch 2

Lie down on your back on the paddle board. Round up your head and shoulders, tuck the knees into your chest, and straighten your arms so that the paddle is directly above your ankles. Inhale as you extend the arms and legs away from your center. Then exhale as you scoop the abdominals in and return to the start position. For beginners, extend the arms and legs straight up towards the sky. As you advance, lower the arms and legs closer to the board during extension.

The Arch Up

Learning SUP Pilates - Arch-up 1Learning SUP Pilates - Arch-up 2

Lie down on your belly on the paddle board. Extend the arms (with the paddle) and legs away from your center, shoulder/hip width apart. Inhale as you raise the arms and legs into an arched back position, exhale as you return to the board.

Standing Saw

Learning SUP Pilates - Standing saw1Learning SUP Pilates - Standing saw 2

Stand tall with the feet wide on the board and the arms wide holding the paddle above the head. Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you slowly twist the right hand towards the left foot. Inhale as you return to the tall position, then exhale twisting in the opposite direction. Be sure to twist from the torso, and not just from the shoulders.

Stay tuned as we expand our Learn SUP Pilates series and showcase more intermediate and advanced poses. For the full catalog of Pilates exercises on the Stand Up Paddle Board, you can purchase ‘Pilates Expanded Stand Up Paddle Board’ by Eme Cole.

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