Paddling For Fitness with Thorfinn: High-Performance Kayaking & SUP in Maine

Camden to Rockport: Downwind SUP

Greg Barton is the only American to have ever won Olympic Gold in kayaking.  Not many Americans know that, unfortunately, and most Americans probably don’t even recall kayaking as an Olympic event.  Not so in much of the rest of the world.  In Europe, Australia and South Africa, kids with kayak paddles in their hands are as common as enrollment in PAL football or Little League in the States.

With so much of our population living on the coastlines, lakes and rivers, it’s a wonder paddling as a sport didn’t catch on sooner.  It's just not part of our culture yet, but there’s good news: serious kayaking and SUP is finally making some breakthroughs in the land of home runs and touchdowns.

Over the last ten years the number of kayak and paddleboard races has grown tremendously, as has the number of participants around the country.  More and more American paddlers are using their kayaks and paddleboards to stay fit, which often leads to participation in local and regional races.  The friendly competition provides both motivation and a strong sense of camaraderie.  The fitness paddling lifestyle also influences equipment choices; more focus is put on boats, boards and paddles built with more advanced construction methods and materials.  Lightweight and efficiency leads to more fun on the water – and off when you need to load your gear on a car!

Why Paddling?

It’s a full body workout.  Yes, kayaking and stand up paddling are full body exercises.  A common misconception is that it’s all in the arms; your arms are in fact secondary.  It’s your back, core and, to a lesser degree, your legs driving the power.  Learning how to coordinate all these muscle groups to produce a strong and refined paddle stroke takes a lot of practice, but will literally propel your paddling to another level.

Cardiovascular strength and conditioning.  Once you build up your sport specific strength, you’ll be able to work the heart rate zones just like your running or cycling workouts.

Low impact cross training.  No sore feet or knees – paddlesports are a great way to take the stress off your body and challenge new muscle groups while building your cardiovascular system.

No traffic!  Not only are you out of the gym, but you’re off the roads.  In addition to being a terrific workout, you are out on the water, which is always a good thing.  The air seems cleaner, the scenery is more inspiring, and the conditions change from day to day.  It’s a dynamic environment that invites you to go and work out.

It’s a challenge.  In addition to working out physically, there is a technique component to the exercise that adds another dimension to the sport.  Much like a golf swing, the kayak/SUP stroke relies on precision and efficiency, and the two take an equal amount of practice to implement properly.  The more you learn about the kayak/SUP stroke and work on “perfecting” yours, the more rewarding your workouts will become.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for more info on lessons, training and racing opportunities!  Contact us at 207-322-2293 or




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