We know that summer doesn’t last forever. Canadians are gearing up for an incredible season, and we’re ready to pack a lot of adventure into a few short months to make the most of our first non-restrictive summer in years.
Whether you’re after an active-recovery day or hoping to spend more time outside, summer allows you to mix up your workout routines and have a little fun trying something new.
Canada is known for its stunning lakes and tranquil nature, so there is no wrong answer to the question: “Where should we canoe today?”
“I would argue that every Canadian should experience canoeing,” says Michelle McShane, executive director of Paddle Canada. “It’s very Canadian.”
Not only is canoeing a classic activity for those of us living north of the 49th parallel, but it also happens to be perfect for an active-recovery day due to its low-impact nature, while still benefitting the upper body and core.
With many shops across Canada offering rentals and lessons, grab a friend and hit the lake. Just remember to check the safety requirements of Transport Canada first.
STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING (SUP)
SUP has been a popular sport for water-enthusiasts for decades.
This low-impact workout is great for the whole body, focusing on the legs, glutes, back, arms, shoulders and core. You can take SUP one step further and try SUP yoga. Yoga is all about stretching, toning and balancing. Mix the two activities for a unique active-recovery workout.
There is no shortage of shops offering SUP rentals, and you don’t have to go far to find a lake or river to suit your needs. Albertans, head over to Lower Kananaskis Lake and try your best Warrior II on the water. Hanging out in British Columbia this summer? False Creek is a stellar spot to check out impressive yachts and sea life. Ontarians, get back to nature in Georgian Bay or Lake Superior.
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SUP Across Canada
Although kayaking and canoeing share some of the same physical benefits, these two activities are not two of the same.
“[Kayaking] is more of a full-body workout,” says McShane.
“If you’re doing kayaking right, your legs, your core and your entire body can be fully engaged and fully involved in the process.”
Kayaking is more versatile than canoeing in that not only can you do it alone, but the shape and weight also allow for kayaking in shallow waters and rapids.
Kayak the 22.5 kilometres of Maligne Lake in Jasper. This iconic area of Alberta suits a recovery day, as the lake is calm and easy to navigate. Looking for a challenge? Kicking Horse River, located just over the border in British Columbia, has some of Canada’s best rapids. Kayaking in the east? Mix history and fitness by paddling along Ontario’s Rideau Canal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stretches from Kingston to Ottawa and is perfect for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
Let’s admit it; there is a little surfer-envy in all of us. However, we aren’t all lucky enough to live next to an ocean with impressive waves, so it requires some creativity to let loose our inner wave-rider.
You will likely want a wetsuit for this unique and challenging full-body workout since freshwater rivers can be cold.
Ottawa boasts some of the best freshwater surfing around, with great locations such as Remic Rapids and the charmingly named Sewer Wave.
In the west, changing conditions due to water levels impact the quality of the waves. In the heart of Calgary, the 10th Street wave is known as a good spot for beginners but is not currently active, leaving the South Channel at Harvie Passage as the only active wave for beginners.
Although a fantastic full-body workout, freshwater surfing also comes with risks.
“A key piece of advice for new river surfers is to take a lesson,” says Ryan Hamilton, co-owner of Bow Valley SUP and Surf in Calgary. “Go out with someone who knows what they are doing and can teach you how to fall.”
Hamilton explains that knowing how to fall, especially in shallow rivers, is vital to safe river surfing.
With the sport gaining interest in recent years, it is important that new surfers are educated and safe. Never surf alone, be aware of the hazards and talk to experienced surfers. River surfing can be challenging, but it is also meant to be fun.
Energize your summer with an exciting workout on the water. As with all water activities, be informed and be prepared, so you can safely enjoy Canada’s natural playgrounds.
Summer doesn’t last forever, so don’t wait to get on the water. We’ll see you there!
Photography by PARKS CANADA/ RYAN BRAY AND TRAVEL ALBERTA/ COLIN WAY