WOLFEBORO — A water sport with Polynesian roots has arrived in the Lakes Region.
Michelle Clarke, 35, launched Full Moon Paddleboard this spring. Clarke is the only paddleboard instructor in New Hampshire certified by the World Paddle Association, she said.
Stand up paddleboarding, commonly known as “SUP” or “sweeping,” originated in the early 1960s when Hawaiian surfing instructors would stand on their long boards and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of tourists learning to surf, according to Clarke, who is also a yoga instructor with Earth and Sky Vinyasa Yoga Center.
“This is the next big thing in the fitness world,” said Clarke, a former teacher.
Prior to launching the business, Clarke researched the sport and found out what certifications, training and equipment were required. The Wolfeboro-based Wentworth Economic Development Corp. hooked her up with business consultants and some seed money.
With the outdoors and the lakes as her classroom, she didn't need an office and largely operates her business through online registrations and the yoga center.
The core-building, balance-enhancing sport is a low-impact sport with wide appeal. “I've given classes to everyone ages 6 to 80. It is ageless,” said Clarke after a recent paddleboard yoga class at Lake Wentworth. Several students chimed in, touting the benefits of the sport.
“You're just out there in nature. It takes you out of the studio,” said Michelle Agnew, who took a class with her sister, Melissa Lawlor.
Another student, Deb Lindsey, drives twice a week from Strafford to Wolfeboro for both classes — the yoga paddleboard, and the paddleboard excursion held right after. Lindsey says she had never taken a yoga class before she signed on with Full Moon Paddleboard.
“I picked up a brochure and thought, 'this just looks cool,' ” said Lindsey. She took advantage of a free paddleboard demonstration day that Clarke hosted in June.
“You bring your playful self to the sport,” she said. “It's so much fun.” It's not unusual for students to take a swim or jump into the water from their boards.
Lawlor said she runs, plays basketball and other sports, and that paddleboarding provides her with athletic balance.
Another element of paddleboarding that the women enjoy is the serenity of the lake.
There are no mirrors and no audiences.
“It takes you outside the gym and gets them working with the elements, the sand, the water and the balance of the board, and even with the wind. It keeps the workout fresh,” Clarke said.
Full Moon Paddleboard offers a variety of workouts — some with, some without boards — all held on Mondays and Thursdays, rain or shine, at Albee Beach on Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro. A barefoot circuit-training workout is held outdoors from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on Monday, and 7 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. on Thursday.
Standup Paddleboard Yoga is offered from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday, and 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays; fitness paddleboard excursions are held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Guided paddleboard excursions are also held on Sundays and on evenings during the full moon. Call Clarke at 731-8276 for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.