Health & Fitness

Indoor stand-up paddleboard class in Coconut Grove is a first

LEARNING THE STROKE: Melina Cherry, front, shows student Jessica Cortada, 26, one of the “five phases to the stroke’’ during an indoor stand-up paddleboard class in the Grove.
LEARNING THE STROKE: Melina Cherry, front, shows student Jessica Cortada, 26, one of the “five phases to the stroke’’ during an indoor stand-up paddleboard class in the Grove. CAITLIN GRANFIELD

Over time, sports that were once synonymous with being played outdoors have been brought indoors — spinning for cyclists, treadmills for runners, indoor wave pools for surfers and bodyboarders.

Add stand-up paddleboarding to the list.

In a one-room studio in Coconut Grove, five women paddle, balance and sweat on the SUP Ergometer, an indoor aluminum-and-steel board that simulates stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on the water while measuring performance and affording a more intense workout.

“This is a new way to work out — to add to your repertoire of what you usually do,” says Melina Cherry, a former paddleboard competitor who leads the class, dubbed “SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Indoor Program.”

Students do squats, lunges and push-ups on the board while others do rope slams and squat-jumps on a floor mat. Cherry then teaches proper foot positioning — toward the back-middle of the board — and other balancing techniques. The actual paddling comes later.

Daisy Otero, 33, who works at a law office and attends SUPs in the early mornings in Miami Beach before work, says it’s helpful to learn indoors first and then go on the water. She says she has learned form, technique and stroke in Cherry’s classes, has lost more than 10 pounds, and is on track to get a “beach body.” She tried SUP as a new sport a few months ago and has raced twice in Key West.

Conditioning continues through a balancing exercise in which students lift and extend one hand and foot at a time while on the board, which has removable springs. Fewer springs equals more side-to-side wobbliness, a measure that will help students prepare for SUPing on the water, Cherry says.

Karla Agurcia, 39, who grew up in the Keys, says of the Ergometer: “It’s perfect that somebody invented this because I can work out on it and not fall in the water!”

Each Ergometer, which retails for $2,250 and is sold by Kayak Pro, comes equipped with a digital reader that tells paddlers the distance they’ve paddled in meters/miles and tracks their time, speed, heart rate and stroke rate. Based on those variables and on one’s weight, the Ergometer tracks how many calories have been burned, which usually ranges from 650 to 700 calories during the hour-long class.

Tiny holes that line the “flywheel,” a large wheel attached to the front of the board, allow air to pass through like miniature vents, building resistance when someone paddles. A steel cord connects through the end of the paddle stick around the hub of the wheel. The more air that goes in, which happens when you paddle faster, the stronger the resistance and the more developed and toned your arm muscles, core and hamstrings become.

Coral Gables resident Jessica Cortada, 26, showed the blisters on her thumbs that formed before she started taking Cherry’s classes and went paddling on her own. “I didn’t know the technique before taking classes with Melina on the Ergometer. There’s equipment here that you can’t find anywhere else in Miami.”

She has taken three indoor classes at SUP the Workout and one outdoor class, which Cherry puts together on weekends, usually at Virginia Key.

Cherry teaches the “five phases” of the stroke: Reach. Catch. Power. Exit. Recovery.

“I’m giving you all the theory, but in practice everyone has their own paddling style,” she says.

After the group class, Cherry gave a private lesson to Brooks Miller of Coral Gables, who has paddled on the water several times but wanted to perfect his form under Cherry’s guidance on the machine.

“Think of your paddle as your sphere and pull yourself toward your paddle. You need to fall on the blade for it to go on the water — like pole-vaulting. Pull your weight, not your arms,” Cherry commands. “Your top arm has the power.”

If You Go

What: SUP (Stand Up Paddle) indoor class

Where: SUP The Workout, 3096 Fuller St., Coconut Grove

When: Daily, see class schedule for times

The classes are open for those who are new to paddle-boarding and for more experienced athletes. Melina Cherry is in the process of splitting the levels into beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Cost: $35 for a single class; package deals available

Contact: Melina Cherry: (561) 644-6873