WATERLOO – Maxx Rentals is turning the world of Cedar Valley watersports upside down with the area’s first standup paddle board yoga classes.
Owner Jeremiah Schwake has partnered with certified yoga instructor Jessica Larsen to offer the fast-growing sport of SUP yoga at the George Wyth State Park beach.
“It’s interesting. I wanted people to try it and enjoy it, and it’s good for you,” he said.
Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that originated in ancient India. It can include breath control, simple meditation and specific bodily postures and is often practiced for health and relaxation.
The challenge with SUP yoga is to balance your body on the board as well as your board on the water.
“I just love yoga, and I love the water, so I thought it was a cool combination,” said Megan Wilmot, who took the class for the first time Thursday evening with her fiancé Henry Gerhardt and friend Lacey Albrecht.
Wilmot is an experienced yogi, but this was her first time on a paddle board.
“I feel like once you fall in the water, you kind of lose that fear of falling in just because you know what it’s like, and from then on, it’s all good,” she said.
“After I fell in the first time by accident, I knew it was fine and I got a little more adventurous.”
Albrecht attempted a few advanced yoga poses, landing herself in the water a few times along with Wilmot. But they also completed several moves, including a backbend, and the “crow pose,” an arm balancing pose in which hands are planted on the floor, shins rest upon upper arms and feet lift up.
Not everyone fell in, but they all left smiling.
“It was actually easier than I expected,” said Helen Harton, also a first-time SUP yoga participant.
The class focuses on physical fitness as well as breathing exercises and relaxation, and Larsen offers several modifications for beginners.
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Larsen became certified in SUP yoga in June 2018 on Lake Michigan.
“I fell in all the time; that’s the fun part,” she said. “It’s about fun and safety.”
From 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting, Larsen gives guests a paddle board and SUP yoga lesson before guiding them out on the lake. Class cost is $30, or $20 if you bring your own board.
The class is for everyone from beginner to advanced yogis and paddle boarders.
Schwake launched Maxx Rentals in 2015 after moving to the Cedar Valley from Elma.
“I fell in love with the water, and I wanted to find something to spend my time doing something I loved,” he said.
He has diversified his business, renting paddle boards, kayaks and paddle boats, and this year offering L.E.D. night tours, or glow floats. A guide takes guests on a tour with underwater L.E.D. light kits attached to kayaks and paddle boards. Times and days vary depending on the weather.
Schwake also plans to add various guided floats on the Cedar River.
Reservations for classes can be made by contacting Schwake at 961-6232 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maxx Rentals is open at the beach daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day at George Wyth State Park. Rentals also are offered at Big Woods Lake most Saturday and Sundays, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Paddle boards, single and tandem kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are available for hourly and day-term rentals. Tubes are available to rent at the lake or to leave the park. A floating water mat also is for rent at the lake.
Rental prices can be found at maxxrentals.com.