Paddle Healthy | SUP Barre, The Next Trend?
Sweet tea, scrumptious eats, and Southern hospitality aren't the only great finds of Virginia Beach; the bustling coastal city in southeastern Virginia is also the home of the next trend in standup paddling: SUP Barre. Created earlier this year by VB local, Whitney Fulton Lee, the activity blends our favorite watersport with the popular ballet-inspired workout, barre. Lee, an SUP enthusiast and barre instructor certified by Interactive Fitness Trainers of America, conceptualized the idea of SUP barre after getting into standup paddling just last year. Growing up on the water at Virginia Beach's Crystal Lake and surfing at the oceanfront, SUP came to Lee naturally. And, as her paddling progressed, she began yearning for a different type of workout that combined SUP with her other passion, barre.
"I'd started standup paddleboarding and was completely hooked; I loved the feeling of gliding across the water," says Lee. "I'd heard of SUP yoga before, but had never heard of anyone doing SUP barre. One day, I decided to try some pliés, pulses, and other barre moves on my board, using my paddle as a barre."
The result: the inception of a new niche in SUP that takes the barre instructor's knowledge and experience from teaching in-studio, to the water.
While barre is centered around a horizontal, fixed ballet bar, SUP barre utilizes the paddle as a vertical bar. For stability, and to keep from damaging the paddle blade, Lee turns the paddle upside-down, with handle meeting the center of the board. From there, students are ready to plié to perfection…Or, "Glide and shake," as Lee puts it.
Taking off from Narrows Beach in Cape Henry's historic First Landing State Park—where the country's first settlers (the Virginia Company) landed—the innovative Lee paddles with her groups of SUP Barre students across the narrow channel to a cove visible from the beach and put-in. There, Lee and her class throw anchor, she bumps up the tunes, and takes you from ballet's first position to third, with some killer core and lower-body burners throughout the hour-long session.
"We do a lot of pliés and pulses, with the first half of the class focusing more on standing barre moves, and the second half laying on our boards for the 'floor barre' moves," Lee says. "The workout is more challenging than in the studio, but it's still low-impact and fun—and those are the type of workouts I like because I want to be happy and enjoying myself when I workout."
SUP-newbie, Meredith Russell was apprehensive to try standup paddling, let alone ballet-inspired moves on an SUP.
First paddling across the channel on her knees, Russell was up on her feet at the start of the class, surprised by the stability of the 10-foot SUP-yoga board from Lee's personal fleet.
"Initially, I started paddling [across the channel] on my knees because I was nervous of falling, but I think standing up first during the SUP Barre workout really helped before actually standing up and paddling," Russell says. "After the class, I knew that if I could do the different exercises on the board—which required a lot of balance—I could definitely standup paddle across the channel; so, I think doing a class like Whitney's SUP Barre really helps beginners with balance," says Russell.
Lee offers board rentals from her fleet of specially-made GT Wider SUP yoga boards local board shaper, Michael Dolsey, of Norfolk, Virginia, however, she invites class-goers to bring their own SUP for a discounted price. She also offers private classes for parties of six or more and can focus on anything from her SUP barre classes, to a paddle along the coast, to strengthening.
Russell booked a private class on the spot as soon as our class concluded. "I'm really excited that I discovered SUP and SUP Barre," Russell says. "It's an activity I know my friends and family will enjoy doing in the outdoors, and I can't wait for my next class."
In September, Lee will complete her SUP yoga certification, and then plans to offer classes that combine SUP Barre and SUP yoga. But for now, she's just enjoying the growth of her new business: "After a couple 'Locals' Weekends' in early June, and hosting the local Wahine Surf Club, classes have been full," Lee says. "I've even had a student from England tell me I have a following there. It's been such a blessing to make my dream come true."
For more information, visit: SUPBarre.com
Or, contact Whitney Lee: SUPBarre@gmail.com