It's not as hard as it looks, and it's another great way to get on the lake.

"Everyday is a good day to be on the lake," said Jemma Wahl, who owns Minnesota Mermaid Paddle Board Rental on Prior Lake. 

Wahl has been giving individual and group lessons on Prior Lake for the last six summers now, offering rentals and big-group gatherings to anyone who wants to stand up on a board and make their way around the water. Boards are available for rental on the dock at Charlie's on Prior.

Wahl is also a math teacher at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake and a Minnesota Center for Advanced Professional Studies instructor, so her winter months are spent in a different classroom.

With the coronavirus pandemic altering the school setting starting in March, Wahl said it's nice to get back to some normalcy with her summer job.

"It's been a great summer; business has definitely been good," Wahl said. "I love to be out on the lake. I think everyone likes to be on the lake. It's a stress reliever."

Paddle boarding can be a full body workout too, but in a fun way. It can help build muscle, improve posture and increase core strength.

"It's definitely a full body exercise, but you are having fun doing it so you don't even feel it," Wahl said. "It's not as hard as it looks. After a lesson, a lot of people say that was easier than I thought it would be."

If you are really adventurous, Minnesota Mermaid also offers paddle board Pilates. So one can strengthen the body and calm the mind on a board in the water doing yoga poses.

Paddle boarding combines kayaking with surfing, minus the huge waves. It started in Hawaii in the mid-1990s when professional surfers were looking to make a variation to their sport. 

It has since grown in popularity throughout the country.

With the pandemic limiting or cancelling many traditional summer sports and activities, Wahl has seen an uptick in new paddle boarders. She said it's been her top summer for new lessons. 

There's been paddle board birthday parties, more families on the water and plenty of small groups of friends who want to get out and enjoy the sun and the lake.

"I've done tons of lessons," Wahl said. "I think people want to try something new. They want to escape the cities, come to the lake and do something different. I have had people come up from Rochester to take lessons."

Wahl, a 2008 graduate of Prior Lake High School, grew up on the lake, her grandparents live on it. That's how she got hooked on paddle boarding and eventually was able to turn her summer hobby into a business.

"It's a great way to enjoy the summer months," she said.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.


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