Leigh Claxton started On Board Fitness last year, a fitness Stand Up Paddle Board program with Yoga and Core Fitness. The staff of supthebay.com sat with her at SeaTrek in Sausalito to get to her some more.
How did you come up with the idea of SUP yoga and fitness?
I began using the boards as a platform to re-establish balance with head injury patients. Watching their rapid progress and the subliminally forced inner core balance that took place, I decided to try an experiment with fitness on the boards. Having worked with all levels of Yoga and Pilates students, I figured this would be a medium to take them to a whole new level where they actually would be deeper in asana (pose) than even they were aware. And fun!
What is unique about SUP yoga compare to yoga on land?
In Sup Yoga, the floor is moving beneath you. You are using more balance than you would on a solid surface. You can’t let your strong side do all the work or the board will tip. It forces you to balance from within. The more your body is put into a center or “core” isolation, the more it will begin to use these muscles readily and for all movements.
Do you use any special gear, boards, paddles…?
The boards I use are very stable with extended decking. The paddles are standard, extendable SUP paddles. Students wear whatever they would wear to a yoga class. Throughout the winter or on cold mornings, they bring a non cotton sweatshirt.
Do you ever fall in? Do people fall in?
I have never fallen in during class. I fell in once during a photo shoot doing a headstand on a wave. Ha! I have had over 500 students practice SUP Yoga. 4 have fallen in. Those are pretty good odds.
Do “students” need to have practiced yoga before or not?
I love having brand new yogis. Yoga on the boards is such a perfect way to help students understand where they are going with their practice. I have had all levels. It is easier to teach many levels on the boards than in a studio.
Tell us more about your SUP fitness program?
As a trainer of endurance athletes for many years, I again can transfer the whole core element to fine tune performance. We do intervals, aerobic sprints, abdominal work and upper body strengthening. I train many of my competitive mountain bikers and trail runners on the boards.
I heard your family is pretty active in the outdoors. What is family vacation like?
Never boring! We all ski, surf, climb, bicycle, hike, white water raft and snowshoe. My passion is windsurfing, and my three children are all game to come along for that, although they now would rather SUP and kite board. Costa Rica, Mexico and Wyoming probably top our list.
When did you start SUPing?
I first SUP’d 3 years ago on Lake Tahoe. I started SUP training with clients shortly after that.
You favorite paddle/ spot in the San Francisco Bay?
Hmm. That’s a tough one. I had an amazing paddle by myself out to the brother islands off of San Rafael one day. The water was flat and a very clear, jade green color. There were thousands of beautiful jellies, all bright colors. I got out to one of the islands (which is a bird sanctuary) and I felt like I was in the Amazon. There were fish, birds, flowers, sea plants and beautiful rocks. On an SUP board you stand higher than you would in a boat or kayak. The light behind and above you gives you much more depth into the water. It was probably only a four mile roundtrip paddle and I felt like I had been on an exotic vacation.
Favorite SUP memory(ies)?
All days in Richardson Bay! No two have ever been the same. We have seen so much sea life, surfed a Tsunami, gotten to know the live aboards, found the giant baby sculpture and play with the seals every time. This past Sunday during our SUP Yoga class as we drifted among the anchored boats, a lovely gentleman came along and played acoustical guitar while we did class. He sang about mermaids and yoga angels. How much better than that can it get? And yes, guys do SUP Yoga too!
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Yoga
Learn yoga on a Stand Up Paddleboard in our protected marina and Richardson Bay. Experience the challenge of balancing on the moving water and strengthen your core and leg muscles. The ability to deepen your yoga practice is increased and some find poses are actually easier to achieve while on the water.
UP Core Fitness
After easily learning the basics of Stand Up Paddling we’ll add core exercises to our morning workout. Using many standard land exercises you will be amazed at the benefit of doing them while balancing on the board. A series of classes is suggested for maximum results. All levels welcome.
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