KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Surfing isn't just for residents in coastal cities. And who said water was necessary?
If surfing is a much-loved pastime or getting a good workout is the goal, land paddling may provide both the workout and experience.
Land paddling is similar to stand-up paddling in the ocean or on a lake, but instead of using a paddle to drive through the water, land paddling uses a custom paddle with a hard rubber grip on the tip to propel oneself down the road or across the pavement on a longboard skateboard. The concept has been around since about 2008.
Abe Kiggins and twin brother, David, are passionate surfers who began their company, Billy Lush Brand, in June 2011. The company offers longboard skateboards for purchase as well as free individual and group land-paddling classes.
Abe Kiggins, 33, of Powell, Tenn., has spent the past eight years working as an assistant trainer with the University of Tennessee's athletic department. While assisting other athletes in their sport, he was cooking up a plan to put his own pastime into practice on land.
"Surfing to me is not about a sport; it's about a lifestyle," he said. "It's something that runs deep in the Kiggins family. We are passionate about the beach, sun and surf, and I think we would all be content to leave our jobs, material things and the stress of the world behind if we could all live together on the beach once again."
Kiggins was born in California and moved to Arkansas when he was 2 years old. His family eventually ended up on the Florida Panhandle in the Pensacola area.
With a desire to continue his passion for surfing he started his company, which sells boards from its website, www.billylushbrand.com.
"I think Billy Lush makes me feel close to the beach even though I am hundreds of miles away. When I first started shaping my own boards in my garage here in Knoxville, I felt as though I was filling a void that I was missing for so many years being away from the water. It's something that I can share with the rest of the world," he said.
Kiggins began making the boards himself by hand, but as demand increased, he has enlisted the help of mechanical engineer Adan Akerman to design, cut out, shape and sand each board and woodworker Steve Hanks to paint, stain and finish them. Kiggins then does the assembly, adding the wheels.
Kiggins says he aims to make fitness fun and believes land paddling fulfills that purpose. It offers an alternative to traditional exercise equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals. The push motion of the paddle and stability required to stand on the board makes it suitable for a total body workout including core, back, shoulders, arms and legs.
"Stand-up paddling and land paddling are beginning to sweep the nation — not only as an expansion of the carefree, revolutionary attitude of the surfer, but also as a way to combine fun and fitness. The reason I am so passionate about land paddling is because it gives me the opportunity to show people that you can still have fun while increasing your overall physical fitness and well-being," said Kiggins.
And Kiggins says it's for everyone.
"The learning curve is very small. We take people of all age groups and skill levels and slowly introduce them to the sport. As the individuals become comfortable with the feel of the board and the mechanics, we start encouraging them to use land paddling as a form of cardio and we take them out for longer paddle sessions. Each and every day you will begin to see improvement in overall strength and balance," he said.
Billy Lush Brand longboards are custom-made and cost $159 to $396. The paddles he uses to accommodate the boards are "Kahuna Big Sticks" from Kahuna Creations, inventor of the land paddle. The sticks range from $90 to $190.