Just blocks away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto, you can escape it all and experience the delights of Lake Ontario and water activities like kayaking, Stand Up Paddling (SUP), and paddleboard yoga.
Three women making waves in Kew-Balmy Beach share their love of the water by offering rentals, classes and lessons to anyone curious enough to give it a try.
Fitness professional Gudrun Hardes of WSUP Toronto fell in love with stand up paddling while vacationing in Mexico. She brought her passion home to Kew Beach, where she lives and teaches fitness, yoga and SUP. Starting out casually with just a few boards, she told us, “It took on a life of its own.” Now Hardes has a container of paddleboards right on the beach:
Paddling is good for all ages. Kids can do it, elderly people can do it. We have super sturdy boards for that reason; I want everyone to have a good experience.
To book: Call 416-834-5801
WSUP partner and owner of TorontoBeachKayak.ca, Jessica Campbell, is an accomplished open water swimmer who loves getting people out on the water for the first time. She told us:
“Kayaking is so fulfilling because it’s accessible to everyone. I meet a lot of new Canadians who’ve never been on the water. They don’t know how to swim, they’re scared of the water, but they’re curious. On a flat water day, all bundled up in their life jackets, I get them out and see a lot of beaming faces coming back.”
Kayaking is so fulfilling because it’s accessible to everyone. I meet a lot of new Canadians who’ve never been on the water…I get them out and see a lot of beaming faces coming back.
Campbell rents super stable recreational kayaks with wide open cockpits, “If you flip, you fall out of it; you can’t get trapped.” They’re also good for sitting with your feet up, just bobbing on the waves, enjoying the scenery.
To book: Call 416-629-6040
A few nautical knots away, by the lifeguard station on Balmy Beach, lives SUP Master Trainer Diana Aziz. “Water is my philosophy,” she tells us, and paddling is her life. A true adventurer, Aziz loves teaching people how to paddleboard, and is a great believer in paddleboard yoga and Pilates.
Paddling is a great core workout that any age and any ability can do, she says. The trick is to find the sweet spot on the board where you balance your weight.
Just focus on the horizon and soak up the best views of the city
Sunrise and sunset paddles are one of the biggest attractions and the perfect way to start and end your day.
To book: Call 416-725-7735
Natalie Secretan is a self-confessed word nerd and owner of Blogwitt.com, with a background in communications, content marketing, and journalism. A former fitness leader, she also writes on a variety of topics including health, wellness, and lifestyle.