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Paddleboard classes focus on fitness

| Friday, May 29, 2015, 8:57 p.m.
Jodi Doyle (right), owner of Pool Paddle Fitness, leads a class at the Dormont Pool.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Jodi Doyle (right), owner of Pool Paddle Fitness, leads a class at the Dormont Pool.

Just standing on a paddleboard can be a bit tricky, but how about keeping your balance while doing a “downward dog” yoga move?

Stand-up paddleboarding, which originated in Hawaii, has been a growing sport around Western Pennsylvania's lakes and rivers for the past few years. Now, classes are popping up to teach yoga and other fitness exercises atop the floating boards.

Participants can do this in pools without worrying about waves from a passing boat or mud and debris in local waterways. Plus, lifeguards are always on duty.

Scott native and resident Jodi Doyle — who moved back to her hometown last summer after getting certified as yoga instructor and learning stand-up paddleboarding in Santa Monica, Calif. — started her business, Pool Paddle Fitness, upon her return.

“As soon as you step on a paddleboard, you engage your core muscles,” says Doyle, who also works in real estate. “You can't even think about anything else, because the whole entire time you concentrate on standing and not falling in.”

The combined activities strengthen core muscles and promote a sense of balance, she says.

Of course, falling from the inflatable-yet-sturdy paddleboards into the water does happen sometimes, she says, and that's part of the fun.

“I love seeing people smile,” says the graduate of Chartiers Valley High School and the University of Pittsburgh.

Pool Paddle Fitness offers basic stand-up paddleboard classes, along with paddleboard classes that focus on yoga and other fitness activities. Locations include Dormont Pool, the Settlers Cabin Wave Pool, the South Park Wave Pool and some community recreation centers.

Most classes — which average $30 each — are for adults and teens, although Doyle is starting a new children's class for kids up to about age 12.

“I want it to be something everyone can enjoy,” she says. “It is a great program, and it gets people into the water.”

Other Pittsburgh-area places that have basic paddleboard fitness include the Ross Park Mall L.L. Bean store, which offers classes at the lake at North Park; SUP3Rivers, which has classes on the city's three rivers, and riseSUP, which conducts lessons at North Park and the Fox Chapel Yacht Club.

At one of Doyle's recent classes at Dormont Pool, participants mounted their boards at the pool's edge and paddled their way to a designated corner. The students — some kneeling on their boards, others straddling them — did a mixture of yoga and other exercises.

“For me, personally, the first time I tried it, it felt natural,” says Sarah Thiebaud, 28, of Upper St. Clair. She teaches yoga at studios including Urban Elements Cycology on the North Shore and is taking paddleboard classes to prepare to teach with Doyle.

Lori Rooney, 51, of Upper St. Clair says she is enjoying learning paddleboarding, though she was hesitant at first. She's a fitness fan, as a personal trainer and water-aerobics instructor.

“It's very physical,” Rooney says. “You're using all your muscles ... on this board.

“This will be a great addition to any kind of fitness you do.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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