By AMANDA GIBB
SUPGirlz is back this summer to offer standup paddleboard (SUP) classes, private sessions, and rentals to Beach residents and visitors.
Owner Janna Van Hoof established SUPGirlz in 2008, a women-led team of certified SUP instructors that operate classes at Kew-Balmy Beach near Hubbard Boulevard and Maclean Avenue.
“I just watched the guys take over skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing…There wasn’t a lot of training that felt women-supportive,” said Van Hoof.
She said that she realized standup paddleboarding was going to become popular after she tried it for the first time, and knew it could grow larger than the other board sports due to its accessibility.
“I realized it was going to have a life of its own…And I thought well, I’m going to try to get the girls out there first to make it more accessible to women,” said Van Hoof.
Van Hoof said that standup paddleboarding is a fun and fantastic lake activity for all residents and visitors that lends itself well to social distance guidelines.
“I always made the business accessible so that you could just come down and either go out with a teacher, a group, or come out with your friends,” she said.
SupGirlz offers numerous class options, workshops, certifications, and special events through the summer months.
“We have rentals available all the time, we have classes every day, social and advanced classes, yoga classes, adventure paddles all the way to the bluffs, we go out at night with lights under the board, and at sunrise too which is amazing,” said Van Hoof.
Van Hoof said in some areas of the lake, paddleboarders can enjoy the stunning views of downtown and the CN Tower, the Scarborough Bluffs, and even Pickering on clear days.
SupGirlz also offers an assortment of boards to visitors so they can try out new things in a safe way, including various-sized boards, boards for SUP surfers and racers, inflatables, boards for yoga, and “dog boards” that can easily support a person and a furry four-legged friend too.
Van Hoof also recommends lessons for anyone who has purchased their own paddleboard but hasn’t had any formal instruction.
She said formal lessons provide safety training like dealing with waves and wind and can help integrate people into the culture of paddleboarding.
“We want to welcome the people who have gotten paddleboards and show them that there’s so much more,” she said.
She said that she hopes people will come out for a paddleboarding experience that can improve their physical and mental well-being.
“The water is healing, it’s so good for all of us; we need some more time in nature, we need more time outside. And there’s more room on the lake than there is on land in our parks right now,” she said.
If you’re interested in standup paddleboarding, please visit https://www.supgirlz.com/ to check out rentals, classes, group bookings, and more.