Double Handed Boof Stroke

Double Handed Boof Stroke

The key to bellyak success in whitewater (or any craft)  is maintaining boat control.  A boof is a kayak term used to describe taking a powerful stroke to lift the bow of the boat and accelerate it over features, and to keep the bow from diving. The double handed boof stroke is like a butterfly stroke in swimming.

How to Do the Stroke:

Step 1: Reach forward, right before your bow hits the feature.

Step 2: As you pull the boat past you, lift up your chest to give exra oomph to the stroke.

This does two things, it unweights the bow of the boat, and accelerates you forward allowing you to ‘skip’ over features. This also is useful for crossing eddy lines, launching off of waves, and anytime you need a little extra throttle. The planing hulls of the bellyaks allow them to accelerate quickly, making this an effective last minute stroke.

Step 3:

Finish the stroke by coming back to forward, and keep paddling!



Trouble Shooting:

Pre-Boofing: boofing too soon causes you to accelerate and land in the hole, and then lose control. Wait until your bow is touching the feature to initiate your boof. Imagine reaching forward and pulling yourself over the feature as opposed to pushing through it.

Diving/getting flipped: You may have the stroke timing correct, but if you don’t unweight the bow by lifting your chest as you boof you will cause the bow to dive under, and thus lose control.

Landing and getting flipped: Once you boof through the feature, maintain your momentum by going back to the alternating sweep stroke  to maintain your speed!


Side Effects: The Stages of Boof Face

Pre Boof Face


Boof Face Proper

Post Boof Face

Launching a Wave Face

Having fun on a bellyak

50 Must-Do Things This Summer

Spring has sprung and Summer is upon us. We want to do EVERYTHING while we frolic in the sun, but here is our top 50. Can you do them all?

Pet a dog

1. Pet a dog

We thought we’d start you out with an easy (most super fun) one. With puppers in public more and more these days, it’s easy to spot a furry friend in need of some love. Just be nice and make sure you ask first!

otters holding hands

2. Hold hands with an otter

You can’t look at these little guys and not want to give that little furry paw a squeeze! These playful little fluffs will often hold hands while they float in order to stay close. If you’re lucky, you can get a whole romp of otters to accept you as their one and only. You can all raft together!

3. Eat a 1lb burrito

If you hit a Wednesday night and realize that you’re not knocking off enough items from your bucket list, you can always count on a burrito to save you. Apparently, we are also counting *two* ½ pound burritos from Taco Bell if you are in a crunch!

cute racoon

3. Give a raccoon a forever home

Once the otters have accepted you, you should have enough animal clout to move into raccoon territory. You’re way past dogs (you’ve already petted one) so get out there and adopt the ring-tailed forest puppy of your dreams!

burrito 4. Eat a 10lb burrito

You may be thinking that a 10 pound burrito seems a bit difficult. How soon you forget that you have been welcomed into a romp of otters and you have a raccoon with a bandana on at home. We believe in you!

Bellyaking on the river

5. Bellyak on 5 different rivers

Summer is the perfect time to get out and break in that brand new Bellyak. Choose from a number of whitewater options and get paddling!

Big Ben in London

6. Go to England

Are you curious about the origin of Fish and Chips? Do you want to know who Paul Revere warned us about? Are you a fan of really big clocks? Go to England! Enjoy some time overseas and get to know the motherland!

7. Try a hike you’ve never been on

These are super easy to find if you’re ever been on any social media ever. Challenge yourself with a long or more strenuous hike than you usually do – bonus points if you leave your state!

Bellyaking on the river

8. Take your friend bellyaking

Sharing is caring! Are you really a real friend if you have discovered the joys of bellyaking and not taken your buddy ol’ pal? (Hint: no, you are not) But! You can easily remedy that by taking them this summer! Choose one of your new rivers and hit it together!

9. Swim in a mountain lake

The Southeast is full of swimming holes, rivers and lakes that are just begging to be jumped in! (You can even bring your bellyak buddy!)

10. Pee in your wetsuit while surfing

Hate being cold? Us too! Save time and body heat by peeing in your wetsuit while you’re surfing! It’s much more challenging then you would think!

concert crowd11. Go to an outdoor concert

If you have never been to an outdoor summer concert, you are absolutely missing out. We’re warming you up for full-blown Bonnaroo with a few hundred of your closest friends singing the best music! And the long lines at the porta-potty with complete strangers always leads to great connections!

12. Go night swimming

We aren’t sure what it is, but something about swimming in the dark makes it feel about 1,000 times cooler. Maybe it’s the anxiety of knowing all of the nighttime predators are now awake and only inches from your vital organs. Either way, the experience is worth the rush!

Cup of coffee

13. Use a fake name to order coffee

If you are a Sam and you go with Joe, then you are officially no fun. But go to one of those places that calls out your order and give them the name you’ve always wanted (or thought was hilarious). Bonus points if you let them yell it more than once, and double points if you use Barack Obama. Or shootingfishjumpingstarrainbow, if you’re in Asheville.

14. Cook with a vegetable you’ve never heard of

If you have a local co-op or a farmers market, you should definitely go and pick out something that you’ve never seen or heard of and look up how you’re supposed to cook it. Prepare it for yourself or for friends. You never know, you could love it and gain mega hipster points.

Yoga on the bellyak

15. Attempt Bellyak Yoga

We are giving out all of the A’s for effort on this one. We don’t think it’s fair to have great loves and have to keep them apart. So get your waterproof yoga pants on (or take them off!) and stretch it out! You might find a new favorite way to mount your bellyak in the process! (or get really good at getting on out of the water).

16. Say yes to everything for a whole day

You don’t have to be full-on Jim Carey, but open yourself up to some new opportunities by saying yes to whatever comes your way!

shelter dogs

17. Pet all the dogs in a shelter

Since you’re already a dog-petting pro, we challenge you to test your skills at a shelter. You can volunteer, or just drop by to shower some welcome attention on all the doggos!

18. Run a half marathon

You’ve been trail running forever, now is the time to put your skills to the test. Shake up your workout routine by setting a specific half-marathon race as your goal.

bike to work19. Bike to Work

No matter if your commute is short or long, hop on a bike for your morning commute. (You can still drop off your kids!)

20. Fish for dinner (without backup)

Time to put your super survival skills to the test. We know you’re a great fisherperson, but now is the time to prove it to your stomach. Catch, clean and eat your hard work for a satisfying supper!

aerial yoga

21. Take an aerial yoga class

Built for all types of fitness levels, aerial yoga, is becoming more and more popular throughout North America. Check the location you choose’s site for a possible free trial class!

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22. Go live on Instagram for five minutes

For those of you who do this all the time, this should be no big deal, but for those who have never done it before, take it as an opportunity to step out of your box and connect with people! It doesn’t matter how many people watch, it’s about being comfortable with yo’ self!

turtle in the road23. Save a turtle from the road

We’re not sure why the turtles tend to cross the road out in the summer heat (maybe running late for a meeting with a chicken), but we feel we can help them reach their destination more safely! Turtle heroes unite!

24. Tie-dye something

Whatever fabric you can find that could use a little sprucing up is fair game. Grab some rubber bands and dye and a big bucket and get colorful  for the summer months! We like bandanas and shoelaces!

homemade bread

25. Make bread from scratch

We know, we continue to test your kitchen skills, but making bread by yourself from scratch is almost as satisfying as actually eating it!

26. Donate your time to a local cause

Give back a little this summer Season by getting involved in a local non-profit or organization! You’ll help people AND have the best time. In the Asheville, NC area? Check out More Heart Than Scars – an organization that assists individuals facing physical and or mental scars/challenges to help realize they can live beyond them.

dancing27. Try Contra dancing

Another way to stay in summer shape without the gym. Contra lessons can be super fun and the people you meet are just friends you haven’t met yet!  (Be prepared to sweat!) If the music doesn’t move you then smell of the unwashed masses will!


28. Have Campfire Karaoke

Warm up those vocal cord with some hot chocolate and bring out the radio. Go around the circle and take turns belting out whichever ones you know. You might even scare away the bears!

29. Go on an unplanned weekend road trip

Pack up one Friday after work and just drive until it feels right. Try a new restaurant, sleep in your car, spend a day at the beach, whatever sounds like the perfect complement to a spontaneous weekend!

hand-fed squirrel

30. Hand feed a squirrel

You are a wilderness god/goddess!

31. Hike to the highest peak in your state

You can expand your knowledge of your area by getting out and exploring the range! (We will accept border states if your highest peak is an active volcano)

international currency32. Buy something with foreign currency

Depending on the lengths of your summer travel, this may become more of a barter, but  deciphering exchange rates is a skill you never know you need until you need it! Practice now!

33. Get a henna tattoo

Calling all commitment phobes! Get an awesome henna tattoo and enjoy your art for just under a month! Bonus points if you are a male and get a tramp stamp.

Pet date!

34. Go on a date with your pet

Show that special furry someone how much they mean to you with a pet date! Take them to their favorite park, and maybe pick up a pup cup along the way! If they want to slow-dance, well that’s up to you!

35.Have a tech-free day

Unplug and get outside for a whole day. You’ll be surprised at how relaxing it can be to get away from responsibility for just 24 hours!

36.Volunteer locally for a day

Anywhere you want to volunteer would be an excellent way to spend a fantastic summer day. We totally encourage you to keep this one up after summer is gone!

breakfast food37. Have breakfast for dinner

Brinner is the breakfast (for dinner) of champions! Brinner comes in clutch when you’re short on groceries or just craving that good good bacon after 5:00p.m. Take our word for it – it’s addicting!

Bellyaking on Lake Jocassee

38. Hang out at a weekly Bellyak demo

New to the world of prone paddling? Great! Come give Bellyak a try at one of our many demos and clinics!

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39. Ride a unicycle

By labor day, you will be a Jack/Jill of all trades! Go to We hear it also makes you taller!

40. Eat tacos for every meal

Because you truly haven’t lived until you’ve had a brunch taco!

library books

41. Go to a bookstore and read the first book you find

We love to stumble upon great things that we would have otherwise missed (duh, Bellyaking). WE think the same would be great with reading!

42. Go Zip-lining!

Need a baby step before your first bungee jump or skydiving session? Go zip-lining! We recommend zip-lining through the forest or a gorge!

43. Take a class at the local community college

Community Colleges have so many cool classes you can take to add a new skill or just have some fun! Don’t worry about sending your transcripts or making a schedule, because most are open enrollment!


44. Try a new local restaurant

Everyone we know has “their place” that is a hole-in-the-wall that no one has ever heard of, but it is so good. We think it’s time you found yours!

45. Do a scavenger hunt with your friends

Be creative, and get out either in your town, or the woods or even a new place and come up with a list “things” they need to collect or activities they need to do. Photos are your evidence!

46. Try a comedy club

Let off some summer steam by gathering your friends and going out to a comedy club for a night. Listen to local talent, or buy tickets to a big show.

47. Plan a big summer road trip

In contrast to your weekend getaway to who knows where, plan a big road trip to something you have always wanted to see/do. Pack great road trip snacks, cool stops and bring great music.

summer garden product

48. Have dinner from your garden

All of your hard work from planting this spring, can come straight to the table for an Al Fresco summer meal. Don’t forget all of your great herbs!

49. Watch a familiar movie in a Foreign language

Expand your brain with something you already know you love! Also find funny words in another language you can use later.

Water Balloons

50. Water balloon dodgeball

The only logical last item is always dodgeball. Take advantage of the summer sun by getting outside and have a good ol’ fashioned water fight. Lines and actual rules optional.

Whatever you get up to this Summer, we hope it’s fun, fabulous and outdoors! Happy Summer!

Bellyak racers at the finish

Bellyak World Championships – Race Recap

On May 27th Bellyak hosted the first annual “Race for a Cause” as part of the Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville NC. Race day brought water levels on the high side of perfect! The Class 1 river felt like it was moving faster than it was had it been lower.  After an ambiguous mass start, 13 racers completed the 1.5 mile sprint from French Broad Outfitters at Hominy Creek to Carrier Park.

Bellyak world championships

Race Recap

William Blakely represented the adaptive side of Team Bellyak, winning the adaptive category and coming in 9th overall. Eli Masters (nephew of the founder) won the kids division, and Dominic *surname unknown* took the overall win. Genuine plastic trophies were given, webbed high fives were shared all around, and $72 was raised for Our Voice. Our Voice is a local nonprofit in pursuit of a community free of sexual violence.
Bellyak crew
All in all, the best inaugural Bellyak World Championships we could have imagined!

Future Races!

Bellyak Burpee Challenge

Bellyak Burpee Challenge!

Do you have abs of steel and a thirst for winning? Then we have the challenge for you! The Bellyak Burpee Challenge! A play on the regular burpee found regularly in CrossFit and fitness workouts, this version uses all the same technique but is styled out on your bellyak! Take a gander:

Think you can beat Jaime’s 19? We want to see! Submit your videos by sharing them with us on Facebook! Just tag @bellyak and use #bellyakburpee! Winner’s will receive this limited-edition hat!

Bellyak Hat

Other than being super fun, the bellyak burpee also helps improve:

  • Core Strength
  • Agility
  • Explosive Power
  • Stability

Have fun and good luck!

Swimming next to a bellyak

Cross Training for Swimming with the Bellyak

As a kayaker, swimming is to be avoided at all costs. If you swim, it means you came out of your boat because you didn’t roll. Your friends then have to round up all your gear, help you get to shore, drain your boat, and get started again. Plus, there’s the odd custom of having to drink a beer out of your shoe to pay penance to the river gods. It’s exhausting! After swimming in whitewater a few times, most kayakers hit the pool. Not to swim laps, but to perfect their roll.


Why would you Swim on a Bellyak

If you’ve already read this far, you know the bellyak combines the best elements of swimming and boating into one awesome 8′ long piece of lifestyle enhancing polyethylene. Say that 10 times fast. Not only does the bellyak help swimmers to develop a better ‘catch‘ as it forces you to keep your elbows high, it also allows you to swim in places you may not have thought about before. Think shallow rivers, brackish water, poop-filled lagoons, dirty swimming pools, and algae filled lakes.


Other reasons bellyaks are a great tool for swimmers:

  1. They build specific strength
  2. Improve stroke technique
  3. Develop Core Power
  4. Give your brain a break from swimming laps
  5. Give your eyes a break from staring at the bottom of the pool
  6. Help give the lower body a break in case of injury/fatigue

A Swimming Escort’s Dream

No, not having The Rock as your Baywatch style lifeguard. The bellyak is also the perfect craft for a swimming escorts during open water swims and training.


Escort swimming with a bellyak

Open water swimming has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with events popping up nationwide. What is open water swimming? Open water swimming takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as open oceans, lakes and rivers. Most open water swimmers employ some form of escort boat to provide water, snacks and safety. Typically, these are kayaks or paddleboards.

Bellyaks and Open Water Swimming

Bellyaks are a great alternative to kayaks and paddleboards for one HUGE reason. No paddles. Adam Masters – founder of bellyak – has a healthy fear of paddles. He’s typically one of a few prone river paddlers in a sea of kayaks, all with their paddles at face level. So he knows what it’s like to be in the water with the potential of a paddle to the face at any moment. Open water swimmers get this too! A bellyak, on the other hand, is powered with webbed gloves worn on hands. So – at a push – the most you’ll get is a gentle caress to the face.

They also make a great surface area for storing water bottles, energy gels and extra equipment. Plus lots of room for tired swimmers to perch while getting their breath back.

Bellyaking in open water

Let’s swim over there! Why? Because it’s there!

Bellyak serving as a rest station for an open water swimmer

Nice mountain view to quench ones thirst

Bellyaking at a safe distance from an open water swimmer

Let’s go this way now

So, if you’re looking for fun, new alternative to cross training for swimming, or if you’re an open water swimming escort, the bellyak may just be the tool for you. If nothing else, it will make a good summer floaty for your off days.

The Bellyaker

The Whitewater Tribe Addition – the Bellyaker

Recently, Canoe & Kayak Magazine published a super fun article by the very talented Adam Nawrot, The Whitewater Tribe. We laughed, we cried, we seriously questioned that lower back tattoo we got. Then we realized….there was something missing! The Bellyaker!

The Bellyaker

You’re welcome, world. You’re welcome.

Bellyak lesson at the National Whitewater Center

From Bobsled to Bellyak – A Completely Normal Journey


Name: Natalie DeRatt

Age: 28

Bellyak Experience: 0

First Track: National Whitewater Center

Bellyak Used: Play 35

In my short life, 18 years has been dedicated to a sport. 12 of those years have been dedicated to competitive sports, and 3 of those years have been spent bobsledding professionally, for both Team USA and Great Britain. Up until recently, it was bobsledding that has given me the biggest thrill – hurtling down  mile-long ice tracks at speeds averaging 75 mph with no way out. That’s until I tried bellyaking at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC.


My bellyak background

Based in Asheville, NC, I’ve seen bellyaking before – floating down the river, pictures of them in the surf, and spending lazy days on the beautiful waters of Lake Jocassee.  However, nothing could prepare me for the experience of bellyaking in whitewater. The premise is simple: You hop on, you lay on your belly, you use your arms to direct you. But, what isn’t obvious is your connection with the water. Every little move – a slight lean to the right, a little turn to the left – all affect your ride, and so within minutes of trying one for the first time I felt like I was connected to the water (as frilly as that sounds). Within an hour, I was going down Class III rapids, and loving it.

Bellyak lesson at the National Whitewater Center

My bellyak fears

I’m not going to lie, I’m not the strongest swimmer. My biggest worry was getting knocked off my bellyak in a rapid, sinking to the bottom, and never being heard from again. I came to find out this was way too dramatic of me. It’s actually super easy to just hop back on if you are sent swimming because there are no spray skirts involved and you’re on the boat and not in it. Plus, the bellyak is so buoyant, it took quite the splash to send this lack-of-experience ‘yaker into the water. Imagine if you actually knew what you were doing?!


I Became Michael Phelps

Although I was the most exhausted human in North Carolina after spending the afternoon bellyaking, it was the biggest thrill I’d had in a long time. While in driving school for bobsled, they let us try skeleton for a couple of runs – the bellyak of the ice. You simply lay on the sled, hold on tight, and ride the ride to the icy bottom. Having now done both, I can tell you bellyaking was SO much more fun. A sort of swimming/ kayaking hybrid, you feel you are literally flying through the water. Or swimming really, really fast. Like faster than Michael Phelps fast. Probably faster than Aquaman too. And it was so intuitive! You treat the boat as if it was an extension of your body.

Bellyaking at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte

Don’t Judge a Bellyak by its Bellyak

What did I learn from this experience? I learned you should never judge an outdoor activity by its cover. I learned that even if you’re not the best swimmer in the world, bellyaking is perfect for you (p.s. Always wear a life jacket). And I learned that exhilaration and adrenaline are available outside of winter sports and roller coasters, and they’re much, much closer than you think! As for  me, I’m already plotting my next bellyak adventure.

The team at the finish

More Heart Than Scars

Paddling rivers is fun. It’s exhilarating to put on a whitewater river and know that you are going to travel several miles with nothing but a paddle and a purpose built boat. It’s also easy to take it for granted. Getting in and out of a boat and using our arms to propel it forward may seem simple, but can be incredible challenging to others – adaptive athletes. Through the evolution of the bellyak however, we’ve discovered a way to open up the same exhilaration to the differently-abled too.

From Toy to Tool for Transforming Lives

Bellyaks started out as an awesome way to play on the river in a high performance toy designed to navigate whitewater. In the process of using them, we realized that eliminating the sprayskirt and shortening the learning curve of traditional kayaking doesn’t just offer an insanely fun way to experience nature and get a workout. It also offers a solution for adaptive athletes no other product does. Swimming (or kayaking) isn’t always that easy, or even possible. But, through an intuitive and easy to use package, bellyaks allow these athletes to experience mobility, balance and exercise in a new way. As a result, the bellyak has become a tool that helps people transcend their scars and focus on the experience of NOW and who they want to become. As a business owner, seeing the experiences of people like William Blakely and Kyle Morgan have made me realize how important this is. Far more than just having a fun way to go down rivers.

More Heart Than Scars

We’ve recently been actively looking for more ways to get involved with adaptive athletes and those who would benefit from our innovative designs. With this in mind, we set up a booth at our local MS Walk to support their cause and to introduce people to the bellyak. The first person we met was a big, friendly, bearded guy named Zackary Paben, or Nubs as his friends call him. Zack, it turned out, is the founder of an amazing non-profit: More Heart Than Scars. Their mission:

For people with More Heart Than Scars
& their loved ones.
From trauma to disease,
together we transcend
our visible and invisible scars!

How They Help Adaptive Athletes

Among other things, Zack helps differently-abled people compete in Spartan Races – innovative obstacle courses held around the world. In the past, Zack would rig up all manner of sled-like contraptions to get his competitors through the mud pits, under the barbed wire, and as a means of transport. A lifelong paddler, he had been dreaming of something that was light, tough, durable, versatile and stable for mud, water and snow that kept the person using it safe. When he saw the bellyak, he knew immediately it was the piece of gear he was looking for. And I knew he was the person and organization I was looking for.

More Heart than Scars and Bellyak pose for a picture

Our Partnership

Bellyak is the first official corporate sponsor of More Heart Than Scars. Our missions align perfectly. They will be using the bellyak as a lightweight adventure sled for their upcoming season of Spartan Races. In fact, they’ve already taken the bellyak out for a spin in the Charlotte Spartan Race, and had a great time:

“Bellyak made it possible for Jesi Stracham, Miss Wheelchair NC 2017, to surf the mud pits with more stability, independence and fun than any of our other spinal cord injured MHTS athletes ever have before. A new world of adventure possibilities has oped with this amazing versatile craft called the Bellyak!”

Using the bellyak for a mud obstacle




Using the bellyak for a mud obstacle

The team at the finish The cutest team mascot

The Future

Through our collaboration, we are going to help get many more people to experience the freedom and mobility of bellyak specifically within Spartan Races. Together we will make a difference in the world, helping show what’s possible and reinforcing that we can better transcend our scars inside and out, together.

For more information on More Heart Than Scars, check out their Facebook page:

5 Things to Expect Your First Time on a Bellyak

You’ve seen the Instagram pics, watched a video, and are ready to get on a bellyak for the first time! But what should you expect? Here’s a five of the most common things to expect when you pop your bellyak cherry:

Bellyaking on the Ocoee River

1. It’s easier…and harder than you may expect

Since there are no straps or a sprayskirt, a bellyak is much more accessible than a traditional kayak. In this sense, it’s much easier to get started. Most people master the bellyak roll within the first 15 minutes, and if you do come off self-rescue is very easy. However, it’s much more physically demanding than you would expect…the bellyak requires driving as opposed to just hanging on and riding. On whitewater, it’s as physically demanding as jogging or swimming. The key is to work with the water, and not against it. The bellyak is designed to glide efficiently across the water, and will teach you how to work with the subtleties of the current.

Having fun on a bellyak

2. You’ll never get bored

Bellyaking is fun to do because laying down and “swimming” is intuitive for almost everyone. There is also a long life of  skill progression because there are so many variations and subtleties to paddling the boat, from just getting down the river, to surfing waves, to performing more advanced freestyle tricks. Since your hands are in the water while paddling prone, you are able to feel the nuances of the river in a way unmatched by any other watercraft. Your paddling will become incredibly precise as you find the most efficient ways to move downstream. Since you are not attached to the boat or stuck in one position, variety is the name of the game.

Bellyaking on Lake Jocassee

3. Your first time doesn’t have to be long

The ideal length of time for someone’s first trip is approximately 1-1.5 hours. This equates to 2-3 miles, or approximately 5km if you are moving downstream (and European). Steady moving water with a little flatwater is best since it allows the user to experience flowing with the river and experiencing edge control in a safe environment. Small water seems big because you are at face level. If you are trying it on flatwater, you will soon master the skill of going straight and you can paddle it as long as you want.

Dressed to stay warm on the water

4. Dress for Success

You must dress for the water temperature when paddling a bellyak. You will get wet! If it’s chilly outside, make sure you dress appropriately with a good drysuit. In the summer time, bike tights work great for reducing the dreaded ‘calf burn.’ Another great option in warmer months is a 3/2 wetsuit for surfing, which will give you give you options for a wide variety of water/air temperatures.

Bellyaks make you smile the first time, and every time!

5. Don’t Underestimate the Bellyak

If you already kayak, keep in mind the bellyak will add one degree of difficulty and challenge to a familiar run. Before your first time, make sure you eat a breakfast of pancakes and sausages and get a good nights sleep. You will be wet and tired. But most likely wet, tired and smiling, which is the goal!

Think you want to try one out for yourself now? Check out our bellyak sale page for some sweet, dollar saving deals!


Sitting and kneeling on a bellyak

High Performance Bellyak Training: Volume II

In High Performance Bellyak Training: Volume I, we focused on lower lumbar stability and how it enhances the prone position while paddling. Also life. But what comes first, flexibility or stability? The egg. In other words, if the body cannot stabilize itself correctly – no matter how flexible you are it will find another (read incorrect) way. Ultimately, this will lead to stiff joints and uncomfortable exercise.

Now that we are all confused, let’s get in there and get mobile! In this volume, we’re aiming for functional posture and optimal performance on the water.

Stabilizing the Lower Back

Let’s start out with another key Foundation Training exercise: “Prone Decompression”. A perfect tool for all you prone paddlers! This is a great continuation from last week, as it teaches you how to stabilize the pelvis and elongate your torso.

Moving to the bellyak

Now your lower back is balling, let’s step it up a notch. Transitions on the bellyak are not necessary but important to learn if you want to get into more advanced pellyaking. Being able to transition quickly from prone to kneeling is helpful when surfing a wave or if you just want to change up your paddle position.

Sitting and kneeling on a bellyak

Using Training Accessories

What better way to work on stability, than finding a stability ball and bringing back the ol’ knee tuck (below). When you first do this one work on stabilizing your core muscle groups and doing it slowly and with proper form. To break it down, place your hands shoulder width apart and place your feet onto the ball. Make sure your pelvis isn’t sagging. Use your core activating muscle technique we learned last time by gently squeezing your thighs together to protect and strengthen your lower spine and go ahead and imagine sinking your belly button back into your spine. This should activate the majority of the muscles that connect to your pelvis, aka your core muscles. Take a big inhale and as you exhale tuck your knees into your chest. Do this nice and slow as you might be wobbly at first, in 3 or more sets of 5-10. Make sure you continue to support your stabilizing core muscles. As time passes, try doing it quicker while still maintaining proper form and you will be on your way to becoming an elite bellyak trickster. 

Mastered the knee to chest? There are loads of great stability ball exercises to get your core rockin’!

So why all the exercises?

Let me explain with a story. Grab some tea and a loved one and settle in for this one. Once upon a time on the Ocoee river in Eastern Tennessee, I was getting my surf trick on. Really feeling confident and nervous all at the same time as the eddies were full of Mambas watching me in between spotted roll practices and hand of God rescues. I went to go for what seemed to be the easiest surf transition; Prone to kneeling. Only to find out I had one type of muscle group, slow and not reactionary. It wasn’t going to cut it. I may have been strong at that point in my bellyak career, but quick I was not. The time that elapsed from my prone to kneeling position was enough to kick me off the wave every time. Horrified and ashamed, I paddled the rest of the way down the river, belly down to go on with my quest for faster muscles.