'SUP': The increasing popularity of stand-up paddle in Belgium

'SUP': The increasing popularity of stand-up paddle in Belgium
Standup paddle. Credit: Unsplash

People practising the increasingly popular 'SUP' sport have been seen paddling along the rivers Semois, Ourthe and La Sambre and even the Brussels-Charleroi canal. But what is it and why is it a thing?

'SUP' involves standing on a surfboard while using the paddle of a kayak to propel yourself forward in the water. It has gained popularity recently due to its accessibility as very little is needed to be able to enjoy the sport. Equipment is readily available across a range of sports vendors, such as Decathlon.

It has been around for thousands of years, but the sport was welcomed to the shores of California in 2005 where it was quickly embraced by locals. SUP has since spread globally.

While providing a great workout, particularly for your core, SUP is less demanding than surfing. It provides a way to enjoy the outdoors and because of its accessibility, SUP can be enjoyed by the whole family. And it is not just your core that will get a workout, it also improves cardio.

A new relationship with the environment

Urban dwellers are increasingly eager to experience the benefits of nature, while stilling living in the city. "With stand up paddle, we have the example of the adaptation of a sport of nature to the urban environment," said Antoine Marsac, Lecturer in Sociology of Sport at Gustave Eiffel University, in Le Soir.

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"I see different factors behind it. The first is due to lockdown and the demand, in particular for nature, that it has pushed. The second is linked, in my opinion, to the need to be able to do a sporting activity close to home. What is possible with the paddle. The third relates to the desire for change through the practice of a new activity," Marsac added.

As cities develop and grown, people are finding new ways to connect with nature as well as water, which includes rivers that run through cities and canals. Even if inhabitants do not always want to swim in them, city residents want to make use of the water. During the summer season, it is a way for people to reconnect with the aquatic element in their surroundings.

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