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The Zen of Kayaking: Going With The Flow

The Zen of Kayaking: Going With The Flow
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BY JILL MATLOW

I was never super athletic growing up, were you? I managed to secure a spot on the high school volleyball team (where I prayed the ball never headed in my direction). Net ball. Re-serve. No point. And who could forget those gym classes in the 1970s? My classmates and I had to wear one-piece red jumpsuits with snaps in the front as we ran laps around the gym’s perimeter. This further reinforced the notion that becoming an Olympic hopeful was not in my future.

In the years that followed my less-than-stellar athletic prowess in high school and college, I dabbled in high impact and step aerobics (sprained my ankle), rollerblading (albeit slowly), running (detached a tendon), biking (shattered my radial head and dislocated my elbow) and skiing (where I was usually found on the bunny slope with the 5-year-olds).

Unfortunately, all the accidents and injuries along the way forced me to become less adventurous and more cautious the older I got.

That is, until I discovered kayaking last summer. This sport is perfect for baby boomers whose knees, ankles and everything else in between have suffered wear and tear over the years.

I had kayaked a few times before, but never on a regular basis. But when the heat and humidity started to rise last summer, I knew it was time to hightail it out of the city and fast! Having no car didn’t pose a problem, as I tested out a few kayaking places accessible by trains and ferries until I finally found the one that met all my needs.

After a short walk to Grand Central Station (and remember when you were a kid and your mom would say “What do you think this is, Grand Central Station? Guess what mom? It is!”),  I was on my way to nirvana.  Cold Spring, a quaint town located 90 minutes north of NYC, proved to be the perfect respite for my foray into kayaking.  The train station there is conveniently located a block from the kayaking company where I would check in, pick up my ”life vest” and then onward to the river less than a mile away where my kayak and paddle would be waiting for me.

As is the case at most kayaking places, you have your choice of 2 types of kayaks: recreational kayaks (which also include sit-on-top kayaks where you literally sit on top of the kayak with your legs outstretched) and sea kayaks.

A recreational kayak is perfect for small lakes and slow rivers. You are seated in an upright position and these kayaks tend to be heavier and move more slowly on the water – perfect for beginners. Sea kayaks, much lighter and also longer in length, are recommended for the more experienced kayaker. Sea kayaks move much faster on the river too.

For those who don’t want to go it alone, there are tandem kayaks (built for two) which are also a great option.

No fancy outfits are required either – shorts and tee shirts are fine and wet shoes are also great to wear. With your life vest secured, you are now good to go. Sunglasses, sunscreen, a bottle of water and some snacks (almonds, etc) are also recommended to bring along for the ride.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein, who coined the above phrase, seemed to have said it best. Sitting in a kayak in the middle of a lake or river surrounded by trees and silence (where the only sounds you hear are the sounds of your paddle swishing in the water) is pure bliss. I wanted to bottle up the silence and take it home with me.

Speaking of home, can you guess what I did when I walked in the door after I had returned from kayaking? I googled “calories burned during one hour of kayaking”. Look, I’m not proud of that but I figured, why not? And I was super excited to see that you burn approximately 350 calories in one hour of kayaking! Unfortunately, I might have negated that by the panini and chips I ate when I headed into town after kayaking. It’s all about balance though, right?

In addition to the calories burned, stress relief and chance to be in nature, kayaking is a great workout for your upper body. It’s only a matter of time before you notice the new muscular definition in your back, core, shoulders and arms.

With June right around the corner, have you added any new outdoor activities to your summer repertoire that relieve stress and burn calories too? Please share them with us as we’re always open to hearing about new, fun activities to add to our schedules.

As for me, I can’t wait to ”listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul…”

“Get lost in nature and you will find yourself” – Anonymous

 

 

 

 

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Jill Matlow
Jill Matlow spent much of her career working in many different facets of the healthcare industry writing marketing proposals, creative briefs and tactical plans. She is thrilled to now be writing articles geared to baby boomers who are nostalgic about their past but still hopeful about their futures. While music is her first passion, writing comes in a close second.