Okobojians and visitors to the Iowa Great Lakes have always sought the active lifestyle. For decades, water sports have been a way of enjoying the lakes and staying in shape, too. Water skiing is still a staple here, but sometimes takes a back seat these days to the New Wave of wake boarding, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding and now water biking. Yoga instructors are even being coaxed out of the studio to the lakeshore and beyond. Add traditional yoga and running, biking and hiking the Dickinson County Trails and you have endless, fun ways to keep fit in Iowa’s premier vacationland.
And don’t think you have to be twenty-something with no body fat and an insatiable appetite for power workouts. Any reasonably fit individual – even those of us with decades of wear – can find an exercise niche to fit their taste and capabilities. Peddling and paddling is the new rage at the lakes, and you will find plenty of active aspirants of all ages out there finding their groove.
If you visit Okoboji Expedition Company with the purpose of learning the latest trends in pedaling sports, Taylor Huseman and Drew Mills are probably going to tell you to take a bike out on the lake. Hold on before you call them crazy, because water bikes are indeed one of the newest rages!
Schiller Bikes has created an aquatic riding experience that is sure to explode in popularity. Essentially it is a bike framed in between two pontoons, designed to glide across the water with a safe, stable design and construction. Devotees are water cycling with manatees in Florida and racing alongside pods of dolphins in California. Huseman and Mills are already veterans of biking the waters of the Iowa Great Lakes, and their enthusiasm for the newfound aquatic travel is racing through the streams of social media.
Okoboji Expedition has also become a center of attraction for the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) mania. SOL Paddle Boards, an innovative company based out of Colorado, has taken the turned the traditional, stiff-boarded SUP industry upside down. They have created a line of inflatable, flexible SUPs that, when coupled with their equally mobile accessories, can all be stashed into a backpack and carried to the water’s edge.
Of course Okoboji Expedition has not abandoned the products that first put it on the map, bicycles. With several industry leading names to choose from, Huseman and Mills can custom fit a bike that fits your physique and desired level of determination: Road bikes, mountain bikes and the newest heavy framed ‘fat tire’ bikes that can be ridden over terrain never thought possible.
Another popular aquatic workout is aboard kayaks. Huseman and Mills have begun building an inventory of Riot touring kayaks, built for performance and performance. “As with any water sport, kayaking can be whatever you want it to be,” Huseman said. “You may choose a long, narrow boat or a short, wide model. The key is to figure out how you want to use it. You can paddle leisurely in quiet conditions or really get it going and burn your biceps and abs.”
Some locals have taken to custom designed workouts employing the paddling philosophy. One such tour involves power stroking a SUP from the beach at Arnolds Park Amusement Park to the Dry Dock and back, followed by a 5K run.
Amanda Jorgensen of The Studio Yoga & Bar in Spencer is passionate about boarding and yoga and has melded both into on-the-water adventures on West Lake Okoboji. That’s right, if you take a class with Jorgensen you just might end up doing headstands on a SUP. “Practicing certain yoga disciplines on a board is exhilarating,” Jorgensen said.
The water sports pro at Okoboji Boat Works in Smith’s Bay on West Lake Okoboji, Jeremy Snow, specializes in easing the anxieties of first-time boarders. “I start with the techniques of handling a SUP,” Snow said. “My clients learn good, erect posture and how not to overreach their comfort zone, making them comfortable and capable.” Snow also excels at wind surfing and wake boarding and teaches those skills as well.