For Massachusetts native Gillian Gibree, the ocean has always been home. While Gibree’s childhood summers on Cape Cod may not bring to mind images of white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, they were the beginning of her lifelong passions and eventual career. As a brand ambassador for Ocean Minded and Roxy Outdoor Fitness, as well as a standup paddle instructor and owner of the San Diego-based Paddle Into Fitness, Gibree spends her days on the water. And if she’s not teaching workshops or SUP-based yoga classes, she can be found competing in different water-based events.
With a schedule like this, it’s no surprise that Gibree takes her fitness very seriously. Aside from her usual paddle efforts, Gibree adds yoga and other fitness moves to her ocean workout. While some of these are done on the sand, others are done on the board in the water. “I got into SUP yoga about four years ago,” she says in a post on Ocean Minded’s website. “SUP yoga has helped me achieve my fitness goals because the unstable surface makes poses more challenging, and basic poses like plank will trigger different muscle groups than they would on land. … SUP yoga can be done by everyone, as long as you keep your practice basic and modify poses for the board. You will get the cardio and strength benefits from the paddling side, and the flexibly and coordination with the yoga.”
No matter if you’re a dedicated water person, or have never set foot in the ocean, Gibree’s moves can be adopted by all fitness levels at all locations. Diehard SUP fans can start incorporating these moves on the board or the sand. “To me, there is nothing like working out at the beach,” Gibree tells GrindTV. “Listening to the surf, feeling the sunshine, and having the soft sand under my toes makes getting my fitness on that much more exciting.”
Landlocked folks, on the other hand, will be happy to note that these exercises can also be done in the comfort of your own home—just perform them without a paddle or using a one- to three-pound weight bar. Some of Gillian’s favorite SUP yoga poses are listed below, in Gillian’s words, but they can just as easily be adapted to dry land.
Side plank crunch
How to do it: Begin in a side plank position, with your right hand planted firmly in the sand, shoulder over wrist and left arm pointed towards the sky. The body is in one long straight line of energy from the crown to the toes, with ankles stacked. Inhale your breath and move the left finger tips overhead, creating a crescent shape with the body, all while lifting the hips high and engaging the obliques and abs. Exhale your breath and move your hand back to center, crossing it underneath the ribcage. Next inhale while you move back to center, and repeat these steps five times, then switch sides.
How to do it: Start with feet together, paddle behind your back, and forearms resting comfortably over the top of the paddle. Step the right foot forward, and lunge into a 90-degree angle, making sure the knee doesn't go past the ankle. Twist the torso to the right on the exhale, while drawing the back knee lower and parallel to the ankle. Inhale to step the left leg to meet the right and repeat on the left side. Complete five rounds on each side.
How to do it: Start by standing tall with the paddle overhead, and then jump as high as you can! Bring the paddle down to the sand, plant your palms, and jump the feet back into plank pose, with the torso in one long, strong line with the core engaged. Hold for one breath, and then jump your feet back to your hands. Grab your paddle and jump high in the sand again. Repeat 10 times.
Modified warrior 2: Virabhadrasana 2
How to do it: From three legged dog, sweep the right foot through between the hands. Drop the back knee down to the board while keeping the back toes tucked for stability. Lift the arms up to shoulder height and stretch the fingertips away from each other, creating lines of energy alongside the arms. Relax the shoulder blades down, widen across the pelvis, and bring the right knee over the ankle. Remain here for three breaths.
Bow pose: Dhanurasana
How to do it: Begin by lying on your stomach, with arms overhead and forehead down to the board. Bend the knees, reach back, and grab the ankles while flexing the feet. Exhale out. On the inhale, lift the thighs off the board, creating both length and height in your “bow” as you press the legs and chest away from each other. With each breath, you will rock gently back and forth, allowing prana to flow freely. On the third breath, release the ankles and rest on your board.
Feeding yourself well
One of Gibree’s go-to foods is her homemade almond milk on an açaí bowl loaded with goodies that pack a flavor and wellness punch. Cinnamon is just one of her secret ingredients. “You probably didn't know cinnamon was good for you!” she says. “Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol and have a regulatory effect on blood sugar. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.” Here are a few recipes Gibree enjoys, in her words.
Recipe for Gillian Gibree’s açaí bowl
1 frozen Sambazon açaí packet
1 frozen banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tbs hemp seed
1 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs raw cacao nibs
Blend and serve in a bowl topped with the following ingredients: granola, any fruit—I prefer blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and kiwis, and cinnamon!
Recipe for homemade almond milk
Blanch the almonds
Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil in your pot. Drop in 1/3 cup raw organic almonds. Let them boil for about three minutes and then pour everything through a metal mesh strainer so that the water pours out and you're left with just the almonds. Pour the almonds out onto a plate and let them rest for a few minutes until they are cool enough to touch with your hands. Once the almonds have cooled, rub off their papery skins and discard the skins.
Put the blanched nuts and 2 cups of fresh water into your electric blender. Blend them until you've crushed as many of the nuts as you can and the milk is creamy, white, and thick. A higher proportion of water produces a thinner milk, and a higher proportion of nuts produces a thicker one. It all depends on your preference!
Pour the milk through the strainer and set the pulverized nuts aside. You can strain the milk twice if you want to be sure you've gotten out all of the little particles of nuts. And that's it. You now have homemade almond milk!
Music to move to
When Gibree isn’t listening to the sound of crashing waves, she likes to rock out to the following mix: