Paddleboarding takes hold on Tanners Lake

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 6, 2012 - 6:34 PM

In cooperation with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the Minnesota Stand Up Paddleboarders Association is offering lessons this summer on Tanners Lake.

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Dave Englund gives a paddleboarding lesson to Cindy Terry on Tanners Lake in Oakdale. “It’s sneaky exercise because people enjoy this,” Englund said.

Cindy Terry had everything she needed to join the legions of folks who have taken up stand-up paddleboarding in recent years: a life jacket, appropriate swim- and footwear, hat, sunscreen and a sense of adventure.

She even had her own board, a $1,795, top-of-the-line Pau Hana Crossfit that she bought after she recently watched a demonstration that convinced her to give the sport a try. She just needed some hands-on know-how.

Terry got it from Minnesota Stand Up Paddleboarders Association. The nonprofit has teamed up with the Oakdale Parks and Recreation Department to offer 90-minute lessons by appointment this summer for ages 12 and older at Tanners Lake in Oakdale.

"I figured I'd better take a lesson before I build up bad habits," said Terry before her lesson on a recent Monday. "I need to learn how to move on it, how to turn and control it."

Lessons can be stressful at the outset as participants learn how to gain their balance on the 12- to 18-foot boards and also work on the proper paddling mechanics, said instructor Dave Englund. But once they master that, "the smiles come out and they start having fun. It's really a ball."

Englund, an Oakdale resident, wasn't much of a water rat until his wife, Cherie, introduced him to the sport a few years ago. Now he's an advocate and he's trying to get others out on the water.

"It's a phenomenal experience," he said. "If people try it, they will love it and will be addicted to the feel of being on water. It's fun. It's sneaky exercise because people enjoy this."

Paddleboarding seems to be more popular on west metro lakes, Englund said, but he wanted to bring the sport to his hometown and asked Oakdale for permission.

"I thought it was a great opportunity to bring this program to the east metro," said Julie Williams, Oakdale's recreation supervisor. "It's also a chance to showcase Tanners Beach."

Terry, of Robbinsdale, had watched paddleboarders make their way across Medicine Lake in Plymouth and thought it looked like fun. She's no stranger to the water -- she kayaks and paddles dragon boats -- but wanted to expand her aquatic adventures. She went to a demonstration at REI, an outdoor gear and sporting goods store. She bought a board and signed up for a 90-minute, one-on-one lesson from Englund.

Instruction for individuals or groups of as large as six people include everything from learning to balance, how to turn and control the board, how to move and the proper paddling techniques. The cost is $65 per person.

"A lot of people want to do it using a rounding motion like rowing, and that's wrong," Englund said. "We don't want anybody to injure rotator cuffs, so we spend a lot of time on body mechanics." Another common error? "People hold the paddle the wrong way."

While the paddleboarders association provides boards and life jackets for lessons, enthusiasts such as Terry who have their own can get tips for safely loading, unloading and transporting the boards, which are made of polyurethane foam and fiberglass cloth. They weigh from 32 to 40 pounds.

Englund also delivers messages on water ecology. Association members are active in water clean-up and have removed 1,200 tons of garbage from Twin Cities-area lakes this year, Englund said.

"Twenty years ago, this lake [Tanners] was on the state's impaired waters list," Englund said. "Now it's treated and is a little gem in the city."

And, it's a perfect urban place to learn how to paddleboard, he said, because with few boats, there are no wakes to navigate. That made it easier for Terry to get a handle on her newfound sport. She fell into the water a few times during her lesson, but soon was enjoying herself.

"I'm getting it," she said as she passed by the lake's fishing dock. "It's fun."

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039, Twitter: @timstrib

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