Getting on board with SUP

Written and summitted to the Trentonian Newspaper in August 2016 

by Carly Baxter

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is the world’s fastest growing watersport. Why? Because it’s fun! My first exposure to SUP was on vacation in Maui in 2013. I watched people from all walks of life gliding across the water. It looked like a good workout and it looked relatively easy, compared to say surfing or waterskiing.


Although my interests were piqued, I didn’t try Stand Up Paddleboarding in Maui. In fact, I didn’t get around to trying SUP until a couple of weeks ago. Having never been big into paddle sports, I wasn’t driven to find out how or where to try this intriguing new sport. “It looks fun, but it’s for other people,” I told myself.


Luckily for me, Cheryl Borecky, owner/operator of Go Active makes learning how to Stand Up Paddleboard easy for the citizens of Quinte West.


“Anyone can do it,” said Borecky. “I’ve had people as young as one and as old as 85 out on a paddleboard. No experience is necessary.”


Go Active is an outdoor adventure company that runs SUP lessons and tours in the summer, snowshoe adventures in the winter, and indoor and outdoor ParentFit classes year round.


So on a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I participated in one of Go Active’s Learn to SUP classes. We drove to Little Lake in Brighton where we met up with Borecky and four other wannabe Stand Up Paddleboarders.


Borecky talked us through the SUP basics, including feet placement and paddle technique, before we carried our boards and equipment (all supplied by Go Active) out onto the water.

We all started on our knees and, as we became more comfortable, tried getting up into the standing position. Borecky says it’s not overly common for learners to fall into the water, but our group must have been the exception. Almost everyone made a splash at some point during the lesson.


“Getting up was definitely the hardest part,” said Tom Shutt. “But I like being in the water, so instead of worrying a lot about trying to keep my balance, if I felt like I was going down, I just jumped in. That’s part of the fun.”


One’s physical fitness can sometimes determine how quickly they get the hang of Stand Up Paddleboarding, however Borecky says that’s not always the case.


“Some less fit people jump right on and say ‘this is easy,’ while I have a marathon runner who is still very shaky after a few times on the board. The brain needs to figure out how to switch on the required muscles and that sometimes just takes time.”


Whether Stand Up Paddleboarders start out physically fit or not, regular SUPing will develop core strength, arm strength from paddling, and strong legs from maintaining balance on the board. It is a total body workout.


Go Active also offers SUPFit classes for the more advanced Stand Up Paddleboarder looking for the extra challenge of a cardiovascular workout. Picture CrossFit on water. There are also the equally-enticing SUP Yoga, as well as Couples Date Nights and Parent & Tot classes for those looking for family fun.


Borecky started doing SUP in British Columbia about eight years ago and has been canoeing and kayaking for more than 15 years. She has been active her entire life, is a teacher by trade and has a degree in Outdoor Recreation.


Borecky and her husband, Martin Tessier, lived in the Rocky Mountains and when Tessier’s military career brought them to Trenton nearly four years ago, people thought they wouldn’t like it here. “But we came here and saw all this water and green space and we loved it,” said Borecky.


Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Borecky always knew she would eventually be a business owner; she just wasn’t sure what that may look like. In 2014, about a year after having her son Chason, Borecky took the plunge with Go Active.


She felt there was an unmet niche to assist parents and families in the area who wanted to be active but needed help getting there. She knew that the first thing busy parents usually push to the side is being active and spending time outdoors, so she wanted to show them it’s not only possible to stay active, but it can create connectedness in families.


“I had no expectations when I started the business,” said Borecky. “I started out with minimal equipment and created my own website because I didn’t want to put the money into a business that may not take off. But every day I’m amazed.”


As Go Active’s programs become more popular, the company is expanding to meet client needs. However, Borecky is careful to keep the small community feel. “We don’t want to get big and bring 20 people out on the water at a time and disturb the residents,” said Borecky. “That’s not what we’re trying to achieve.”


The majority of GO Active’s programs take place in Trenton, Brighton, Prince Edward County and Tweed, but there is the potential to expand.


So, what did I think of my first time SUPing? It was fantastic. There is something serene about being on the open water with a gentle breeze, surrounded by a handful of like-minded people looking to find fun in fitness. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to try something new and enjoyable.