Join me on Isle Royale – July 30 -August 4, 2019

The view from the top of Rock Harbor lighthouse

I love the magic of Isle Royale.

The majestic and wild beauty. The history of the place, it’s people and their stories, and wildlife. The incredible sunrises and unforgettable sunsets. The thimbleberry and blueberry picking (and the resulting blueberry pancakes). In 2019 I have the opportunity to share this special island with others.

I am stoked to be guiding a trip for Uncommon Adventures in 2019. Our group will explore the island that is the nation’s second least visited National Park, but which also holds the distinction of being the park with the highest return visit rate. There’s a very good reason for that high return rate. Once you’ve been there, you’ll be counting the days before you’re back!

Learn more about the Isle Royale Explorer trip and please consider joining me in 2019!

Blueberries picked from the Greenstone Ridge

Werner Paddles Ambassador

I am proud to announce that I have been named a Werner Paddles Ambassador.

I am honored to be affiliated with a company like Werner, one who is committed to delivering a great product with fantastic support. I have been a proud Werner user for several years and always enjoy the opportunity to share the story with other paddlers.

If you want to experience a Werner product first hand, connect with me at an event or class.

Take a minute to find your paddle at




How to perfectly pack your kayak for a multi-day trip

I did a presentation at Canoecopia on March 11 where I showed how to pack a kayak for a multi-day trip.

Camping from a kayak is a great joy and one that I hope all paddlers will have an have opportunity to experience at some point in their lives. For this presentation, I had a great crowd of more than 100 guests looking for the inside secrets. We spent 45 minutes focused on what to bring, how to prepare your gear, the best ways to transport to the put-in and when arriving at your destination, and of course, how to get everything inside the boat.

We had a unique opportunity to truly show how things fit together by using a clear kayak, in addition to packing a P&H Cetus LV during the demo. A big shout out to P&H Custom Sea Kayaks and Werner Paddles for the loan of the Cetus and Shuna paddle.

I put together a handout for the participants and thought you might like a copy as well. Click the image to the right to get your copy.



Meet me at Canoecopia – March 9-11, 2018

I am pleased to be speaking on two different topics at this year’s Canoecopia event (March 9-11, 2018).

Power to the Paddle: Exercises to Improve your Canoe and Kayak Paddling

Join my fun hands-on session where you’ll learn and practice functional exercises to help you paddle longer, faster, and stronger. Learn simple exercises requiring little or no equipment and targeting crucial muscles to be a better paddler, build endurance,and prevent injury. You’ll improve your outdoor experience and become the best paddler you can be!

Immediately following the presentation, I will be signing books and DVDs in the Authors Corner in the Main Lobby under the stairway.

Perfectly Pack your Kayak for a Multi-Day Trip

Loading your personal and shared group gear in your boat is part art and part science. This hands-on workshop will equip you with tips and tricks to pack your kit for a dry, safe and enjoyable multi-day journey without having to cut the handle off your toothbrush.

In addition to my presentations, you’ll find more than 180 presentations and pool demos and a 250,000 square foot show floor packed full of all the boats, boards, and paddling gear you could ever want.  Learn more about the show at


Use indoor rowing to stay strong for outdoor paddling

The water here in the US Midwest is crunchy this time of year, making paddling a bit challenging. Sure, it’s ridiculously cold, but unfortunately here in the Chicago area we don’t have enough snow to break out the snowshoes or cross country skis and too much for anything other than a fat bike. For now, that leaves indoor workouts.

Fortunately one of the best pieces of equipment in your local fitness center is probably also one of the most lightly used in the room. The Concept 2 rower, or my new favorite flavor, the Water Rower, engages more than 80% of the body’s muscles, working them in a similar fashion to paddling.

A few keys to success:

  • Roughly half the work should come from the upper body and half from the lower body. Focus on using both rather than relying on the upper body.
  • Set the foot straps up so they come across your foot right at the base of your toes.
  • If you’re using the Concept 2, avoid the temptation to set the damper too high. Most people set it at the highest setting (10) because they’re not rowing properly and lower setting don’t feel challenging enough. A setting between 3-5 simulates the resistance of water and puts much less stress on the upper body while creating a smoother stroke.
  • Think Legs, Core, Arms…Arms, Core, Legs. When you start your drive, move the legs first. As the legs begin to straighten, engage the lats and lean the core back slightly, followed by pulling with the arms. Keep the wrists straight through the pull and have your hands meet the body right at the base of your rib cage. Begin your recovery in reverse: Straighten the arms out first. As they begin to reach your knees lean forward while keeping the core tight, and lastly bend the knees to finish.

Concept 2 has produced a few excellent videos and descriptions on proper form. Check them out and get the most from your indoor row.


Power to the Paddle Companion DVD is here!

Thank you to those who have read and benefited from my book, Power to the Paddle: Exercises to Improve your Canoe and Kayak paddling”.  I have loved hearing the feedback and your stories of how it’s helped create better paddlers.

I am very excited to announce that the long-awaited companion DVD, bringing life to the exercises in the book, is now available. Each year at Canoecopia and other venues where the book has been sold, you’ve been asking me to create a DVD. It’s been quite a project and this year, everything came together to make it happen.

The DVD includes videos of more than 50 exercise demonstrations from the book to help you perform each with proper form.

Get your copy now!



It’s you or your gear

Paddlers are gearheads. No question about it. We all love adding a new piece of equipment to our arsenal or a new boat to the fleet. Each fancy geegaw brings the promise of new adventures and sometimes new capabilities.

Some things are truly technological advances that will help us get to places we might not otherwise be able to go. Think you’re going to throw that aluminum Grumman on your head and trot on down the trail? Probably not. But that high tech model you’ve had your eye on… the one that could survive a fall off an apartment building without a crack and still be light enough to easily portage? Now that’s what we’re talking about.

The titanium handleless spork that shaved three ounces off your kit while lightening your wallet by $30 might be a different story. I have a friend who constantly picks up the latest whiz bang product to promise him a lighter load.

He’s got great gear. It’s really light. He’s not.

We spend a lot of time making lighter and stronger versions of our kit, but we frequently neglect creating lighter stronger versions of ourselves.  Could your next $300 be better spent on improving you vs. your gear?


Don’t miss Canoecopia March 11-13

Power to the Paddle at CanoecopiaI’ll be speaking at this year’s Canoecopia event.

Join my fun hands-on session where you’ll learn and practice functional exercises to help you paddle longer, faster, and stronger. Learn simple exercises requiring little or no equipment and targeting crucial muscles to be a better paddler, build endurance,and prevent injury. You’ll improve your outdoor experience and become the best paddler you can be!

If you’re planning to come to the show, I’ll be speaking Friday, March 11 at 6:30 pm in the Atrium.

In addition to my presentation, you’ll find more than 175 presentations and pool demos and a show floor packed full of all the boats, boards, and paddling gear you could ever want.  Learn more about the show at

I hope to see you there this weekend.



Balance for paddlers

Paddling is always unstable (some say the same about many paddlers). Just getting in the boat can be a balancing act of it’s own. Once you’re in the boat you’re always mindful of your positioning to keep the hairy side up.

I am not a big proponent of combining a lot of weight with balance exercises. Search the Internet and you’re sure to find someone juggling dumbbells while standing on a stability ball. That’s just an ER visit waiting to happen. Today’s post is about simple ways to train our bodies to adapt to everyday balance challenges.

Our bodies more in three planes of motion:

  • The sagittal plane is characterised by forward and back movement.
  • The frontal plane includes movement to your right and left.
  • The transverse plane involves rotation around the spine.

If we fail to include movement in all three planes in our training program, we leave ourselves open to the possibility of injury and imbalance.

We can quickly and easily progress, or regress, our training to account for balance.

The simplest position requiring the least compensation for balance is seated on a bench or chair. In this position, we can focus solely on the task at hand and not worry about falling.

Next is standing on two feet with the feet approximately hip width apart. This is our most stable standing position.

From here we progress to standing with our feet next to each other, parallel to one another but close to each other, staggered and far apart, and finally to single legged.

Fabio Comana does an excellent job describing these balance positions and showing progression through positions and planes of movement in this video.



What is torso rotation?

Torso rotation is critical to paddling success.  As instructors, we talk about it all the time. But what does it really mean, what causes it to happen, and most importantly how do you train for it?

Let’s start by defining where torso rotation comes from.  When most people hear “the core” in relation to their bodies, they instantly think of the abs.  While your abs are one part of your core, they’re just one part.  The core of your body is composed of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and all of the muscles that attach to it.  That means you’re dealing with muscles including the abs (rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and obliques), spinal erectors, chest, latissimus dorsi, hip flexors, glutes, and more.  You’re using all of the muscles of the midsection of your body with exception of the extremities.  These muscles are responsible for support all basic movement of your body.  They keep you sitting upright in your seat. They keep you from collapsing as your walk.  They’re responsible for bending, flexing, extending, and yes, rotating.

Now, let’s talk about what torso rotation looks like in a paddling situation.  Picture yourself in your boat, eyes fixed forward and shoulders solidly positioned remaining perpendicular to your boat.  You’re paddling hard, but all the power is coming from your arms.  Now, picture yourself in the boat and placing the right side blade in the water at the 2 o’clock position.  Rather than leaning forward to dip the blade to the water, you turn your body, from the waist up to increase your range of motion.  The blade sinks into the water, but instead of just pulling with your arms you keep a slight bend at the elbow and rotate your right shoulder toward the stern while the left shoulder moves toward the bow.

That’s torso rotation in action. You’re using the power of the large muscles of your midsection to create your paddle stroke rather than the small muscles of your arms.  Training for more efficient torso rotation involves a combination of activities to improve flexibility and exercises that load the body when performing that type of movement.

Here’s a quick and easy test.  Grab a broomstick for this test.

1. Start by sitting cross legged on the floor inside an open door frame and facing the frame

2. Place the broomstick across your shoulders with your arms draped over the stick

3. Without moving your legs, rotate your shoulders as far as you can with your goal being to get the stick to hit the door frame

If you can get to the door frame, you have pretty decent trunk flexibility and mobility. If not, you’ll want to work on improving your these areas to help you use your core effectively.  A strong core without good flexibility and mobility will always limit your movement.