CHESHIRE -- While the Hawaiian-born sport of stand up paddle boarding has only been gaining popularity in New England for a couple of years, North County residents are getting a taste for it thanks in part to a series of recent demonstrations.
A free "SUP" clinic Tuesday evening, sponsored by Berkshire Outfitters in Adams, was held at Cheshire Lake and saw about a dozen people, some with dogs, get the opportunity to try out a variety of boards.
"I was curious how it would be to balance. It’s like kayaking, but you get a leg workout," said Bonnie Senecal, who kayaks but is "looking for something different to do."
"You could even do it with your dog," she said.
"I loved it. It was awesome," said Kate Hurton, of Adams. "It was a lot easier that I thought."
Hurton’s dog, Josie, a 4-month-old Australian shepherd mix, sat on the board while she paddled out on the lake.
"I’m more likely to do something like this than canoe or kayaking," she said.
Stand up paddle boarding uses a board similar to a surfboard, but the user stands erect and uses a paddle to move about in the water. While kayaking or canoeing gives the user a mostly upper-body workout, a paddle board gives the user a "total-body workout."
According to Steve Blazejewski, who started selling the boards last year at Berkshire Outfitters, the sport is becoming more widespread in the Berkshires since it has come "inland."
The boards come in a variety of sizes and styles for different uses. While an ocean board is for the coast, a flat inland board is designed specifically for calmer waters. There is even a universal board.
Boards are created to fit the user’s activity -- whether it be fishing or even practicing yoga -- and the surface of the board is designed specifically to accommodate. Some of the boards have indentations for the user’s feet, while others are flat with a textured, padded surface.
The boards that Blazejewski sells range from beginner to advanced, with a child’s board being a bit smaller than an adult’s. Prices range from $599 to $1,599. The paddle is an additional purchase, with prices ranging from $119 to $300. Equipment is also available for rental.
While Jim Rose, of Cheshire, owns kayaks, he was at the clinic looking to try out the different boards. He and his wife first saw the boards while they were on vacation in Hawaii. They first rented the boards a couple of weeks ago.
"It’s a lot of fun," Rose said. "It’s a lot lazier. It’s another way to play on the water."
Blazejewski held three free clinics last year and four this year. He has one more clinic planned for this summer, but a date has yet to be determined. For more information, call Berkshire Outfitters at 413-743-5900.