Trying Paddleboarding and SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has been on my must-do list for a long time. Despite the name of my blog, my paddling only usually extends to swimming. I finally got the chance to try another watersport when Ruth Tongue invited a group of bloggers to the launch of her SUP Pilates classes at WakeUp Docklands.

WakeUp Docklands has a relaxed beachy vibe to it, with wooden shacks and decking next to the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock. On such a gorgeous afternoon, it actually felt like we were a world away from central London.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Split into smaller groups, we began with an introduction to SUP technique with Jason Bergin from Urban Recovery. He began by explaining the basics including how to hold the paddle and move it through the water, plus how to turn and stop. The boards were actually inflatable, so we were careful to not puncture them on the sharp stones of the beach.

We started paddling in a kneeling position making our way towards a sheltered area of the dock. SUP has always looked easy from afar, but I soon discovered that the technique is more difficult than I realised. I seemed to be always holding my paddle backwards and cruising straight towards an obstacle!

Moving into a standing position took a lot of concentration. One foot at a time placing them parallel and slowly standing up, keeping my body centred over the board and gaze towards the horizon. Finding my balance and standing with slightly bent knees, I tried to engage my core muscles as I steered the board around the dock. Once I was up I didn’t want to go back down again! I’ve swam in the dock several times at the London Triathlon, so I wasn’t too worried about falling in- I just wasn’t sure how I’d get back on the board again.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

The 45 minutes flew past and soon it was time to head back to the beach. I’ll definitely come back for another SUP session as my technique could use some more work!

SUP Pilates

After a short break for juice and energy balls thanks to CPRESS, we regrouped for SUP Pilates with Ruth. I felt more confident climbing onto the board after our earlier session. These boards were a slightly different size and shape and were anchored to stop us from drifting too far away.

Ruth lead us through a workout which included traditional Pilates exercises such as leg circles, hundreds, roll ups and side planks. The moves were made even more challenging by the movement of the board on the water. It took a lot of concentration and coordination to move from one position to the next without capsizing the board. Although fairly intense, the session was very relaxing with the water gently lapping against the board and the sun beaming down.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

I did struggle to hear some of Ruth’s instructions when we drifted further away, so I had to watch her movements to understand the next exercise. I also have a bit of a bird phobia, so I was distracted by the flapping geese and goslings who wanted to join in our session!

I love the idea of taking Pilates outside of the studio and into the outdoors surrounded by water. Ruth’s classes are running throughout the summer on weekends and weekday evenings- check out her website for more details.

Have you ever tried SUP or SUP Pilates?


  1. October 26, 2017 / 8:41 am

    Wow, you really did cram in a lot in one day! Impressive.

    Most users spend at least spend some days perfecting SUP paddling THEN progressing to yoga/pilates. Kudos to you 🙂

    And it looks like you got the perfect day for it too….

    • November 25, 2017 / 8:28 pm

      It was a lovely day and we did get a lot done! I’ve had the opportunity to do SUP again a few times and put into practice what we learned

  2. June 15, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    I’ve always wanted to have a go at this but have been far too scared. In the right sort of weather it does look like a lot of fun! My balance is so poor I think that I’d be guaranteed to fall in. Does the class come with lifeguards 😉

    • June 17, 2017 / 11:21 am

      LOL! The water is only a metre deep for the pilates class, so it wouldn’t matter if you did fall in! We had lifejackets for the SUP 🙂

  3. June 14, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    It looks so exciting….and tricky! My balance is SO bad, I really need to work on my core strength to improve it. It’s like a vicious circle.
    You look like you were having an amazing time despite the birds! I have a fish phobia so I think this may not be for me…!

    • June 17, 2017 / 11:22 am

      Fish don’t really bother me, I swim with them all the time! Yes paddling is a really good core workout!

  4. June 12, 2017 / 8:22 pm

    ooh, I would definitely give SUP pilates a go! Even though I’d probably fall in, especially if there’s any planking involved… I haven’t been on a SUP for a few years now, but I remember it got a lot easier once I realised I shouldn’t lock my knees. Wobble, wobble

    • June 17, 2017 / 11:30 am

      Yes exactly, I was tempted to grip with my toes and lock my knees, but it’s all about being relaxed

  5. June 12, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    It looks so tough! I think I would struggle to balance on a mat let alone a surf board! But good fun and nice in the warmer weather.

    • June 17, 2017 / 11:31 am

      It’s not as tough as it looks, you would be fine!

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