I tried Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga (SUP Yoga) with Yoga Waikiki Studios. Here is what you can expect!
Editor: Kimberly Atkins Farcomeni
I have been having a lot of fun during the 2020 shutdown doing outdoor Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga (SUP Yoga). During a global pandemic when you are asked to stay 6 feet away from others, getting on a standup paddleboard keeps you outdoors, active and more than an arm’s reach from your fellow humans. Add a Yoga class on top of the board and you feel grounded and connected to your natural surroundings.. (For my review on YogAqua in Los Angeles, California, click here) Another plus is SUP Yoga does allow you to see others who enjoy the same activity you enjoy. While out of town in Honolulu Hawaii, I was very excited to try my new favorite activity in some warm Hawaiian waters. (½ the fun is falling off the board during the more difficult balance poses into the warm water). Of course I had to bring my sister and a friend with me… I was so excited! After a quick google search we found Yoga Waikiki with enough spots open for the 3 of us to take class.
When we found a class with 5 open spots at Yoga Waikiki we easily booked our class online. The price per person for a group class was $66.00. In my experience this is a high price for a group class, however, we understood this was a commodity in Hawaii so we ended up booking despite the HIGH PRICE. (In Honolulu $60.00 does seem to be the average price per person for a group class) After booking & pre-paying online, we were sent a confirmation email confirming our class date and time. When and where to meet including their 24 hour cancelation policy. If we No-showed or canceled late we would be charged the full amount. The confirmation email explained that we were to show up 10 mins early and we would be walking across the street as a class with the boards and supplies.
When should I arrive?
When you sign up for class on their website you get a confirmation email asking you to show up to the Yoga Studio at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki 10 minutes early. If you are walking from where you are staying there is no need to worry about parking. However, the Hyatt Regency does not have clear signs to find the studio and it can be a little confusing. Plan ahead how long it will take you to walk to the hotel and give yourself a couple extra minutes to find the studio.
What should I bring?
Leave everything you do not NEED in your hotel room or with a loved one staying on dry land. In my opinion the only things you should need are: Sandals, Sunglasses, A visor or a hat and a water bottle with a strap. (And maybe your cell phone in a waterproof case for some great photos)
What should I wear?
Wear a bathing suit or yoga outfit you can get wet in. Remember to wear your sunscreen! I also suggest a hat/visor and sunglasses. Even early in the morning there is bright sunlight that will reflect off the water into your face.
Though Yoga Waikiki has a small studio, we were only there to check in. We left right away. We were not offered to use the restrooms before heading out to the water. So go before arriving at the studio or make sure you ask.
What superhero would most enjoy this workout?
Aquaman, Mera, Ariel, Namore, any Mer-person and possibly silver surfer and Frozone.
Class Number 1- SUP Yoga: Paddleboard Yoga
(I usually recommend 3 classes when trying out a new studio or activity. To try different instructors and teaching styles. I already know I love SUP Yoga, and we were only available to take class 1 day. This review will be based on a single class)
Class was scheduled 8am-10:30am. We were asked to come 10 minutes early since we would be walking across the street as a class with the boards, anchors and bags on a trolly. My friends and I arrived at 7:45am. We gave ourselves extra time since the Hyatt’s first few levels are much like an outdoor mall and we were not sure where we were going. There are no clear signs leading to the Yoga Studio. We got there early and had a chance to meet and say hi to the 2 teenage girls that would be taking class with us. 3 of my classmates were new to paddleboarding and 2 had only taken a yoga class a couple times. I was SOOOO excited for them to experience something I am currently obsessed with, telling them all HOW MUCH they were going to love it!
At 7:50am no one from the studio had arrived. The studios lights were off, the Paddleboards were stacked against a wall and when I called the phone number on my confirmation no one answered. We called again at 8am and were told the instructor would be right there. At 8:20am our instructor Dennis pulled up on his bike, walked into the studio and gave us no indication if we were to follow or not. Finally we were invited into the studio and were told we NEEDED a hat or visor to go on the water unless we knew we could surf all day in the sun. Dennis gave us one unconventional stretch to do on the bars on the wall while he started taking the boards out of the studio and loaded them up on a small dolly. I mentioned to him that class was supposed to start at 8am and we were asked to be here 10 mins early, while he arrived late. The response was “You can cancel your class if you wish” knowing his return policy, we opted to stay.
I am accustomed to carrying a paddleboard for any type of paddleboard class. I would have thought nothing of it, if those of us that were strong enough/tall enough to carry a board were shown how and asked to carry one down the stairs if we were comfortable with it. Instead he started schlepping the boards on his own. Yes, I was eager to get on the water because we had a flight scheduled later that day so I asked if I could please help carry some boards down the stairs. I was met with a snarky response but yes I was given permission to help. Between myself and one of my classmates we carried a majority of the boards down the stairs. Dennis strapped everything together and we headed across the street and down onto the sand.
Finally on the beach our sandals were secured to our boards and even though we put our personal items in the bags attached to our boards we were reassigned to different boards for no apparent reason. Dennis, our instructor did not put the stabilizing fins on the bottom of our paddleboards and when asked about it he said, “Not only do we not need them, he does not see a difference when using them and it just takes too much time to put them on.” A stabilizing fin not only helps stabilize a paddleboard from side to side wobble, it also allows better tracking in a straight line when trying to paddle forward. Both things are important when paddling to a location to practice yoga poses. Especially because today there was a swell that was coming in on regular intervals making the area we would be practicing in have a lot more movement then normal.
We were not asked if we had paddled before. We were not asked if we had done yoga before. We were not asked if there were any injuries we wanted the teacher to know about. We were given no instruction on how to get on the board, paddle while on the board or any other good information for beginner paddlers. The only instruction we were given was, he told us how to fall so we weren’t the “third ones to end up with a leg gash” from falling incorrectly in his class 😳. Once in the water Dennis flew to the other side of the lagoon that we would be practicing in, leaving us all in his dust. The 2 younger girls had no idea how to paddle and I went back and told them to kneel over the handle and gave a quick description on how to paddle. On a side note on every other paddleboard I have ever been on, at the very least the company will attach a floatation vest to the top of the board. The confirmation email said the water depth where we would be can range from 3.5 feet deep to 6 feet deep. For our safety I am very surprised there was not a life vest. In water 6 feet deep most people can not touch the bottom.
Once we were all together in the water, Dennis anchored us and tied our boards together in a tight circle. This ended up being very unfortunate because his board kept on banging into my board. This put our instructors’ board uncomfortably close to me and my board for a majority of the class. We were so close that if I sat with my legs crossed my left knee would hit the instructors right knee. This made me feel extremely unsafe reaching out my arms to balance or in the event I fell off my board.
I would love to report the yoga portion of the class was centering or grounding or fun. I would love to tell you it concentrated on breath, balance, precision of movement or alignment… Unfortunately what Dennis led us through was unlike any yoga class I have ever been to. He was using cues like straighten your legs, slap your legs, slap the board, flop your feet. A majority of the class we all had trouble hearing him and when we mentioned it, his response was he didnt want the people on the beach to hear him. His class was very difficult to follow along with. I think the things that were the BIGGEST draw back from this class were:
-I was within arms reach of the instructor with boards bumping for most of class.
-I got off my board to move my own anchor and board away from the instructor’s board.
-The lack of knowledge of yoga poses or names.
-At one point he had us get in Frog pose and undulate our bodies and pelvis on the board. I felt that not only was this extremely inappropriate for a yoga class with all students he had never taught, it was extremely inappropriate to teach with the 2 younger teenage girls in the class. Frog pose is one thing, undulating frog pose is another!
What should have been mid-class I started feeling woozy from all the movement from the swell and the constant knocking of his board against mine so I slid off the board, stood in the water and rested my head on my arms, on the board. Dennis asked me what time it was and when I said 9:58. He clapped his hands and said, “GREAT, lay down on your boards!” He continued to lay down on his back and put his hat over his face. He did not ask if I needed a modification or if everything was Okay. He just ended a class with 5 students around 9:58am, when class was supposed to go till 10:30am IF he showed up on time. Of course we all started doing our own yoga poses and because we had purchased $20 waterproof phone cases from the ABC store, we started taking pictures of each other. The other students were now pulling their boards away from one anothers boards in case they fell in. I was told after class that other boards in class were knocking up against each other as well. After looking at the photos I took, I could see it first hand. Dennis offered to do a partner/flying pose with the 14 year olds, but did not ask the other 3 of us if we wanted to try and partner poses, even with each other. Without a word Dennis paddled back to where he had locked up the dolly and left the 5 of us behind in a lagoon full of swimmers. He gave no instruction how to get back with all these new obstacles in the water. He actually gave us no idea that he had left us. After getting back to land and figuring out what boards our sandals and other items were on Dennis told us, “Don’t forget to tag me in your photos on social media!”
To be perfectly honest I had no intention of writing a full review on this class. I did not buy a class pack with the intention to review the studio. I purchased a single class to have some added fun with some friends in a beautiful location. I also had no intention of writing a review anywhere else for that matter but for 3 days in a row after taking Dennis’ SUP Yoga class I got several emails asking me to review the class and giving me links to all the websites to do so… Upon thinking about it, I do think you all deserve to know what you are getting yourself into when taking this class, especially when your well being, health, safety and fun are all factors!
THINGS TO EXPECT-
-Very little safety instruction.
-Very little instruction on how to paddle.
-Not to be able to hear the instructor while on the water
-Do not expect traditional yoga poses or a traditional “Yoga” class on the water.
-Be prepared to take your own pictures and do your own poses.
All in all I am extremely disappointed in this experience and that we paid $66/person for apx 45 minutes of instruction on the water. (I would not be sure of these times, but all of our photos are time stamped. Thank you Iphone)
7:50am All students show up as asked.
8am Class was supposed to start, however no teacher was present.
8:20am The teacher shows up.
8:55am We are on the water
9:11am We are anchored/tethered to each other & class actually starts holding a high plank.
9:58 Class abruptly ends.
10:10 The instructor is out of the water.
I am extremely embarrassed I talked 2 additional people into taking this class with me! I hope people realize that WHAT Yoga Waikiki is charging people for is FAR from the experience you get at other studios. This was not a Stand Up Paddleboard experience, nor was it a Yoga class. I found the class I took with Dennis to be unsafe, ill prepared and hard to hear. This is all very hard for me to say because I love SUP Yoga so much and want to share it with everyone. If you have been watching our Instagram you will see the tons of pictures and fun I have out on the water. Both on the board and IN the water!
I highly recommend you try Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga (SUP Yoga) I just suggest you stay as far away from Yoga Waikiki Studios as you can!
I took an SUP YOGA clad in Los Angeles, Ca with YOGAqua. Check it out here.
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