Yoga, boxing and martial arts are a few Tampa Bay options for couch potatoes or athletes-in-training who want to stay in shape.
Aimee and Michael Conlee hope to add one more fitness routine to the region's vocabulary: Stand up paddle boarding.
The couple own and operate Urban Kai, a stand up paddle boarding shop on the Hillsborough River that offers tours, merchandise - including waterproof headphones and floating sunglasses - and classes at $30 per hour for beginners.
“This sport is kind of therapeutic," said Michael Conlee. "It can be aggressive or as hard as you want to make it, or subtle and graceful as you want.”
We recently talked to the Conlee's at their shop, 2305 N. Willow Avenue, about how they got into the paddling business and what customers can expect from them.
Michael on why they opened the shop: I've always been into surfing. I grew up surfing in California. Moving here, I needed to find something to get on the water still, get my fulfillment of water sports. I was out running on Bayshore and I realized the monotony of people bike riding and running. I saw a biker almost hit this lady.
I said, 'Look at all the water out here. Why can't we do anything on the water?' I had a friend with a stand up paddleboard. I fell about 30 times. It’s a way to get out on the water, it's low impact, great cardio. You see things in nature you never thought you’d see. It's different than a powerboat. It's so quiet on the paddleboard.
Aimee on what services they offer: We do basic lessons, all the way up to paddle surf lessons and races. We do tours, like group tours or private tours of different areas, like Crystal River, Weedon Island, or over to the Banana River. We're taking a group of UT (University of Tampa) students out to Weedon Island. We do private schools, or corporate team building, too.
Michael on what makes them different from other paddle boarding shops: There's a couple other shops. One that we’re on the water, and we have water access in our backyard. The board lines we carry are some of the top in the industry.
Contact Urban Kai at 813-598-1634.