Overcome Fear and Break out of Your Comfort Zone with Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Overcome Fear with Stand-Up Paddleboarding

By Gina Bradley

The first time I stepped on a stand up paddle board, my initial thought was “if I can find a way to make this sport accessible, this sport will change lives.”

As a windsurfing teacher and a SCUBA diving instructor, I had plenty of experience being on top and below the water. Both sports had one thing in common: long learning curves for mastery. Both these pursuits would push my students outside their comfort zones, but the stakes always seemed higher.

While on a stand up paddle board, I found that there were some of the exact same challenges and needs to push through a fear, a preconceived notion, or self doubt.

However, the simplicity of a paddle, a board and the water made it feel so much less daunting, less risky. Learning how to stand up paddle and actually do it was so much easier than most sports, and the sense of accomplishment was rewarding.

I found myself repeating the phrase: “You got this”

As my business grew over the summers in the iconic Hamptons, so did my teaching skills. I started teaching hundreds of students, male, female, young and old. What started to happen was I found myself repeating the phrases: “Look up,” “dig your paddle deep,” “enjoy the ride,” “if you can walk, you can paddle, you have the strength” and “believe in yourself, you got this.”

Gliding along the surface of the water, laughter and joyful conversations would be part of the hour tour. Nestled in the pristine waters and looking at landscapes my students would become elated, almost drunk from the experience of walking on the water!

For ten years I have been standing on the bays and waterways around the globe. I have developed a brand that encourages people to take on a new sport, to just get out, try and become fearless of the outcome.

Here are three things I know that paddling has done for me and the direct outcomes as a result:

1. Be open to the outcome

When I started Paddle Diva in 2009, I did not know if it would succeed or fail. But I was ready for either. Sometimes the outcome, whether it be success, failure or something in between is only a byproduct. It’s the journey that is the joy.

2. Dig deep

When I stepped on a near fatal poisons stone fish in 2015 while SUP Surfing off the coast of Puerto Rico, I had to reach deep into my soul and not allow the venom to overtake me. It’s times like this, when you have a traumatic event, that you need to have the practice of calling up all your power and strength to survive. From something very minor to something major happening, having the ability to access your inner strength is invaluable!

3. Smile every Hour. Laugh every Day

I find that a simple smile can be so powerful in any situation. When we laugh or smile, it’s a way of setting a path for positivity. I have been able to achieve and accomplish more than I ever thought through smile and laughter, not taking myself too seriously even. Writing my book is a great example of this. It was one of the hardest tasks I have ever undertaken and without a little humor, it may not have been such a fun project, and one that exudes positivity and fabulous energy that I admire in all of my students.   

Gina Bradley is the Founder and CEO of Paddle Diva (NY). Check out her new book, “Paddle Diva: Ten Guiding Principles to Finding Balance on the Water and in Life.”

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