Author Topic: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person  (Read 12911 times)

Ichabod Spoonbill

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2019, 04:39:18 PM »
I'm starting to worry I'll never stand up without falling in or even be able to move.
I was on a large blue and yellow O'shea board (hope I've got the name right) which was 10'6 x 32 and as soon as I slightly shifted my weight, even into one bent leg, to try and bend the other to stand up, the whole thing was tipping to one side.


Is this the board?  https://www.sup-internationalmag.com/shaping-bay/oshea-10-6-hd-test-review/

If it is, it says 106x34x260L which should be ok for someone larger than you.  If not, there are larger and more stable boards.  I have had quite a bit of luck starting friends off paddling on similar sized or slightly smaller boards.  It takes a little while to get your sea legs.  Quickbeam's guidance sounds pretty sound.  Also these boards tend to be more stable when they are moving so oftentimes it helps to take a few strokes kneeling and then when the board has forward motion, you can try to stand up.  Hopefully you stay the course as SUP can give you years of health and happiness!

805, that board seems like it's the right width, but inflatables can be twitchy. A good hard board is easier. I use these. The plastic makes them a little easier to fall on.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2019, 04:42:12 PM by Ichabod Spoonbill »
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nalu-sup

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 07:10:25 PM »
Don't give up, especially based on what you imagine other people are thinking. You have every right to learn at your own pace, and do not need to compare your pace to anyone else's. Where I live I get to watch beginners on rental boards almost every day, with no lessons. At first, they all fall off within a second or two of trying to stand up. The smart ones then paddle around on their knees for a few minutes so that their brain can start feeling and adjusting to the tippiness of the board on the water. After a while, some of the lighter ones are managing to stay on their feet for brief periods. Unless they are given appropriate boards for their size (which almost never happens), the bigger people will always be more challenged at first and will take a little longer, but they will progress. if they come back the next day, the progress is very noticeable. The only ones that don't progress are the ones that give up.
Here are a few tips that might help:
1. 'Board size' to 'person size' ratio is a big deal for all of us, beginner to expert. The size board you describe would be a good size for the average person to learn on. However, if it is perfect for them, it may be too small for you if you are bigger than them. I have an older friend who weighs about 220 lbs, and is very out of shape. He wants to learn, and asked me what size board to start on. I suggested a 10'8" X 36" if he wants a little challenge, or 11'2" X 40" if he wants life to be easy while he builds his confidence.
2. Forward momentum is your friend. Imagine trying to balance on a bicycle standing still; nearly impossible. Get that bike moving forward, and balance gets a lot easier. The same is true on a SUP. Whether you are on your knees, or on your feet, try to keep paddling to keep the board moving forward. The moment you stop paddling, balancing will become more challenging.
3. Someone earlier described the classic way to get to your feet. For myself, I have too many years and too many old injuries to get up that way most of the time. Here is a trick that works for some of us: Start on your knees, and paddle until the board has some forward momentum. When you are ready to stand up, first bring your feet up underneath one foot at a time you so that you are on the balls of your feet and sitting on your heels. Then hold the paddle in one hand, and stand it up vertically with the blade resting on the deck in front of you. Use this as a crutch to help you up, and to stabilize yourself on the way up. The moment you are upright, get the blade in the water and start paddling forward. If you are more flexible than some of us old injured types, the standard way may work better for you, but try both and see what happens.
4. Never try to balance with the blade out of the water. Having the paddle in the water is your third leg for stability. This is true whether you are on your feet or on your knees.  Have you ever seen a two-legged stool? Nope, stools need at least three legs to be stable; same on a SUP, and the paddle either on the deck or in the water is that third leg. If your paddle is waving in the air trying to balance, you will fall.
5. Find totally calm water to practice on. Even one inch of chop on the water will make life ten times harder.
In answer to your question, there are a lot of paddlers on this forum who are big people (many are well over 200 lbs), and many of them are great paddlers. In most cases, they use boards that are bigger than the average-sized person. When they were learning, many started on boards that were much larger than the average beginner boards (or at least they wished they had). If you do not mind the challenge, you can stick with the same board and you will succeed as long as you do not quit. If you need some confidence building success, insist on something wider; at least 35" or 36" until you build your confidence.
Lastly, don't measure your success based on other people's progress. Base your success on your own progress. If you can do something a tiny bit better than you did the day before, that is progress, and progress is all that matters. When I recently had my second hip replaced, I was ecstatic when I could take two steps without crutches. It did not matter how many steps the patient down the hall was doing, all that mattered was that the next day I could take three steps. If you don't quit, you will progress.
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supthecreek

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2019, 07:26:09 PM »
Horsey, my 1st board was 11'2 x 36" at 230 liters
Me: 285 lbs (130 kg)
Surfed all my life

1st day, I fell 100 times.

Now I am a certified Instructor.
My favorite student was a large 35 year old woman.
She wanted to paddle so much that she lost weight and came for a lesson.... down to a svelt 135 kg

I put her on the biggest board I had. She trembled... didn't have the strength to stand up and wanted to quit.
I said..... "You will be paddling before you leave here today!"  :)

We went to a shallow spot, where I was in chest deep water, holding the tail of the board in a death grip.
"Go from kneeling with hands on the board and push yourself up quickly. Don't worry about falling, you are in deep enough water that you won't hit the bottom"
She fell
We went in to shallow water and got her back on.
"We keep trying till you are up!"
Soon, she was up and wobbling... but I held the board till she had her paddle in the water.

I got on my board and got her taking timid paddle strokes... but she wasn't falling.
Bottom line...... she paddled stronger and stronger for 45 minutes before she fell again.
This time, she wasn't afraid to fall..... getting up was much easier.
She went home a decent paddler... with a massive smile, and a new passion.

I think your board was too small..... find an 11' board that is at least 34" wide... preferably 36".
When you are on a big enough board... things will be so much easier!

I started at 130 kg.... paddling got me down to 95 kg in a year, and I have been SUP surfing around the world ever since.
I turned 70 surfing in Thailand and 71 surfing in Portugal.
SUP life and all it's people are awesome. Welcome to the addiction.... you will get there!!! :)

805StandUp

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2019, 08:21:15 PM »
@Ponobill & Ichibad: You are right... I forgot that the inflatable that I had was a Red Paddleboard which inflates to 25psi and was a lot closer to my hardboards than others I have used.

@Creek: Great pics... you are an inspiration!

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2019, 09:12:28 PM »
Hi everyone. I'm new here.

Without giving a long sob story, I've been through a complete and utter rubbish couple of years, put on weight due to some of that and have not felt great in general.

Thought it was about time to stop feeling sorry for myself, lose some weight, get a better level of fitness again and challenge myself socially and do new things and try to get back to the person I once was! Positive attitude and all that.

A friend of mine started paddleboarding last summer and I've thought it looked fun for a long time but being self-conscious and worrying about making a fool of myself put me off.

I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a four week course.

I had my first lesson yesterday and it did not go well. I knew I'd be a bit rubbish but I exceeded my already low expectations and was without a doubt, the worst in a class of 15 others.

I'm a size 16(UK) so knew I'd probably be one of the bigger people but was assured they cater for all sizes.
I have completely reinforced the 'fat lass struggling in the corner' stereotype. I was embarrassingly bad.
I had zero balance (found it difficult to so much as move slightly on the board i.e. changing leg position, leaning back to tighten leash, going from kneeling to sitting).

I had read that it was a fairly easy sport to get to grips with the basics and that bigger people can do it fine so went in thinking I'd be ok.

I'm starting to worry I'll never stand up without falling in or even be able to move.
I was on a large blue and yellow O'shea board (hope I've got the name right) which was 10'6 x 32 and as soon as I slightly shifted my weight, even into one bent leg, to try and bend the other to stand up, the whole thing was tipping to one side.

Is it just a case of practicing? I feel so low and disheartened and kinda hate myself for how it went.

Anyone else either overweight or a bigger or muscled/heavier person that has mastered it eventually?

Went into it so positive and now feel like it's never going to happen.
I'm ashamed to show my face for next week's lesson!

Sorry for the length of this. I'm not looking for sympathy, just an answer as to whether it's doable for someone like me or whether I should put it down to experience and move on?

Thanks.

Keep going.....
you know that already.

Inflatable? (..805 showed it...)
Don't matter the inflatable.....
They're twitchy...like Ichy said......
I can imagine trying to learn  on a 32 x 10'6 inflatable never doing this before.
Did you get wet?

Some place giving lessons had the board?
I'll bet it was under inflated as well.....

Does not sound like the board I would choose to try and get someone out on the water with.....
But you'll get it,
even on that...Ö
but do check the air......12 lbs. vs. 15 and especially to 18 is huge...Ö..
if not.....go rent a hard board somewhere...Ö..same or bigger dimensions if possible...
Night and day....




Area 10

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2019, 01:51:35 AM »
Size 16 is the most common size for a woman in the UK. So itís definitely not your weight that is the problem. Although a bigger board would help, if the one you tried was only 32Ē wide.

SUP is not easy when you start. In fact it can often seem almost impossible, if you have been leading a pretty sedentary life. But it is amazing how quickly you improve if you stick with it. Your brain and body just needs to be given time to adjust to being on a wobbly surface. After all, thatís really unnatural - we are land-based creatures and the land doesnít wobble. So thereís a lot of reconfiguration of your brain and body that has to happen.

Itís a lot like riding a bike: when you first learnt to ride a bike it probably seemed totally impossible at first, right? But once your brain and body have adapted to it, it seems perfectly natural.

Thereís no doubt that carrying extra weight makes things harder for SUP. In my first year of SUP I lost 35lbs (just through doing SUP, nothing else), and it made a huge difference to my ability to balance. It was really hard at first, and I had to find a place to practice that was well away from prying eyes, to save my dignity. I think our musculature and balance systems are designed for a certain weight, and if you arenít the weight that your body naturally wants to be then you feel a bit unbalanced.

So, keep at it. Accept that you may be behind everyone else now, but that in a yearís time you might be the best of the bunch. If you were watching an adult learning to ride a bike for the first time, and struggling, what advice would you give them? Give that advice to yourself. And most importantly of all, try to have fun, and persevere: people will respect you much more for that than the speed with which you learn.

Good luck!

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2019, 03:10:33 AM »
Horsey,

First off, welcome to the forum!

Second, after periods of inactivity our bodies take a while to adjust to what we are demanding of them.  Seemingly basic stuff may even be painful.  This is going to change but it does take patience.

Third, two practical tips:

As an exercise stand up with your feet at shoulder width and toes forward.  Shift your weight from one foot to another.  Now check what you just did.  Did your shoulders and head move above the foot that you were weighting?  If so that would likely be a fall on the water.  Try again and weight one foot only by shifting your hips (leave your head and shoulders centered between your feet).  Now weigh the other foot.  Now back and forth.  This weight shift is how you counter an unstable board.  Like anything else it is a learned motion.  Once you have it you have it:)

How you rise to standing is the foundation.  You will want to know what you want to do there before you start.  Make a mental program of your motions and practice them on dry land.  It is best to hold your paddle shaft square across the board in front of you.  The paddle blade should be flat on the water.  This adds stability.  Hand position is shoulder width.  Your hands will be fists around the shaft with the heels of your palms and knuckles on the deck of the board.  You want to be kneeling facing the nose and you will want to skootch (that is a technical term :) ) your knees toward your hands so that you are in a tight but comfortable kneel.  In that position you can rock your body fore and aft to feel for the balance line on the board.  Your goal here is to set your feet on that balance line.  Take your time here.  A lot of falls are determined before you ever stand.  Being in the right spot will solve this. Take a little stroke to get some forward motion as soon as you are on your feet even if your are not entirely balanced yet.  Forward motion adds a lot of stability and you will find that your minor adjustments go easier with this motion. 

You can do this.  As always, the hardest part is not allowing the perceptions of others to determine what you will do.  In a year you will look back on this and you will be the one watching beginners struggle with the same things.  Accomplishment through persistence carries an amazing reward...and you are on your way.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 03:13:59 AM by Admin »

JimK

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2019, 06:52:02 AM »
horsey,

First of all you are not that BIG by this forum's standards and there were alot of good points made.
First learn at your own rate stay on your knees till you are comfortable.
Definitely, get a hard board and go to at least 34" but 36" would be better
Last but NOT least folks with compromised balance remember this..."If you look down you fall down!" Look out to the horizon not down at your feet/water

The Zone is a great resource of knowledge tap it when you need it.

JimK
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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2019, 07:05:32 AM »
Creek thatís a very impressive before/after...
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ospreysup

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2019, 07:36:50 AM »
Another Big Guy Supster here. Lots of great info here particularly that size is your friend. If there was a mistake to be made learning, I made it. My two biggest mistakes was not understanding the conditions I was learning in. Wind, current, crowds etc. and how they impact learning. Know the conditions you are in. My second biggest mistake was trying to learn too many things at one time be patient with each step and it will come. Being on a stand up is counter intuitive. Whether on your knees, standing, or surfing  it is a learning curve and time on the water is a must. This will include plenty of falling. Learn how to fall. I have had seasoned surfers get on my boards and they couldn't stand on it either.

Once I learned to paddle correctly and that my paddle in the water and moving gave stability it got easier. Instead of putting your arms up for balance- paddle, paddle, paddle. It stands you back up.

Additionally, there are some really good quality instructional videos out there. I found watching them over and over transferred really well to the water. In my opinion Rob Stehlik from Blue Planet Surf has the best and most reliable beginner videos out there. They are zone sponsors and usually pop up in a banner. Just click it and search how to on his site.

Lastly, stay at it. The fun factor so out weighs the learning curve.

horsey44

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2019, 04:12:01 AM »
Hi guys.

Just wanted to say thank you for all of the replies. The support and friendliness is much appreciated.

I've had a hectic few days so haven't been online much but I'll read through everything fully over the next day and reply properly.

Didn't want anyone to think I'd gone quiet and didn't appreciate people taking the time to reply - just been super busy.

SanoSlatchSup

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2019, 08:36:49 AM »
Horsey, not much I can add here other than echo what others had previously said...that yes, in the beginning it looks/feels like you're trying to balance a unicycle on a basketball atop a skateboard. But also yes, it does get easier, and you start staying drier the more time you give it, and soon what at one time seemed impossible...is a blast, and sooner your encouraging and showing others how to do it.

My only real piece of advice to you is what I was given my 1st time out when wet, cold, and discouraged I prone paddled over to an older fella I'd never seen before, who looked like he could dance a jig while on his little SUP, that when I finally made it over to him inquired, "Excuse me, but what's the secret to these things?"...his one-word reply that was priceless, and spot on was, "Practice".  :o ;D

The sport is also so cool and welcoming....the two of us became, and remain best of friends after my brief initial desperation encounter with him some eight years ago now already. He's been battling cancer the past year and a half (and kicking its ass) so I haven't surfed or paddled with him in quite a while, but we text or talk daily, and I can't wait to get back out there with him soon...because if it wasn't for him, I might have just handed back the borrowed board and paddle, and never found the great sport, and all of the great folks you meet, and community you get swallowed up in because of it.

So my three words of advice - Don't. Give. Up.  :)
Me: 6'1"/200...6'0" Chelu Foil Boards...9'6" Bob Pearson "Laird Noserider"...9'6" Costa Azul Wide Body...14' Lahui Kai "Manta"...8'0" WaveStorm for when proning urges still hit, and 7'3" Chuck Glynn foil board backup.

SanoSlatchSup

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2019, 08:38:25 AM »
Whole cow creek, that's amazing...that hair cut makes you look like a completely different person!  ;) ;D
Me: 6'1"/200...6'0" Chelu Foil Boards...9'6" Bob Pearson "Laird Noserider"...9'6" Costa Azul Wide Body...14' Lahui Kai "Manta"...8'0" WaveStorm for when proning urges still hit, and 7'3" Chuck Glynn foil board backup.

PonoBill

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2019, 11:37:21 AM »
Hi guys.

Just wanted to say thank you for all of the replies. The support and friendliness is much appreciated.

I've had a hectic few days so haven't been online much but I'll read through everything fully over the next day and reply properly.

Didn't want anyone to think I'd gone quiet and didn't appreciate people taking the time to reply - just been super busy.

Glad to see you back, I thought we might have been talking to ourselves. Please know that we are all pulling for you, we've all been there. It's a great ride from there to wherever you wind up.
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SlatchJim

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Re: First lesson did not go well. Struggling and disheartened. Bigger person
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2019, 01:31:19 PM »
Horsey, you got this!

I want to assume that when you say size 16 you're 16 stone and not some dress size I have no frame of reference for.  My mass runs from 18 to 17 stone (113Kg to 109Kg), so like my bigger forum friends Pono, Creek, JimK and real friend Bulky, I know it can be done.

First thing is, your board can't be too big or too wide to start out.  Creek started on a Starboard Avanti, 11-6 x 36.  I call that perfect.  When I started, some shop near the beach rented me some 29-inch toothpick and said that's the biggest they had. 10 years later and I'd still struggle to stay upright on that board.  I switched out to a 12-2 x 33-inch board and started making progress.  The first board that I purchased was 10 foot x34 inch and it was great to learn on.  Find a huge board and get the next size bigger. :D

I'd agree with pretty much everything else said here.  Don't give up, time on the water is super valuable.

Side note: my bigger little brother is recovering from a motorcycle accident, and I'm tempted to get him a board in that range.  It just makes learning so much easier.