May 16, 2016

Perkins Students take on Stand Up Paddle Boarding

You never know what will be happening in the MIT Z-Center pool. One of the most contended-for areas of recreation in the facilities, you can often find three or four completely separate activities happening all at once there. Lane one? Free swimming. Lane five and six? Intramural water polo practice. And in the diving well, Stand Up Paddle Boarding lessons for 22 adventurous students from the Perkins School for the Blind.

SUP 2016 Perkins (3 of 6)

Now, for those who aren’t familiar with the sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), the idea is as simple as it sounds – you stand up on your board (which is much like a surfboard) and paddle yourself around. The execution though, requires quite a feat of core strength, coordination and most importantly, balance. Many first-timers very quickly find their way back into the water with a splash!

SUP On Boards (1 of 1)

The Perkins students though, were completely undeterred by the high splash-to-standing ratio of beginners in SUP. First, they started on dry land, laying on the boards, familiarizing themselves with the dimensions of the SUPs. Then, once launched, each student experimented with the SUPs and pushed their comfort zones to the extent that they were willing.  By the end of the class, there was a fleet of paddleboarders in the pool. Some were content from their knees, but some stood upright, paddle in their hands, successfully navigating the boundaries of the pool – guided all the while by the voices of instructors Casi Rynkowski and Chuck Donmine from Casi Performance Training.

SUP 2016 Perkins (6 of 6)

If you too are thinking about trying something new in fitness – like SUP or Olympic lifting or marathon running – let these guys be an inspiration to you. So often when it comes to our own fitness journey, we let misconceptions of our limits stop us. If you have never run before, training for a 5K might seem overwhelming. If you have trouble lifting groceries, weightlifting might seem way out of reach. Maybe you have never so much as been in a pool before! Swimming lessons might seem like a setup for failure.

SUP 2016 Perkins (4 of 6)

But these limitations are not reality – the human being is an impressive creature. We are capable of pushing our boundaries, upping our accomplishments, and redefining the limits of what we are capable of. The Perkins students are great proof of this. They went into their first SUP class with one more hefty challenge than your average beginner paddleboarder, but they didn’t let it stop them for a moment. And in the end? They not only learned a fun new sport – they had a blast doing it.

SUP 2016 Perkins (2 of 6)