Paddle boarding on the Thames

Five minutes paddle boarding along the Thames and I almost forgot my manic Monday and to-do list the length of my arm.

“People usually comment on how relaxing it is out on the water”, says James, my instructor and the founder of Epic SUP. “Once a person gets comfortable standing up on a board they begin to unwind. It’s a relaxing way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors in the middle of a big city.”

paddleGliding between house boats, heron spotting and sunset chasing I had to agree. I couldn’t have felt further from London as I paddled down the Thames. The last time I paddle boarded was on Sydney’s Rose Bay in sweltering 30 degree heat and so I set my expectations pretty low. However, despite Twickenham’s lack of golden sands and the temperatures only peaking to 18 degrees, it smashed my Oz debut out the park.

Starting off the session James carried out a safety briefing and kitted me out in a life jacket. From there, here took me down to the edge of the river and taught me some of the basics of how to steer, manoeuvre the board and position myself in order to balance on the water. We were lucky with the weather as there was only a slight wind which made it ideal as I struggled to stand upright at the best of times!

The narrow width of the boards allowed us to snake around the house boats and I was amazed at how beautiful the houses were along the river. I felt like I was being let in on a secret as, from the road they look like your regular houses and apartments but on the riverside they come alive with sloping, grand gardens, enchanting jetty’s with beautiful arches and uninterrupted views of the Thames. Of all the houses my favourite was a house with a huge trampoline and massive inflatable slide into the water. A kids dream!

The session took me along the river Thames to Teddington Lock which was a great 60 minute round trip. Concentrating on my technique I was aware of how important my core strength was in order to balance on the board. My arms and legs also got a really great workout as I was constantly shifting my weight and moving the paddles to direct the board where I wanted to go. If the weather is windy you would get an even greater workout, working against the wind while focusing on staying afloat.

James has been paddle boarding for over five years, competing in paddle boarding races on weekends everywhere from Dartmouth to Birmingham. His latest challenge is to cross the channel on a paddle board. For more information, click here.

His enthusiasm and genuine love of the sport is truly infectious, so much so that he’s even managed to get his family on board.

“I actually got into paddle boarding as my wife wouldn’t kayak with me and it seemed like a cool sport to try. I now regularly take my two year old out on my board. That’s the great thing about the sport, we have club members from age 11 to 70 paddle boarding with us. Age is no barrier.”

As the session drew to a close we were treated to a beautiful sunset which topped off a truly enjoyable evening out on the water.

For more information on Epic SUP, click here

  • Location: Twickenham Rowing Club, Eel Pie Island
  • Who should try it?: Those looking for a fun, alternative outdoor fitness challenge
  • Style of class: As challenging as you wish to make it, with the ability to work up your speed as you gain confidence
  • Ave calories burned per class: 500-700 calories per hour
  • What to wear: Leggings / shorts, top and trainers. Bring some spare clothing in case you get wet. Lifejackets are provided