The Big Stick: A new way to workout
In Alaska, it's not unusual to see a mountaineer with a heavy backpack summitting the stair climber at the gym or an out-of-season skier whooshing along the bike paths on roller skis. So in a way, the Kahuna Creations Big Stick, a.k.a. "The Land Paddle," fits right in.
It lets you pretend you're stand-up paddleboarding in the surf instead of scooting along paved trails on a longboard. Here's my fitness experience with the Big Stick.
The Big Stick takes balance
I have a love-hate relationship with things that go fast -- it's all fun and games until I crash spectacularly -- so my first few Big Stick outings happened in a flat, open parking lot. The Big Stick itself is pretty easy to handle, but the longboard's deliberate wobble gives it a steeper learning curve. The wobble lets you turn by shifting your weight, but it also sent me meandering all over as I overcorrected first one way, then the other.
Enjoy the full-body workout
An intense core workout is part of paddleboarding's appeal; after all, whether you're on water or pavement, you're riding what amounts to a mobile balance board. But after those first couple of outings I was pleasantly surprised to feel it in my lats, too. That puts "Big Sticking" in pretty rarefied company, since most dry-land outdoor workouts -- running, biking, inline skating -- are exclusively leg-powered.
Beware of pole-vaulting errors
After a couple of parking lot trips I still veered unpredictably to one side or the other, but I'd learned to correct quickly. And I'd committed the cardinal big-sticking sin -- poling right in front of the board, which stopped it and launched me forward in a modified pole vault -- only once, and at very slow speed. I was ready for my big-girl trail debut.
Don't let your ego interfere
I expected to get a lot of strange looks, but nobody even eyed me twice; maybe I have them trained to expect strange things on that particular stretch of trail. The sole exception was an older gentleman who brightly declared, "It's like you're paddleboarding on dry land!" Score one for the Big Stick.
I even got pretty good at stopping by dragging the Big Stick behind me like a giant inline skate brake. After a few definitely-not-warp-speed stops, I could just see the barest sign of wear on the stick's rubber cleat (if I squinted), so I'm guessing it'll wear about the same as an inline skate brake. It even passed the "Oh, no, I missed my turn!" test, although the really nice thing about a longboard is that if all else fails, you can just hop off and run your speed down.
Give "big sticking" a try
My only complaint about the Kahuna Big Stick is that on the height-adjustable stick, there's no mark to help you line up the pop-up button with the holes, although I guess I could fix that with a dab of nail polish. Meanwhile, does the Big Stick deliver the fun, easy-to-learn paddleboarding workout it promises? My body -- and that guy on the trail -- say yes. (And “Wheee!”)