A first timer’s guide to… SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding)

Jamie Glassman takes to the water armed with a paddle and a desire to stay dry
A first timer’s guide to… SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding)
July 10, 2016   |    Jamie Glassman


Probably the worst abbreviation in sport – just behind NASCAR – is SUP. Just spell the whole thing out: ‘stand up paddleboarding’. There, that wasn’t difficult. And how lucky that SUP is so much better than its name.

After sweeping across the world, SUP has finally landed on the Thames.

So how does it work? A paddleboard is a long, wide surfboard even this idiot managed to balance on eventually. The only other equipment is a long paddle you use to propel yourself and to steer.

SUP undoubtedly gets you fit, but this is more leisure than fitness. I can imagine it being incredibly meditative once you get the hang of it. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to surfing through London.


Active360 has river trips of 90+ minutes from Kew, Putney, Brentford and Paddington, with taster sessions on Wednesday lunchtimes in the Paddington Basin. So it was here I went for my first experience, under the care of marvellous Finnish SUP instructor, Anu.

The headline number you need is 10% – that’s the proportion of first timers who fall in. The main reason not to is the desperate desire to avoid entertaining the lunching workers who you can tell are all willing you to do just that.

But ha! All our group managed to stay dry and avoid giving Paddington Basin’s rats any new companions.

Mastering SUP, like so many things, seems to be about relaxing. Another lesson is all I needed, assured Anu, and I will certainly be back to prove her right. Either that or the crowd will get the blood they yearn for.

What would you like Jamie to try next? Tweet us @Balance LDN

Have a go!

All abilities

£56 intro lesson

2 hours

Read more: The first-timer’s guide to hot yoga

15_New Shoots comic flt

Mind Mapping

This technique has been shown to be a far more effective way to tap into creative thinking
than a linear list. It’s also a better format for note-taking, and if you use a combination of
words and images you are six times more likely to remember what you’ve written.

Calm by Michael Acton Smith is published by Penguin Life, £6.99

Do you want more Balance in your life?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get a bi-weekly wellbeing fix, straight to your inbox