take me to the river

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Former accountant Ana Maria Teubler started her stand-up paddleboarding business in 2020. Since then she has grown steadily and now has a thriving community of over 300 avid paddleboarders whom she takes down the River Medway and various local lakes. Here, she tells SO magazine more about her love for this popular pastime which has become a prodigious craze during the confinement…

Since this infamous photo of Jennifer Aniston paddleboarding and looking incredibly serene went viral in 2008, the water sport has seen huge popularity – with the likes of Lady Gaga, Orlando Bloom and Kim Kardashian also posing and posting pictures on their boards.

But it wasn’t until the summer of 2020, when we couldn’t go on holiday due to lockdown, that the sport suddenly became huge – with board sales soaring and rivers suddenly beset with amateur paddle boarders.

The reason it’s become so popular is basically simply because it’s so good for your physical and mental health: it invigorates you and keeps you in touch with the natural world as you glide down your local river or lazy lake. .

Local resident Ana Maria Teubler is a fan who has turned her passion for stand up paddleboarding (SUP) into a real business.

The former professional accountant, who has lived in Tunbridge Wells for 20 years, started SUP four years ago in a perfect place to paddle: scenic Polzeath in Cornwall.

“After my first taster session there, I then bought and stored my first paddle board at Bexhill on Sea where I have an apartment. It was a hard shell so when Covid hit I decided to bring it back with me but it was so heavy! That’s when I decided to invest in an inflatable SUP board and life was infinitely simpler! I found it so pleasant and I immediately hooked!

Ana says she was naturally drawn to the sport as she is a fan of fitness and a big lover of the great outdoors.

“I play a lot of tennis, I run, I play golf and I play lacrosse because I really like being outdoors. But after sustaining a knee injury, paddleboarding seemed like a good way to stay fit without risking further damage,” says Ana.

She goes on to say that the mindfulness and calming nature of the sport also attracted her and eventually led her to enroll in an instructor course a few years ago.

“I decided to qualify with British Canoeing as an instructor as I was taking friends and wanted to learn more about rescues and technical skills. When I posted on social media that I was qualified , friends then started asking for lessons and it all went from there.I worked as both an accountant and a SUP coach for a year, then I decided to quit accounting and move my office to River bank !

“I found it so enjoyable and was immediately hooked!”

Since then Ana has taken additional coaching courses to broaden her remit and the services she provides from her base near Tonbridge Canoe Club on the River Medway.

So how quickly did his SUP business become established and is it a relatively easy skill to pick up?

“It took a good year to get established and it grew organically – mostly through word of mouth and social media. I currently have over 300 women in my membership group! And in terms fast learner I would honestly say it is easy for some but at the same time very difficult for others I would normally recommend a lesson and then practice I offer trips three times a week where the ladies can come and try.

“I coach on the River Medway, as well as a private lake in Southborough. I have scheduled pool sessions for the Tunbridge Wells Sports Center and also teach at Sevenoaks School. I also create daily events such as Nordic Walking and Paddleboarding / Yoga and Paddleboarding / Barre and Paddleboarding.

Ana adds that she also works with larger companies and event organizers such as Planet Patrol on their river cleanup projects. She’s also currently in talks to start an interesting sports fusion called “Aqua Paddle,” which Ana describes as a concept similar to the Park Run where people show up at the same time to collectively paddle.

“But it’s not a race. It will just be a time trial to challenge you,” she says.

Ana also runs various courses and coastal tours – mostly in Bexhill where her love for the sport first developed – working with other providers to provide a safe environment for people to further develop their skills and learn about the geography of other local places.

What does Ana, who works all year, think people ultimately get out of paddle boarding?

“I get so many comments about how I’ve changed people’s lives – I guess it’s day-to-day escapism. Friendships have developed around me and I’m proud of that. C It’s also a great way to exercise as it’s a lot of engagement and core toning Winter is actually my favorite season as I have the river all to myself and my group of braves ladies!

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