Outrigger canoe paddling provides a total body workout – even your legs will feel like they have been working. Picture: Richard Thomson
I LOVE to try new things where fitness and the outdoors are concerned, so I immediately jumpedat the chance to have a go atoutrigger canoe paddling recently.
All I really knew of the sport was that Lisa Curry-Kenny did it, and made it look easier than I expected it was going to be.
So along we went – a friend and me – to a come and try day with the Newcastle Outrigger Canoe Club at Horseshoe Beach.
The first thing that struck me was how nice and welcoming the club members were and the second was how unsinkable the canoes looked, which was a relief as I always feel a little nervous out of my depth and on the water.
As we waited to get started, club members explained their training schedules and different races they did, including one 10-hour race at night along the Hawkesbury River. It sounded amazing but also extremely challenging.
One explained the beauty of early morning and evening training, seeing the sun rise and set while on the harbour.
After being given a demonstration of our paddling requirements we were summoned to the canoes and away we went.
Five paddlers sit single file in the canoes with a steerer at the rear controlling the direction of the vessel.
We were straight into it – 15 strokes one side then 15 on the other in a repetitive fashion.
After a couple of sets I found myself thinking a couple of things:
1. ‘‘I am going to be feeling my arms, shoulders and core tomorrow’’, and 2. ‘‘How would anyone do this for 10 hours straight?’’
‘‘Pure adrenalin’’, our steerer explained, before pointing us towards the harbour entrance to give a glimpse of what it would be like to be out in the open water.
‘‘The beauty of Newcastle Harbour,’’ she said, ‘‘is that there was always something happening.’’
And indeed during our time on the water there was. Tugs went out to bring in a ship and we got a birds eye view, which was pretty amazing to see.
As we gained confidence we were instructed to work a little harder. As my arms groaned I thought how good this must be for them.
One of the club members actually told me outrigger canoe paddling was perfect for toning ladies’ arms.
It was one of life’s mysteries for many women and I had found it, and it is also a great selling point for giving it a go.
Overall I really enjoyed it.
I felt it was a total body workout – even the legs felt like they had been working.
It also seems a great way to meet people, and I liked that there was an avenue to pursue competition if desired or people could just join up to improve their health and fitness and for the social aspect.
It was definitely harder than I thought it would be and required more co-ordination than I had, but I think it would appeal to a range of ages and fitness levels and would be great for workplace team-building exercises.
For more information on outrigger canoe paddling in our area, go to newcastleoutrigger.com.au.
I thought it relevant that this week’s spring fitness campaign session was for the rower:
5minutes at a constant warm-up pace; 5minutes of intervals x 15seconds hard: 45 easy recovery; 5minutes x 30seconds hard: 30seconds easy recovery; 5minutes x 45seconds hard; 15 easy.
Renee Valentine is a qualified personal trainer and mother of three. firstname.lastname@example.org