by Chelsea Low
Dan Gretch from the Sacramento State Aquatic Center cites kayaking as one of the
best ways to stay active this summer.
Not only is it a great workout, but, “it’s really peaceful out here on the
water…even when it’s one hundred degrees the water stays cool.” In the dry
summer heat of Folsom, few things could be more refreshing. What’s more, the
venues are endless: Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma, the American River--Gretch said you
could paddle all day and not see the same place twice.
Gretch knows what he’s talking about—he has been paddling his whole life, and seriously
for the last five years. “[Kayaking] is excellent for anybody,” he said.
It’s even beneficial for those looking to lose weight and get active, Gretch said.
“It’s a good workout. You only have to be as aggressive as you want to be.”
He also emphasizes the peaceful environment: just you, the kayak, and the water,
which couldn’t be further from an intimidating gym atmosphere that deters so
many from exercising.
“You can just relax and stay active and go on two hour trips,” he said.
What about for families looking for a dynamic summer activity? “It works very well,”
Gretch said. He explains that with young children, the parents do all the work
paddling. And as for the kids, they can sit on the boat with a paddle so they
feel like they’re paddling the boat too. In addition, CSUS Aquatic Center also
provides miniature kayaks for kids called “yak boards” so they can mimic what
their parents are doing.
The older kids can get involved through summer camps.
“There are different levels depending on age group,” Gretch said. “We get kids into
kayaks, canoes, sailing, windsurfing, and paddling.”
There’s even a camp for wakeboarding and waterskiing. The camps are a week long and
Gretch says they’re popular, with 250 kids attending each camp.
“We actually take them offsite and they get to kayak the lower American River,” he
said. They even take them whitewater rafting. “They have a lot of fun,” Gretch
Kayaking is even accessible to seniors who are looking for ways to stay active. “A lot of
classes I teach have seniors and people who are retired,” said Gretch. “Thirty
percent of people I teach are retired and out here keeping active.” They can
utilize sit-on-top or sit-inside boats, depending on their comfort level. The
staff knows how to make them feel as comfortable and safe as possible, even on
waters uncharted by the average senior.
The sport tends to be unapproachable, though, for those who have never set foot--or
rather, oar--on the water before. Gretch suggests taking a lesson before going
out on the water for the first time, as just taking one class can “teach you
proper form so you don’t hurt your shoulders, get you paddling right, and give
you an idea of what’s in the sport.” Even if you’re a seasoned kayaker, consider
taking a class--Gretch himself took two this past year. “It’s a great way to
touch base on what you’re doing and make sure you’re paddling correctly.”
But regardless of your skill level, Gretch promises that at CSUS Aquatic Center
classes, “We’re going to educate you on how to get into the boat, how to use
them, and how to be safe.”
Kayaking isn’t your thing? “There’s something that works for everybody,” Gretch insists.
Want to try something new? Gretch has suggestions. “You can canoe, you can stay
in and paddle, some people even get into rowing as a competitive team.” Just
like with kayaking, you can take one three-hour class and “learn some skills,
just paddle, [and] learn how to be safe on the equipment.”
River kayaking classes are also offered. Gretch said the class is essentially an
introduction for the paddler: “Here’s the boat, here’s what it’s like in the San
Juan Rapids….It’s nothing serious but fun if you’ve never done it before.”
For the more experienced paddler—perhaps the introduction to river kayaking class is
still too easy for you—there are always more options. The venues in the area are
infinite. “Sierras, rivers around [Folsom]…the ocean, the bay. If you get
comfortable around here you can go for a day tour around San Francisco,” Gretch
said. If you aren’t at ease alone, you can go with a guide and learn about the
area, according to Gretch. And no matter how advanced you are there is always
something new to try, he says. “With kayaking alone you can do touring,
recreational paddling, you can get into more advanced race boats, racing
circuits, riverboats, and whitewater rapids at South Fork. There are so many
different paddling opportunities.”
No matter your skill level, amount of experience, or age, there is a way to get out
on the water that will work for you. It’s a unique way to be active in the
community, though through a medium that may seem unusual. But Gretch encourages
everyone to try. “It opens up huge doors for people,” he said.
Here you can find all of our articles up to 2018.