Review: Flow Fitness

The “Mill City”. The “Mini-apple”. Minneapolis is known by many names but none rings more true during the summer months than the “City of Lakes”.

Five city lakes — Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet — are connected by a 12-mile system of walking and biking paths.

And, if you have the sea legs, one of the best way to experience them is stand-up paddle boarding with Flow Fitness.

I first tried stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) in 2012 on the weekend of my 30th birthday. I met up with Tina, the owner of Flow Fitness and fellow CrossFit athlete, for a lesson along with a few friends. It was a warm, sunny Sunday morning but the winds were strong on Lake of the Isles.

Failing to find my balance, I fell into the water at least a half dozen times, though successfully never lost my sunglasses in the process.

Thankfully, in addition to teaching us how to paddle (proper technique, how to turn, etc.), Tina showed our class how to properly fall off the board and how to get back on.

She offers clear instruction but at the same time maintains a casual environment to help everyone stay relaxed, especially as it is a new sport for most.

A few weeks later, a second lesson and less wind on Cedar Lake made for a great dry morning. Tina led the group across Cedar and down the canal that connects it to Isles.

Everyone was in good spirits as we smiled and waved to the many passing kayakers and paddle boats.

In addition to the entertainment value it provides, stand-up paddle boarding offers a complete full body workout because it activates the core.

Trying to keep balanced and stable depends on your core muscles the whole time.

It’s also excellent in developing specific muscle groups in the shoulder, upper back and chest region thanks to the basic paddle stroke.

Now, for the past two summers, I have been taking the SUP strength class with Flow Fitness. It’s a mix of strength, cardio, balance and yoga.

Over the course of an hour, besides paddling, you do push-ups, sit-ups, squats, plank holds, mountain climbers, lunges and more all on top of the board.

If you think it’s hard to maintain your balance while paddling, just guess what it’s like doing burpees.

Last year, I was lucky enough to win a quality inflatable SUP board. I bring it to class with me now; but, thanks to Flow Fitness, I also take it out on my own and have made stand-up paddle boarding a fun part of my summer training routine.

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