Sharing the Awesome – Myra MacDonald, Queen of SUP

My life is filled with love and laughter thanks to the amazing people I get to hang out with. As well as being awesome, they’re creative, talented, generous, and fun! I thought you might like to meet them so I’ve asked them to come and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re passionate about. I have to warn you though – creativity is contagious!

I’d like to welcome Myra MacDonald – queen of stand up paddle boarding. Myra taught children for many years and has recently shifted to teaching stand up paddle boarding to adults.

005Myra, how did you get involved with stand up paddle boarding? M: In 2012, I took a lesson on a lake north of Kingston. I knew immediately that I loved the sport, and having had experience in sailing and windsurfing (albeit not highly skilled at the latter), I knew that purchasing a board was my next step. After a great deal of research, I settled on a high quality Jimmy Lewis brand board, and returned to Kingston to practice my new-found obsession. I was very surprised to be one of a few paddle boarders on Lake Ontario, and loved the varied conditions and challenges that our lake provided. Although Kingston boasts countless waterfront sites and inland lakes, which are all accessible given a very short commute, I rarely saw other paddleboarders. I was eager to share this simple-to-learn sport, and decided to embark on a path to become an instructor. In 2013, I took Paddle Canada courses leading to my PC Instructor qualification, certified with PaddleFit USA, and in First Aid. Soon after, I launched SUP Kingston to teach lessons and sell boards as an authorized Jimmy Lewis dealer.


SUP Kingston-01I love that you could turn something you’re passionate about into a business and that you not only teach others, but at the same time, you meet new people to enjoy the sport with. Making your own fun! What does SUP involve? M: Flat water conditions provide a very meditative experience which is perfect for beginners, yoga, continuous paddling and touring, or for socializing. Calm conditions usually occur early in the morning or in the evening, which is perfect for paddlers wishing to paddle before or after work. Afternoons often bring waves and choppy conditions. Being the Freshwater Sailing Capital of the World, Kingston, on Lake Ontario, provides diverse conditions for SUP. This provides more challenging conditions for teaching advanced skills. With experience, paddle boarders seek windy conditions in order to take their workout to a level, which can mimic tempo and even interval training on land.

SUP is also done in surf, and touring on SUP over long distances is popular. SUP racing is very established throughout the world and the Ontario SUP Series is showing continued growth. Many people use their boards for the practice of yoga as well. Nighttime paddling is lovely by the light of a full moon, although added safety measures such as the use of headlamps, and waterproof flashlights are required. PaddleFit circuit training engages paddlers in a bootcamp style workout combining sprint paddling and buoy turns with beach drills.

IMG_2696I didn’t realize it was so versatile! What do you love about it? M: I feel an incredible sense of freedom the minute I set foot on my board. It’s liberating to glide away from a land-locked city onto a vast liquid playground. SUP provides an incredible workout for all muscle groups without feeling like you’re working out! With groups, SUP can also be a very social activity. It’s the fastest growing water sport in the world, with so many branches of the sport. There are always mentors to learn from. I am currently part of Paddle Monster, an online training group coached by Olympian Larry Cain. Other positive aspects of SUP are that it requires minimal equipment, boards are easy to transport and store, and only your own energy is required! Leave no trace!

It feeds the mind, body, and soul. 😀 Do you have any advice for beginners? M: My advice would be to take a lesson from a certified instructor on quality equipment that is properly sized for the beginner’s ability and body weight. When learning on premium equipment, students are always pleasantly surprised at how responsive the boards are, and ultimately at how successful they become in a short time. Introductory lessons should also have a strong focus on safety. When choosing equipment for purchase, always test paddle the board you are considering. It is crucial to get advice from a knowledgeable salesperson. The recommended board should suit your size, and should be a shape that is correct for your intended type of paddling (river, touring, surf, yoga). Buy the best quality equipment that your budget will allow; it will perform well and will retain its resale value. Try an inflatable board as well! They’re easy to store and transport and quality boards pump to over 20psi for outstanding firmness.

IMG_4263Like any sport, tips from an expert can speed up that learning curve. What kind of training did you have to do to become an instructor? M: Paddle Canada provides a hierarchy of skills courses leading to instructor certifications. I completed Basic and Advanced Skills courses followed by Basic and Advanced Instructor courses. Time on the water at each stage is critical, in order to solidify skills learned prior to becoming an instructor. I’m currently working through a mentorship in the hope that I’ll be able to certify others as instructors some day.

Cool! What would you pick as a superpower? M: The most useful superpower would be the ability to control the weather, especially wind speed and direction.

Handy for a SUP instructor! What’s your favourite dessert? M: My favourite dessert is any ice cream with high quality ingredients and no additives.

A session out on the water and delicious ice cream – sounds like the perfect combo for the hot summer days we’re having. Myra, thank you very much for sharing your love of SUP. A group lesson on the water sounds like a fun way to get active!

There’s more about SUP Kingston at