Did you guys know that stand-up paddleboarding is a sport? Like, a legit, ass-kicking, inspiring, crazy awesome sport? We don’t pretend to know everything here, but we just found out about it and it’s kind of blowing our minds. (Like, it’ll be in the Olympics one day, right? Right?!) Recently, we got to ask Izzi Gomez, current SUP World Champion who basically came of age during the era of stand up paddleboarding’s explosive growth and has pretty much been taking the SUP world by storm.
Raised in surf culture (her grandparents own the oldest surf shop in Florida), Izzi got on her first paddleboard when she was only six and has since won world titles as a teenager and has helped advance women’s paddleboarding to the next level. Wow. Just wow. Read on as we ask her about this emerging new sport!
Can you tell us a little about the sport of SUP?
SUP is the fastest growing water sport in the world. It is an amazing way to enjoy the ocean or explore any body of water. The cool thing about SUP is that anybody can do it, at any age, and even with your pets! I like the fact that it can be such a fun family-oriented hobby or a competitive sport. There is something for everyone, from recreational paddling, racing, SUP surfing, SUP yoga and even fishing from a SUP is a thing!
You’ve been doing SUP since you were very young. Can you tell us a little about how you feel in love with the sport and why?
I saw my brother doing it and it looked like fun. So I thought I would give it a go … and here I am! I love it because it gives me another way to enjoy the ocean.
What was the moment when SUP became not just an activity but a sport for you?
The moment that SUP became a sport for me was when I won my first Stand Up World Tour event at Huntington Beach. I went into it just for fun, with no pressure, and came out realizing that I was actually good at it. So I decided to pursue the dream!
How do you train?
I train in the water and at the gym. In California, I work with my trainer, Ryan Steinhoff at Foundation Fitness. We focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT), and we work on surf specific-movement training. When in Florida, I train at Kinetic Performance, with my trainer, Craig Canubida. We focus on surf specific plyometrics and explosive-movement training. Generally, about a half hour before my sessions, I fuel up with a Red Bull to give me that edge of sustainable energy for my workout. I have also had the opportunity to work with Wim Hof, and I have incorporated his breathing techniques and practice into my everyday life.
What’s a typical day of eating like for you? How does that change when you’re competing or training really hard?
I eat healthy on a daily basis, keeping things in moderation. I recently found out that I am allergic to wheat, gluten and soy, so I’m having to adjust. I like acai bowls for breakfast or scrambled eggs with avocado. Then, I just eat several light snacks throughout the day depending on my activity level. For dinner, I like to make salads, sushi or tacos, nothing too heavy. I do admit, pizza, bagels, and ice cream are my weakness! I do splurge sometimes! Before I compete, I just try to eat clean and light, making sure that I am getting enough protein and carbs. Though, I generally don’t have much of an appetite before my competition, so I drink a Red Bull.
What’s the most misunderstood thing about SUP in general? What’s the one thing you wish people knew about it?
The most misunderstood thing about SUP is that all stand-up paddlers are kooks. The stereotype is that they are generally 40-year-old men that ride 12-foot boards, catch all the waves, cut everyone off and run people over in the lineup. I’m not going to lie; oftentimes, this is sad but true. I wish people knew that times are changing! The sport is evolving. This being said, many of the stand-up paddlers are coming from a short boarding background and have respect in the lineup. They are getting younger, the boards are getting smaller, and their surfing will blow your mind. Not to mention, the fact that it’s about being an all-around waterman. It’s about finding other ways to be in the ocean training and enjoying it, no matter what you ride.
What motivates you to get better and better each day?
What motivates me to become a better athlete is that the sport is still new and growing rapidly. I need to keep pushing myself to raise the bar and inspire others to join me. I’m excited to grow with a sport that I will be able to do for the rest of my life and share with others.
Racing? Fishing? We certainly need to up our SUP game — and keep an eye on Izzi! How about you? —Jenn