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Introducing PaddleFit, Your Guide to a Healthier Lifestyle

By David Boegaard

Brody Welte, founder and owner of PaddleFit, discovered stand up paddling (SUP) the same way he catches waves -- being in the right place at the right time, then just going with the flow. Welte spent more than 15 years as a fitness instructor specializing in outdoor activities. He first tried SUP in 2007, while exploring the world, surfing and teaching. "I was living on Hawaii and I was instantly hooked," says Welte. While he saw the future immediately, it took time to master the new technique and develop a training program. "After I tried SUP for the first time," says Welte, "I then spent the next couple of years developing PaddleFit and launched it in 2009 in St Petersburg, FL."

What made stand up paddling so different? From a surfer's perspective, it's just fun. As you guide your paddleboard through the water, you get to see the world from on high, surrounded by water, gliding across the surface.

And from the standpoint of a fitness instructor, stand up paddling was a revolution. It provides a great core workout without feeling like work, Welte suggests. "Being on a SUP challenges your balance, can be both an upper body and lower body workout, works the core and is a great conditioning tool." That's why Welte thinks SUP is the perfect sport to help people break out of the tedium that often overtakes exercise programs."The message that is out there from the fitness industry is to bring people indoors and workout. My message is that you can have a ton of fun being outdoors and getting fit at the same time."

While the benefits of stand up paddling are obvious, it took a long-standing fitness instructor to see that there would be an increased need for instruction (coaching) as the sport grew. That's why Welte created PaddleFit. Welt emphasizes that "PaddleFit is more than just fitness on a SUP." PaddleFit's classes teach proper technique, safety, and fitness. "We have training programs that tailor to the novice paddler as well as the elite athlete," Welte says.

PaddleFit has become the go-to name in stand up paddle instruction (coaching). "Right now we have over 1200 coaches in 21+ countries running their own SUP businesses teaching the PaddleFit methods." And Welte believes that even with the success of the sport, the wave has a long way to go yet before it breaks. "As the sport of SUP continues to grow PaddleFit will be there for the coaching and training of the industry."

At the heart of PaddleFit's approach is their focus on the essentials. "The first thing that we do is to teach people how to paddle," Welte emphasizes. They want everyone to be able to have a great time getting fit, from their very first experience stand up paddling. PaddleFit focuses on good form to make sure novices have the skills they'll need to stay safe on the water.

After the essentials are taken care of, there are as many kinds of instruction as there are kinds of stand up paddling. Some prefer to catch waves, while others prefer a gentle trip down the river or a race through an obstacle course. PaddleFit has instructions (coaching) to help with any goals and any level, says Welte. "We have land based fitness classes on the beach, we have fitness classes on the water as well as race training programs. So it really depends on what the client wants to do and their goals."

Clearwater and St. Petersburg have warm weather year-round and beautiful oceans, perfect for novice and expert paddlers, both. Before you go sign up for that gym membership, suggests Welte, "ask yourself, do you want to run on a sweaty nasty treadmill or go paddling and get a better workout?"

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