How does it work?
Whilst its critics will claim that you’re just sitting in a boat, canoeing can actually be a great aerobic workout. Whether you’re pushing yourself through white water rapids or slowly making your way down a gentle river, canoeing is a fun and effective way to boost your overall fitness. The sport is divided into three categories based on the body of water you choose to paddle along – '''placid water''', '''white water''' or '''sea and surf'''.
Placid water canoeing is done on lakes, canals or low gradient rivers, so it’s generally the calmest option of the three. However, if you’re still keen on injecting a bit of speed into your sport, then sprint races (or even canoe polo, if you’re up for the challenge) take place on flat water. White water rapids follow a grading system from 1 (think Alton Towers-esque fun) to 6 (cue screaming and drowning), so if you pay attention to the scale, there’s no need to worry about being flung canoe first into the deep end on your first go. Slaloms and freestyle canoeing are most often done on white water. *Sea and surf pretty much does what it says on the tin – canoeing on the open seas. This is usually for those wishing to include some navigational complexities to their boat trip and explore hard to reach coastal waters.
If you’re a complete beginner you’ll probably start out with a land-based session, learning all about the equipment how-to’s, just to calm your nerves before dipping your toes (and hopefully not your head) in the water. If the weather’s warm, all you’ll need to wear are some light, quick drying shorts and a t-shirt, and take along some trainers that you don’t mind wearing in the boat. If you’re more prone to feeling the chill, a windproof layer might help you stay comfortable and if you’re brave enough to try out canoeing in the winter, a wetsuit or thermal leggings might come in handy.
Is it for me?
Of course! Well, as long as you’re not scared of water. It’s a great option for any explorer types looking to ditch the walking boots and pick up a paddle, or adrenaline junkies who’ve exhausted dry land. The Canoe England Development Team is also hot on upping the numbers of girls participating in the sport, and say that many just don’t know what they’re missing out on. So male or female, young or old – canoeing could be your next exercise obsession.
Good to know
Canoeing originated in the Caribbean – shame it doesn’t always come complete with a palm tree and a Pina Colada...