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Health

Class of the month: Paddle board yoga comes indoors

Alex Anderson tried to slowly rotate her body into a warrior yoga pose, but her legs began to tremble, her arms started flailing and she landed with a splash in the pool at MAC Fitness in Harbor East.

The 29-year-old has slid into the position easily many other times, but that was before she tried it on a paddle board floating on water.

She was among a small group of women at MAC taking "paddlefusion," a new class at the athletic club that combines yoga and Pilates moves on a board similar to a surfboard.

Paddle board classes have gained popularity in the last few years as an outdoor summer activity. MAC is the first area gym to bring it indoors.

The instability of the paddle board on the water adds an extra layer of balance, making the workout harder, said Hal Ashman, president of Ultimate Watersports, which is partnering with MAC to offer the classes. The company also offers classes in the summer months outdoors at Dundee Creek in Gunpowder Falls State Park.

"It magnifies the degree of the core workout that you already get with yoga and Pilates," Ashman said.

At the MAC recently, instructor Jessie Benson showed variations of moves done in typical yoga classes to make it easier on the board. For instance, some of the standing poses are done on the knees. She told participants to keep their feet toward the center of the board to lessen the chances of falling.

But Benson said it is likely people will fall into the water — especially beginners. Some who take the class choose to wear bathing suits just in case. Even Benson wiped out during a recent class.

"I lost it," she said as she tumbled in.

Benson said taking the class in the pool may feel safer to some people than doing it in open water. The water is shallow enough that people can stand.

"It takes away some of the intimidation people may feel in a lake," she said. She said people should know basic yoga skills before taking the class.

Yoga on a paddle board takes more concentration than on land, Anderson said. Every move felt much more intense on water, she said. Those taking the class trembled at times as they changed positions.

"The lack of stability made a huge difference," Anderson said after class.

Stand-up paddle boarding was popular before surfing but died off when people found it easier to paddle lying on their stomachs. The sport has come back in the past few years — first on the West Coast, then on the East Coast, and now with yoga.

Ashman said he also is working with two other gyms to offer the indoor classes.

Benson said people will fall less the more they practice. And Anderson said getting a little waterlogged isn't the worst thing in the world.

"I mean, the water is not that deep, she said. "It's not like I'm going to drown."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/ankwalker

Paddlefusion class

MAC at Harbor East will offer a four-week paddlefusion clinic March 5 to 28.

Basic knowledge of yoga or Pilates required.

Info: macwellness.com

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