About SUP Joburg
SUP Joburg is a group of passionate SUPPERS (Stand Up Paddle Boarders) that have a craving to SUP in the concrete jungle of Joburg. To most people’s surprise, the Emmarentia dam offers a space of peace and fun. Water water water! SUP Joburg’s mission is simple and that is to get as many people on the water, Stand Up Paddling, as possible. To give you a taste of SUP, SUP Joburg hosts free demo days once a month as well as host a series of fun races to challenge and strengthen your love for Stand Up Paddling.
SUP Joburg is made up of three branches;
- SUPFitness which offers lessons, rentals, SUP Parties and corporate team building
- Yoga Works which offers SUP Yoga at Emmarentia Dam, and
- The JOZI AMANZI SUP CLUB who gets together to train and race all over Gauteng.
We tried out a SUPFitness hour long lesson.
Sup Joburg is based out of the Dabulamanzi Canoe Club at Emmarentia Dam.
R200 -R400 per hour depending on whether you just hire a paddle board or get a class. We did a group class which is R300 per person per hour. Their pricing options can be found here.
There is a changeroom with a shower and toilet, but access is limited. You get access when doing lessons or for parties / events booked there. If you hire a board to paddle yourself, there is no access. Despite having access, we didn’t use the changeroom. We came in the clothing we paddled with and because we didn’t fall in and get wet, wedidn’t need to change. There are lockers inside the changeroom which you can) to lock valuables away. Bring a lock (much like you would at gym), or simply keep them hidden in your car.
Come in clothing that you don’t mind getting wet and that won’t slip off you. We wore swimming / running shorts with bikini bottoms under them, sport bras and tank tops. Other people simply wore swimsuits. You paddle barefoot and your feet do get wet, so flipflops are the best footwear option for getting there and going home in. You also need to bring a towel and a change of clothing, in case you fall in or decide to go for a dip. Sunscreen is a must – it’s hot and there is no shade on the dam. I would leave behind any jewellery and sunglasses or hats that can easily fall off you and get lost.
Good for beginners?
Yes, it requires balance and upper body strength (although Anja taught us how to move our whole body, so we didn’t only use our arms); but you start slow and only progress when you’re feeling comfortable. You’re also able to go at your own pace. If you can stand for an hour, you can do this. It’s the type of exercise that doesn’t feel like a workout and rather like a really nice hour spent on the water. In that way it’s a part exercise, part fun recreational activity which is an awesome change to the many non-water based fitness offerings available.
Anja Burger was our instructor and we instantly liked her. She was friendly and incredibly helpful prior to our lesson with instructions on what to bring. She was patient, friendly, a great teacher and offered to take pictures for us. Paddling with her felt like paddling with a friend.
There were 3 of us in the lesson, and most lessons average between 3-4 people. As it’s a lesson, not a class, a group of friends will usually book a lesson together. The limit is 20 people.
Light. Due to the nature of the sport, while it is exercise it’s not like a class where you’re very well aware the whole time you’re exercising, and you don’t sweat heavily. The sweat factor largely came in due to being in the sun, if you’re paddling hard you may get sweatier.
There’s a very laid-back feel to the SUP Joburg lessons, which perfectly matches the sport. Lessons are booked by appointment only and happen mostly over the weekend. They are an hour long.
After parking and heading to the grass of the Canoe Club, we met Anja. After leaving our towels, extra clothing and flops in the car we made our way to the edge of the dam where our Paddle Boards were. The lesson began with an introduction and the “unspoken” rules of the right of way in the Dam – good to know so you don’t get in the way of others.
Next, we did some warm up stretches. We focused on arms and shoulders – the muscles we’d be using the most. Anja then explained the boards and paddles we were to be using.
The boards are those used by SUP Yoga, they’re wider and more stable – making them great for beginners. Once you get better, there are narrower boards that move faster and are easier to turn but they also require more balance. After showing us where in the board we were to stand and demonstrating how to go from kneeling to standing once on water, Anja measured us for paddles. The paddles are adjustable, and she altered them to be more comfortable for our individual heights.
It was now time to get onto the water. With her help we made our way onto the water, kneeling on the boards. She started us off kneeling, to allow us to get our balance and get a feel before moving to standing up. Once we were all in the water, we made our way (still on our knees) to the “Duck Pond” across the dam. There, where the water was calmer, Anja showed us how to paddle properly and in a straight line as well as how to do both wide and sharp turns. After mastering those moves, it was time to stand up. Standing up was easier than I thought it would be and I didn’t feel like I was losing balance. Once we were all comfortable standing, we practiced strokes and turns and then paddled across the dam.
SUPing is one of those sports that can feel like just a fun recreational activity and not exercise; but it’s work. It’s a great arm and upper body workout as you learn to take strong strokes. Your core is constantly activated to help balance you and even though you move your legs little, they’re constantly activated and moving slightly to keep you balanced. Most of the hour was spent SUPing on the side of the dam closest to the Canoe club but we did do a full lap around the dam, chatting the whole way.
The hour moved by fast, and it was incredibly fun. While I was aware of the work my body was doing, it didn’t feel like work or like hard exercise, it’s not the type of class where you’re counting down the minutes, it’s the class that goes by in a blink.
It was nice being outside in the sun and on the water, a refreshing change. It was especially enjoyable rediscovering a part of Joburg that had been such a big part of our childhood; but that we never go back to and honestly didn’t realise how much there is to do there and how well kept the Emmerentia Dam still is.
After our afternoon spent SUPing in what felt like an oasis in the middle of the city, I’d like to go back there more often and spend more time on the water, SUPing. Wether you want to do it for exercise (you’re able to hire a board anytime during the week and get out onto the water) or are looking for something fun to do in Joburg, I’d highly recommend SUP Joburg.
Tips to know before class
Don’t forget your sunscreen – it’s hot, you’ll be in the sun and there’s no shade. You don’t want to burn. Wear something that you know will stay put if you fall in and leave your valuables at home. Also bring a bottle of cold water for after. You don’t realise how thirsty you get being out in the sun for an hour moving until you finish.
Should Anyone Avoid SUP Joburg?
If you can’t swim or don’t feel comfortable around water, SUP Joburg isn’t for you. However, they do offer life jackets. They also do take kids as young as ten out on the water with life jackets.
For more details on SUP Joburg and to book a lesson click here
Images by Nutreats
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