If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to almost walk on water, wait no more. Linda Brown will get you gliding on water, courtesy of one of the hottest fitness and recreation trends to hit Michigan in recent years: stand-up paddleboards — or SUPs as they’re called.
SUPs are so hot, in fact, that Kid Rock paddled his to Belle Isle to announce his upcoming concert at Comerica Park. (If you haven’t already, click on the video above to see him in action.)
Brown is a Hartland High School grad who found herself feeling a bit at sea, so to speak, after returning to Livingston County in 2008 after years living — and surfing — in California.
“I missed surfing so much,” Brown said.
Her time in California included working in the surf industry, and Brown kept in touch with all her surfing friends via Facebook.
One of those Facebook friends posted a photo of himself on a stand-up paddleboard in Thailand while on vacation. Brown fell in love with the board and decided she could sell SUPs in Michigan, “state of 11,000 lakes,” she said.
Brown is now representing Hovie SUP, a company that manufactures the boards in the U.S. out of recycled materials, all in keeping with the “peaceful, motivated, inspired” surfing lifestyle she loves so much, a lifestyle that’s about “being stoked, being inspired, and living healthy.”
With her SUP, she’s found herself stoked once again.
SUPs — or lake surfboards, or flat-water boards — are not as long as traditional surf boards. With a paddle to move and steer them, the stand up paddleboards are designed to displace water efficiently while providing good tracking and stability.
Using them is an experience unlike any other on the water.
“When you’re standing up, you have this whole new perspective,” she said. “You can see so much more.”
In keeping with the sociability of the surfing lifestyle, Brown has also established an SUP group called Paddle the Mitten. You can find the group on Facebook by clicking here.
Through the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority, Brown is bringing SUPs to anyone interested with an introductory “What’s SUP?” class.
From there, Brown has big plans to use SUPs for a variety of recreational uses, from touring to racing to fishing to fitness and yoga.
There is no better advertisement for the fitness aspect of the SUP than Brown herself, who is incredibly toned and tanned.
“I’ve been using my SUP for just two months and I’ve lost 10 pounds,” she said.
“And I’ve got these.” Brown pointed to the sculpted muscles in her arms. “It’s amazing how wonderful the exercise is, how it strengthens your core.”
Her introductory class through the Howell Rec Authority will enable anyone interested to try out the boards, and she’s going to teach the fitness and yoga class outdoors, as well as in the pool of the Howell Aquatic Center.
Brown’s been in the water sports industry for 20 years, from luxury, ski and fishing boats in Michigan and Florida to the surf industry in California. She’s also been a secondary science teacher.
But at her core, Brown’s a surfer.
SUPs, which cost anywhere from $650 to $1,500, are surfboards for lakes, shorter and thicker than the long boards we’re all familiar with. While the boards and the bodies of water are different, the overall feeling of both embraces the zen of surfing.
“The first time I took my SUP out it was on Thompson Lake,” Brown said. “I felt like I was alive again.”
That first outing found Brown paddling out to the island in the middle of Thompson Lake, where she saw a goose egg, and picked up enough beer cans to make 50 cents. She’s glided across bodies of water large and small in the area, and she’s now able to tell people that she’s really and truly paddled through Hell.
“And it was really hot, too,” she said.
For more information on SUPs, private lessons or the classes that will be offered through the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority, contact Brown at (831) 227-4276.
If you’re taking part in the upcoming Howell Independence Aquathlon on July 3, you’ll see the Paddle the Mitten group on the lake with their SUPs, helping ensure the safety of swimmers.