New Workout Mixes Paddle Boarding and Pilates on the Water

We've all been paddle boarding, but how do you know you're doing it right? We know, we know: all you need to do is paddle, right? Wrong.

Turns out there's a whole strategy to paddle boarding and it involves where your feet go on the board (arms width apart between the handle of the board), how and where you hold the paddle (over your head with over arms aligned at a bend so it's perfectly positioned), hand positioning (opposite, so left arm on top if you’re paddling to the right), and what parts of your body your using to pull yourself forward (the goal is to bend your knees and pull your legs up by fully extending your arms).

These are just some of the tricks and tips we learned from Melina Cherry at the first-ever Pilates/SUP H2O workout class this past Saturday. The class is the product of two insanely fit women who happen to own studios right next to each other in Coconut Grove. Christa Gurka and Cherry got to talking and thought why not start something up?

"I've only had my studio for a year," says Cherry. "Christa's been around for ages." Indeed, Pilates In the Grove has been open for five years, but Cherry's SUP The Workout is a one-of-a-kind studio. "We're the only ones to have these kind of indoor machines to paddle board inside. In the world." Of course you can always paddle board out on open water, but doing the movement in a studio and on a machine not only gives your arms and legs incredible tone and form, but it gets your core into tip top shape.

And since Pilates is all about utilizing your core and exercising control, it was a no-brainer to go from finding balance paddling to gaining control of your body on a board where you can fall into the water.

Pilates H2O takes place every Saturday morning at 9 a.m., so you can start your day off feeling good about yourself, getting some color, and connecting with nature. Held out on Biscayne Bay behind the U.S Sailing Center (2476 South Bayshore Dr., Miami), it's the first of its kind in Miami. Since the group is kept intimate, it feels like a boutique studio experience.

"We'd been talking about both wanting to do something outside and decided to go for it," says Gurka. "The hardest part was getting the boards." But they've got boards – about five currently and are working on more. Of course you can always bring your own, which drops the price from $55 to $30. And considering a single class at Gurka's studio will set you back $34 (without any type of package) and it's a 75-minute workout (30 of paddle boarding and 45 of Pilates), it's one helluva deal.

As for the class itself, it was pretty basic Pilates moves that even beginners can get in their first session. "This was the first one so we were working out the kinks and introducing everyone to it," says Gurka. "As we continue the paddle boarding will get harder and the Pilates portion will also get harder." Expect to work more on quieting the mind, connecting with the elements around you, opening up the breath, and greater alignment for the inner self.

Of course there are some things beyond either of Gurka's or Cherry's control, like Mother Nature. It actually rained during out class, and you'd be surprised just how nice it was, as long as you have the mindset (think of it as a plant being watered). That and the fact that after a little rain there's always a rainbow.

Pilates H2O takes places Saturdays at 9 a.m. behind the U.S. Sailing Center (2476 South Bayshore Dr., Miami). 
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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.