Gina Bradley, otherwise known as The Paddle Diva, is not only one of the fittest, strongest, ablest athletes, she is very notably one of the most positive and inspirational women we know. She shares with us her love of Stand Up Paddling in her latest book: Paddle Diva: Ten Guiding Principles to Finding Balance on the Water and in Life. We love Gina's words of wisdom on how we can apply the lessons learned on the board into our daily lives.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from Stand Up Paddling?
That anything is possible. Stand Up Paddling opens your mind. It makes you truly feel enlightened when you look along the shore from the water. I feel like I teach this lesson every day when I am with my students. I like showing them that they can do anything and that this lesson can be applied to life on or off the water, in the now and in their futures.
Who is Stand Up Paddling for? It definitely seems like a challenging and rewarding workout, that's for sure, but it seems like it can be modified for many, from young to old, beginner to advanced. And what do you do if you don’t live by an ocean?
SUP has the capacity to gently move people outside their comfort zones, but in a very approachable way because there is very little actual danger involved. You don’t need to have any special superpowers. Just believe in yourself, trust that you have good balance, know that you can do this, and you will!
Stand Up Paddling is for everyone. I always say, if you can walk, you can paddle.
If you don’t live near the ocean or bay, you are not out of luck! It’s become such a popular sport and pastime that I find that if there is a recreational water spot in a town, they typically have a SUP nearby!
The water intrinsically feels meditative. There is something so beautiful about experiencing its vastness and unpredictability. When you are on your board, how do you mesh the physical experience to the mindful?
It’s very easy to mesh the two experiences. The very nature of the sport requires that you move through the water using your core muscles, arms, and legs. And, as you get into the rhythm of the stroke, you naturally start to get into a meditatitve space. The learning curve is quick! It’s easy for my students to become proficient and really enjoy the amazing SUP experience and benefits.
Are your SUP classes more like yoga classes, or do you and your students chat and talk?
My classes can be whatever the individuals want! That’s why I love working on the water so much. I completely allow and encourage talking amongst the group. It’s part of the experience. Students create lasting bonds as they meet other like-minded souls on the water! I also allow for students to paddle alone and away from the group (but never too far) if they crave the solitude that can make for an amazing experience as well!
Tell us about your new book, Paddle Diva: Ten Guiding Principles to Finding Balance on the Water and in Life. What inspired you to write it?
This book is a 10” x 10” inspirational coffee table book. I have spent so much time on the water, coaching and teaching students how to SUP, and there has yet to be one whom I have not been able to get up and moving along. I always joke, I have yet to be ‘broken’ by a student.
I hope to share the energy and enthusiasm I have in my everyday life, be it on the water or off, with my readers and want them to feel inspired by my principles—and the beautiful photography—to live their best lives and have their best day ever!
My book has three main themes that I want to share: 1) Protect the aquamarine environment: if the oceans and waters are healthy, we will be healthy. 2) Wellness is essential to living a healthy lifestyle: invest in your health, both physical and emotional. And 3) compassion: help those in need when a crisis arises, whether it is large-scale, like a hurricane, or more personal and on a smaller-scale, we must all do our part.
Everyone who has been lucky enough to be with you says the same thing… that you have the most amazing and positive energy and spirit. What can we do to keep that flow in our own lives and keep the good will rolling?
My true secret is that I wake up every day and say the same thing, “It’s a brand, new day.” And I live that particular day like it’s the best gift I have ever received. I find that if you start out positive, even if you don’t have much to be positive about, you can trump ill will and negative energy.
I will give you one of my guiding principles to sum this up: Laugh every day and smile every hour.
That’s what I do. When you are happy, the world around you often has no choice but to be happy too!
Even if our lives don’t allow us to be the water daily, we love the idea that we can be in our daily lives and take Gina's wisdom and inspiration with us. Whether it’s pavement under our feet or the water surrounding us, we can stand up tall, engage intentionally in our environment, and go forth with a Paddle Diva-inspired energy and purpose. Thank you, Gina!