Millions of health conscious Americans are bypassing the gymnasiums this coming New Year. Instead, they are turning to the “Great Outdoors” in pursuit of exercise and recreation, according journalist Jennifer Best.
“They’re taking up kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, kayak fishing, canoeing and outrigger canoe racing in unprecedented numbers.”
According to the most recent Outdoor Recreation Participation Study the number of American kayakers increased from 6 million to 11.7 million in five years. This includes sea and touring kayaking, as well as whitewater and recreational kayaking.
During this same five-year period, canoe sports grew from 9.1 million to 9.8 million participants.
Stand-up Paddleboarding gained 1.2 million adherents.
Kristian Sanchez is one of those increasing numbers of Americans who have abandoned the gym for the lure of outdoor adventure and recreation.
“I’ve got a gym membership, but I don’t remember when I was there last.”
Kristen joined the Pale Kai Outrigger Canoe Club in Avila Beach, California. It was a wise investment from her point of view.
Since becoming a member, “There’s no reason to be in the gym.” She can exercise any time she chooses “As long as the weather’s good, and it almost always is on the Central Coast.”
Although weather might be a factor to on the Central Coast of California, this does not explain the millions of Americans attracted to ocean sports across the country.
For example, The Sea Kayaker (TSK) is a kayak touring/instruction outfitter in Atlanta, Georgia. Owners Tony and Teresa Kramer offer their customers a diverse range of kayaking opportunities and experiences.
“The terrain ranges from the high mountain lakes of North Georgia and the Carolinas, where paddling under the fresh falling snow gives a reminder of kayaking remote waters of Alaska.” Paddlers can also coast along, “The warm lowland marshes of the Atlantic Ocean. Then there is the beauty of the sugar white sandy beaches of the Alabama barrier islands.
The Sea Kayaking Tours in Seward, Alaska offer an entirely different paddling experience:
“Experiencing Alaska’s calving tidewater glaciers, icebergs, wildlife, and Alaska’s wilderness are only part of your Alaska sea kayaking journey.”
The San Juan Kayak Expeditions offer paddling enthusiasts the opportunity to:
“Explore the unique, marine environment of the San Juan Islands of Washington State by sea kayak with the area’s original sea kayaking outfitter! Sea kayak with orca whales, porpoise, sea lions, harbor seals, otters, bald eagles and more! Please join us for our 34th season!”
There are perhaps a million reasons why ocean sports (sea kayaking, Paddleboarding, kayak fishing, outrigger canoe etc.) are so popular.
Perhaps it has to do with the expectation of adventure. Aleksander Doba gained the recognition of many paddling enthusiasts with his two solo expeditions across the Atlantic Ocean. On his first adventure, he paddled from Dakar, Senegal to Acara, Brazil in 2010. It took 99 days
He began his second Atlantic crossing on 6 October 2013. He expects to complete his journey in February 2014.
Perhaps, like for Kristen Sanchez, it has to do with physical fitness and recreation. For paddleboard enthusiast Connie Fagan, it is about both fun and fitness:
“I love both (paddleboard and kayaking), but ever since I bought the paddleboard a year ago, I’ve been on the paddleboard more than the kayak. It’s that much fun. It’s a total body workout. You get your core, your legs, your arms, your shoulders, everything.”
Perhaps, according to Rebecca Sedlak, it is simply because “Sea Kayaking can offer enthusiasts a wonderful view in addition to the experience.”