Gillian Gibree

Gillian Gibree made a name for herself by picking up a handful of contest titles for SUP.

Standup paddleboarding yoga has evolved into daily fodder for Instagram and a much-needed reprieve from the on-land stressors of thousands — if not millions — of paddlers and yogis alike. So it’s almost jarring to learn that the first weekly SUP yoga classes in Southern California sprouted up just a few years ago.

The woman behind them? Paddle into Fitness founder Gillian Gibree. Originally from Massachusetts, the former lifeguard was inspired to blend her two favorite forms of fitness into the hybrid after moving to San Diego.

But let’s rewind a bit: Before she was known for the launch of her business, Gibree earned herself a reputation as a formidable competitor within paddleboarding circles, landing a slew of titles around the world, including multiple top-10 finishes at the Battle of the Paddle in Dana Point, California — the location of this weekend’s Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life.

Gillian Gibree

While it’s a little late to work on your fitness, you can still improve your surf skills.

In addition to two days of seminars, demonstrations and professional races, there are a handful of contests open to anyone who wants to enter. The bad news? There’s only a little bit of time left to hone your skills. But don’t worry: Here, Gibree offers us some focus for our last-ditch training efforts, just in the nick of time.

“With one week left, you can’t really work too much on your fitness,” she tells GrindTV. “But you can improve your surf skills, which is super important! Do as many pivot turns and ins-and-outs of the surf zone as possible [before your event].”

Gillian Gibree

Posture is just one of the many things to keep in mind while on a SUP.

The Quick Fix: Posture
How: Make sure you have a slight bend in your knees, and keep a flat back (no rounding). Keep the stroke of your paddle in front of you, stopping at your feet before lifting for the next stroke.

The Quick Fix: Speed
How: To move faster in the water, forget about arm strength. Your power comes from the core (the muscles running across your stomach and around your back). Increase the turnover rate of your paddle and pull from the core.

The Quick Fix: Catching a Wave
How: Lots (and lots) of practice. Make sure to keep looking over your shoulder so you don’t get blindsided. As you feel a wave begin to propel your board, take a step back to the tail of your board.

The Quick Fix: Going the Distance
How: The best tip Gibree has to offer for long-distance endurance races? Don’t forget your hydration pack. Stash a few quick bites to eat around the hour mark, too. Pace yourself like you would a foot or bike race.

The Quick Fix: Losing a Race
How: So competition was fierce — tough luck. Towel off, grab some friends and head over to the beer tent when you finish, advises Gibree.

Winning isn't everything, dust yourself off and get back out on the water.

Winning isn’t everything, dust yourself off and get back out on the water.

For a schedule of events and to sign up for a race, visit Space is limited.

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