Angie Bussell is avid about exercise, especially yoga, but like so many in the Lowcountry this year, she's hooked on a new kind of workout.

The 31-year-old Mount Pleasant woman has been attending exercise classes using stand-up paddleboards. It's group fitness on the water -- complete with push-ups, squats and cobras (of the yoga variety), not to mention paddling itself -- on a semi-wobbling board.

Several local personal trainers and instructors have partnered with local outfitters and tour companies to tap paddleboarding's popularity to conduct yoga, Pilates and similar classes in beautiful settings, such as the Folly and Ashley rivers, Bohicket Creek, Intracoastal Waterway behind the Isle of Palms and the Atlantic Ocean in front of Sullivan's Island.

"It's a great workout, but the wonderful thing about it is you don't feel like your working out," says Bussell, who first went paddleboarding while in Key West, Fla., in March with her fiance, Aaron Benson, who also takes classes.

The couple, to be wed Oct. 1 in the Virgin Islands, registered for a paddleboard as a wedding gift and plan to spend most of their honeymoon paddleboarding in the islands.

"I think paddleboarding, in all its forms, is here to stay," says Bussell. "It's so accessible for people to get on the water and exercise."

Feel the burn

Paddleboarding in and of itself is a good workout.

But it's so new that data on how good is scarce. The Mayo Clinic and other reliable sources didn't have a listing for calories burned during an hour of activity. Even with a number, it would vary based on the effort and fitness levels, as well as the weight, of the individual.

An often-cited estimate in newspapers and magazines, include Self magazine, claims that "the average male can burn between 800 and 1,000 calories per hour, with the average female burning about 500 to 700 calories per hour."

But what can't be readily calculated is the muscle burn, particularly in the core and quads, that anyone who tries paddleboarding can attest to.

Misty Lister Johnson, who is a partner in locally based paddleboard manufacturer Dean Watersports, is bullish on the sport and says the appeal of paddleboarding is it's a full-body workout with calorie burns that rival running, yet without the pounding.

And while cooling water temperatures eventually may discourage some from trying it, Johnson, a year-round paddler, says the point of paddleboarding is "not to fall into the water" and that wind is more of a realistic deterrent than water temperature.


Mary Ann Richardson Stisher, a trainer certified in barre, Pilates and cage fitness, has been partnering with Lane Jeffries of Island Paddle Adventures to offer classes that launch from Bohicket Marina on Johns Island and Bristol Marina near Brittlebank Park downtown.

"What's hot right now is SUP fitness," says Stisher. "It's blowing up everywhere right now. I have friends in Orlando, San Diego and Hawaii who say it's the latest craze."

Stisher says exercising on paddleboards was pioneered by Nikki Gregg, aka the "First Lady of Stand-Up Paddleboard Fitness." Stisher watched a video and starting practicing it herself about a year ago.

"What it does is takes an exercise, such as a push-up, and add a whole new level to it," says Stisher, noting that added balance and stability are required to keep from going in the water. "Plus it takes people from being inside and puts them outside."

She and other trainers, however, admit that like many exercise classes, women still make up the majority of participants. Since May 1, of the estimated 100 people she has taught, only three have been men. However, men are more interested in taking paddleboarding lessons. The range of ages has gone from teens to people in their 60s, but participants typically fall in the 30-to-50 age range.

MUSC's in

Janis Newton, program director at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, loved the idea of combining paddleboarding with fitness classes, so the center started offering a Paddleboard Fitness class this summer.

"I love the idea for paddleboarding as a cross-training fitness option," says Newton, who has been in the fitness profession for nearly 40 years. "I like it because it gets you outside, is easier than surfing, has high caloric burn and is great for balance because it works the stabilizing muscles, which are critical for balance in every activity."

The MUSC class has only 10 slots, and Newton says the first one in July was full. All the spaces for the second class starting today also were expected to be filled. She adds that, depending on demand, the center may add one more class in September and already has plans to offer it in the center's pool in November.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.

The following are exercise classes using paddleboards. Most outfitters also offer paddleboard instructions and rentals. Reservations and/or registration are required for classes at the phone numbers listed below.

Outfitter: Ocean Fitness.

Instructor: Misty Lister Johnson of Dean Watersports.

Offerings: Twice-per-week classes for three weeks, $150 (starts this week); single classes, $25 with rental board or $15 if you bring your own board.

Times: 6-7:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Location: Isle of Palms Marina.

More: or 559-6073.

Outfitter: Charleston SUP Safaris.

Instructor: Cameron Gunter, a certified yoga instruct-


Offerings: Yoga on paddleboards, $25 with rental board, $15 BYOB or $50 for a package of 10 classes, off a sandbar in the Folly River.

Times: 6-7:15 p.m. Tuesdays; 7-8:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

Location: Sunset Cay Marina, 66 W. 9th St. Extension, Folly Beach.

More: or 817-7877.

Outfitter: Charleston SUP Safaris.

Instructor: Ken Pucket, a certified SUP fitness instructor.

Offerings: Fitness on paddleboards, $25 with rental board, $15 BYOB, $200 for 10 classes with rental board, $100 for 10 BYOB.

Times: 9-10:30 a.m. Saturdays; 6-7:30 p.m. Mondays.

Location: Sunset Cay Marina, 66 W. 9th St. Extension, Folly Beach.

More: or 817-7877.

Paddle Fitness

Outfitter: Island Paddle Adventures.

Instructor: Mary Ann Richardson Stisher, certified instructor for Pilates, Barre and Cage Fitness, or Misty Lister Johnson of Dean Watersports.

Offerings: Class focuses on full-body workout geared to balance, core strength and coordination. Cost is $25 per class with a rental board, $15 BYOB or $200 for a 10-class package or $100 BYOB.

Times: 7 a.m.-8:15 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 6:30 p.m. Mondays; 6-7:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Location: Meet at the dock between Brittlebank Park and Bristol Marina.

More: or 768-1280.

Outfitter: Charleston Watersport Outfitters.

Instructor: Moira Hynes Kucaba, certified Pilates instructor.

Offerings: Exercise class on the beach, followed by a paddle for $30 with rental board or $15 BYOB.

Times: 9 a.m. (alternating Fridays) Sept. 2, 16 and 30, Oct. 14 and 28.

Location: The beach at Station 30, Sullivanís Island.

More: or 884-9098.

Outfitter: Charleston Watersport Outfitters.

Instructor: Deborah Kaufman, certified yoga instructor.

Offerings: Paddleboarding, then yoga, then more paddleboarding; $30 with rental board or $15 BYOB.

Times: 10 a.m. (alternating Sundays) Aug. 21, Sept. 4, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Oct. 30.

Location: The beach at Station 30, Sullivanís Island.

More: or 884-9098.

Partners: Medical University of South Carolina Harper

Student Center and Island Paddle Adventures.

Offerings: The current class is filled, and one is planned for November. Eight-session, monthlong course is $150 and includes a month membership to the center.

Location: Meet at the dock between Brittlebank Park and Bristol Marina.