I’ve been DYING to try paddle boarding. Every time that darn Athleta catalog comes to my doorstep (which is probably like three times a week, but I’ve lost count), I pour over it. Not just because the clothes are super cute on those super fit models, but because they’re always doing so many FUN things. California beach volleyball, yoga in Hawaii, coffee in the city after barre class, surfing, stretching in Costa Rica, ballet in some urban studio. Every single fit Athleta chick is having way more fun than I am even when I wear Athleta clothes; I am sure of it. It’s been my mission to try at least one or two Athleta catalog activities in the next year (I guess that’s how suburban moms make their Bucket Lists?).
So you can only imagine my excitement when I heard that the Smarty team and their lil’ Smarties were going on a paddle boarding (or SUP – “stand up paddle” for short – I am such a paddle boarder now!!!) excursion with Gina Vincent from Paddle 2 Paradise. Gina, a recent Smarty mama, started Paddle 2 Paradise after she and her husband took a SUP lesson in Hawaii (her story is AMAZING – read it all here and here). She fell in LOVE with the sport and quickly made plans to bring this contagious joy back to the QC.
And, that’s exactly what paddle boarding with Gina and her family is: contagious joy. The minute you meet Gina, her husband Mark, and their two children, you get the sense that this path they have chosen together is the perfect one for them. They make a SUP excursion seamless and so enjoyable. All you need to bring is a swimsuit, sunscreen, hat, Croakies (although they have spare pairs just in case), and maybe water shoes (but we SUP’d barefoot). They provide EVERYTHING else – paddle boards, paddles, life jackets, water, and the best instructions ever.
Our SUP excursion was what they call the “Explore, Escape, Rejuvenate Excursion” – it includes the SUP, life jacket, leash, paddle, dry sack for your car keys and phone, bottled water, and DELICIOUS picnic. Smarties Jen P., Liz, and I brought along some of our littles ages 8-11 and met Gina and her fam at Mountain Island Lake (Charlotte’s best kept lake secret in my mind). Liz’s 8-year-old paddled with Liz, and the older Smarties had their own boards. Every single Smarty stood up and paddled easily and quickly after Gina’s super instructions. We got familiar with our SUPs by paddling to a little picnic site Gina knows about. Delightful!! It made for the MOST enjoyable, relaxing, and FUN afternoon. The perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of summer.
Smarty Team ready for an afternoon on the SUP
The yummiest picnic EVER from Flavors Cafe at the Harris Y – good call, Gina!
After our yummy picnic, we headed to a spot at the lake to let the kids paddle around, swim, and relax. Gina, a certified SUP yoga instructor, gave the Smarty mamas a little SUP yoga lesson. It was the MOST FUN.
Smarty Liz killing the Chaturanga (she may be sweet, but that girl is STRONG!)
Me doing a side arm plank – busted about half a second later. SOOO much harder than it looks in the Athleta catalog!
Some forearm planks SUP style – serious core workout
Lil’s Smarty Sloan making it look easy!!
Lil’ Smarties Iz and Ava tag-teaming
The boys – enough said 😉
The entire afternoon was amazing. It turns out the Athleta models aren’t the only ones who can have fun ;-). There’s nothing like breaking out of your bubble, challenging yourself to a new skill, introducing your children to one, AND making new friends. It’s the perfect escape, and Gina is the perfect hostess – her enthusiasm and love for the sport and for life are priceless.
Bottom line: #yallneedtodothis.