Robert Stehlik Walks (on water) the Talk

I first “met” Robert Stehlik through a few of his Zen Waterman blog which he co-authors (the SUP part) with Len Barrow (surfing).  The blog explores Surfing and Stand Up Paddling as Zen arts with features including: focus and paying attention to technique, equipment, mental aspects, the interplay with nature and others. His interview with Gerry Lopez was one that caught my attention – and before I knew it I’d read through almost the entire blog.

As a 62 year old hoping to maximize both fitness and results through honing the best techniques possible, Robert’s article on “catch and reach” was really interesting. That did it. I decided to give Robert a call in hopes I might meet him and learn more about how he trains and coaches the SUP novice and experienced crowd on Oahu. I was planning to be there the second week of December. As luck would have it (YES!) I arrived in time to experience his December clinic.

For Robert, the clinics are much more than a chance to sell boards. The most important things is to make sure that the initial introduction to the sport is a positive one for the participants. That philosophy was integrated into all aspects of the clinic we experienced.

We walked to the meeting area near AlaMoana and saw about 30 people, most out on the water trying the vast array of top quality boards and paddles.

One local newbie, Emily,  trying standup paddling for the first time confessed that she has a tendency to be tense when learning a new sport. It isn’t the challenge – she loves that. Her concern was that she would do it all wrong.  Emily was lucky – she met one of the Blue Planet Hawaii trainers, Phil. Phil was just one of the patient and skilled trainers ready to surprise people with easy to follow training. One by one we saw it happen. Just like Emily, people were embracing their new favorite sport.  

Phil was quick to explain that while SUP can provide excellent fitness benefits, the most compelling aspect is its ability to connect people with nature.

Teaching is far more than a casual side interest among the team at Blue Planet Hawaii.  Robert definitely walks the talk. His background of training and dedication to meeting his own personal SUP goals become fodder for sharing with customers, clients and SUP students. Robert completed the Molokai channel crossing race on a Stand Up Surfboard in 2009,   one of his big personal goals. Months of training and planning paid off and he finished the 32- mile course in a respectable time of 6hrs 15min and 7th overall of all Solo SUP paddlers.

True to his personality, Robert was quick to thank his wife Sharon for her support. She came along on the escort boat and let Robert go on long training paddle runs for the last few months before the event. It takes a team – and that is what Robert has developed at Blue Planet Surf.

Summer SUP – Winter Training

Sitting here in the wintery world of ski-season, quads wonderfully shredded from 3 days finding off-piste fun, I started thinking about some compression tights to wear pre and post exercise. I remembered that Karen Wrenn was wearing something when she visited one of our river races last summer so I took a quick look at her website to determine what brand was good for SUP. Bummer, I can’t tell from this photo.  No problem though. I had the chance to explore Karen’s website and blog – great information right when I need it.

Just in time for paddling season this year I will be turning 63 (for real???) and staying ready to paddle in races and long tours is a priority. I “enter” races but I don’t “race.” While every stroke is the strongest I can muster at the time, and the camaraderie of the race is so much fun, I am usually the last to cross the finish line on my 11’3″ Amundson.  Occasionally I borrow a race board, most recently from Dave and Meg at Kialoa, but my agenda is all about the paddle in the water, the connection between heart/lungs/muscle/sights/sounds and friends on the water. Training for all that is important.

Reading about Karen’s busy life as mother of three and the off-season whether she deals with in Portland was inspiring.  She suggests ways to stay motivated and carving out the 45 minutes or so needed to stay in shape.  Especially interesting is her explanation of her cross-training routine.

On her blog, Karen explains,  “Circuit training is great because you can get your heart rate going, build muscle and muscle endurance. I will first do something that elevates my heart rate followed by a couple exercises that include strength and balance. For example, I might do 20 double jumps (or you could do 100-150 single jumps) with a jump rope and then move right into 20 kettle ball swings (from a squat position swinging the kettle ball to shoulder height coming to a standing position) and repeat. Then I would move into a plank position with elbows on a ball and roll the ball forward and back for 20 reps. I would do this circuit 3 times and then move on to another circuit.

Another idea of a circuit is to do 15 split jumps on each leg ( and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches ( and repeat this circuit another two times. Basically, come up with some circuits of three exercises. Have the first exercise of the series be something that will elevate your heart rate ( jump rope, running stairs, sprints on a rowing machine) add a strength exercise ( kettle bells, push ups, tricep dips, pull ups, etc…) then add in a core exercise ( reverse crunch, plank, medicine ball sit up and throws). After you finish one circuit of three then move on to another.

Bye, for now! I am heading to the gym and then to the trail. SUP season will be here before we know it. How do YOU train off-season?