The best aerobic exercise in Arizona, good for all ages, is
paddling a kayak. It doesn't put a strain on any joints.
I t provides a regular rhythm for a fat-burning heart rate. It is
a great stress-reliever, and it provides a calming link to nature.
Best of all, it is fun! Kayaking is an all-purpose exercise, with
something for everyone.
I'm not talking about the whitewater
action you may have seen on television. Although we have river
kayaking on the Verde and the Salt, I'm talking about a flat-water
paddle on any on Arizona's beautiful lakes and reservoirs.
You can paddle by yourself, with a group, or make it a fun-filled
adventure for the entire family. You can do it for exercise,
nature-watching, fishing, or just plain fun.
You can join an organized group paddle, or roll your own.
Wherever you live in Arizona, you are an easy drive from a beautiful
Kayaking is one of the least-expensive watersports. All
it takes is a boat, a paddle and a personal flotation device (PFD).
You can rent a boat, build a boat, or buy a boat. I personally
recommend renting several different kayaks before making any
Rentals will include an entry-level paddle and some form of PFD.
Rentals in the Phoenix area usually include racks or pads and
tie-down straps for easy transportation of the boats.
Carrying the boats is a lot easier than you might think, and you
can use any kind of vehicle. I love the looks I get driving my Miata
with a 19 foot kayak on it.
Shop At A Specialty Store
Whatever you do, do not walk into a big-box store, see a kayak on
sale, and make an impulse purchase. Unless you are in a specialty
shop, the chances are the person selling you the boat will know less
about it than you, no matter how little you know.
You will park the boat in your garage, let it collect dust for
several years, and eventually put it in a garage sale or give it
away. You won't buy a car without driving it. Why would you buy a
boat without paddling it?
The only piece of equipment you might
consider buying is the personal flotation device (PFD). The law
requires you to have a PFD on board, and the easiest, most practical
and intelligent place to store it is on your body.
It is always best to use a PFD designed for kayaking, and for
your body type. Modern materials are light and trim. PFDs are
designed for all body types.
A good PFD provides back support, safety insurance, protection
from the sun, and a convenient place for your keys and other
personal items while you are on the water. A properly fitted PFD is
a prerequisite to fun on the water.
A benefit of kayaking is you
can go boating in places where other boats can't. You can also drop
in to the water anywhere you have access to the shore.
Kayak To The Fish
Several of my friends are fishermen who started kayaking just to
get to the places where the big fish hide. One of the best ways to
get started is to take an introductory kayak class or sign up for a
guided kayak tour. The ranger at Lake Pleasant has free tours every
In future columns I will talk about types of kayaks, the
materials used to make them, necessary equipment, clothing, and
transportation. I will also cover some of the best places to paddle
For now, I recommend you take a kayak "quick-start" lesson that
will include all the information and skills you need to get started
in this great sport. You can find useful links at
www.canyonsandcoastlines.com on the Web, or visit your local
If you need to rent a kayak, call Thor at (480) 968-1140, and you
can always reach KayakJay at (602) 359-1354, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.