SUP – Real People Real Fitness

Stand up paddle boarding (a.k.a SUP) is a fairly new fitness craze that has taken the globe by storm and is now officially the world’s fastest growing water sport. SUP basically uses a surf style board and a long paddle, making it a cross between canoeing and surfing. It’s admired for its endless physical fitness benefits and thus becoming a popular cross-training activity. Anyone of any age can partake and one doesn’t have to be in spectacular shape to start (but good balance does help).

Real People – Real Fitness

Meet Paolo, born-and-bred in Cape Town but originates with hairy Italian roots from the land of the Baci (kisses). In the last few years he has discovered the worldwide phenomenon SUP and he might have developed a little crush, to say the least. Paolo has lost 12 kg since he started SUP, but gives no credit to his healthy diet – cutting down on those sinful carbs where possible is just part of his lifestyle. Both disciplines have played a huge part in him becoming the wave-riding Italian stallion he is today.


I started SUP about six years ago, before it became such a craze and surfers yelled at you to get out their way (actually they still do). I used to be a surfer myself, mainly long boarding, but once I tried stand up paddle boarding – I was hooked and never looked back.

Nothing is better than being in the ocean and this is the perfect way to do it. Just the other day I was catching some awesome waves up the West Coast when a group of dolphins surrounded me and started jumping out the water two meters from my board. It was just insane – you seriously can’t get better than that. I still smile when I think of that day.

It will most definitely get you fit and trim, it’s a great work out for the body and soul. I have shed a few kilos over the last few years and feel fitter than ever.

Yes, it’s super easy to learn, but it’s really important to learn the rules of the line up before even attempting to get in the water. These boards are a lot bigger than the usual surfboard and can be pretty dangerous if you don’t know the basics. Learning on flat water with as little wind as possible will make your first experience a lot easier.

There are a few SUP spots around Cape Town, but if you are a beginner, I suggest you try the canals in the Waterfront first (no waves and less crowded than the ocean). Once you’ve built up some confidence, head down to the beach for a little bit more of a challenge.

I SUP about twice a week, sometimes more (if I could, I would SUP everyday). I often take my board just in case I get a chance to get out on the water. I really have found the perfect hobby – it’s the (2nd ) love of my life and it keeps me fit and healthy, can’t ask for more.

I love how diverse it is, from paddle races on lakes, large rivers and canals to SUP downwinders (who use tail winds to gain speed). Yesterday for instance, there was hardly any swell so I did a two-hour ocean paddle along the coast. I’ve even seen girls do yoga on their boards (in bikinis), which could be a pretty good reason to start.

My ideal day would start with a surf in Big Bay or hike up Table Mountain, followed by a hearty breakfast at our local breakfast spot. I’d take a drive out to Franschhoek and do a little wine tasting, before ending off the day with a braai with family and friends.

My fuel for the day:
Breakfast: Futurelife with a ‘sterk’ cup of coffee.
Lunch: Usually a salad, but will snack on fruit and nuts.
Dinner: I make a mean braai (according to my wife) so it’s usually meat, salad and veg for dinner. I’ve found that a low carb diet, high in protein and raw veg works for me. We try keep it healthy, but a glass of wine and some dark chocolate is how I like to end off a long day.

LEARN MORE – For equipment, advice and lessons check out:

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Wellness in the City
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