When Tessa Blosser began standup paddleboarding about two years ago, no one showed her how to do it properly.
After teaching herself how to do it – and falling in love with the water sport – she realized there weren’t many groups or classes near her home in South Tampa.
“Why, when we have all this water around us?” Blosser said.
Last July, Blosser took it upon herself to fill those gaps. She became a certified instructor and formed WhatSUP South Tampa, a company that offers paddleboarding lessons, fitness classes and eco-tours off Davis Islands, Ballast Point, Cypress Point and other local parks.
“It’s done a lot more than I could even imagine this fast,” she said.
A fifth-grade teacher by day, Blosser’s weekends are packed with all-day classes or leisure paddles. Eventually she plans to quit her job as a teacher and focus solely on her paddleboarding business. She gets out on the water with a group or by herself almost every day.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Paddleboarding has its roots in Hawaii and Tahiti, Blosser said. The boarder either stands or kneels on the board and uses a paddle to propel forward. Some people race them, while others paddleboard just to relax and get out on the water.
“I wanted to bring that feel to Tampa,” Blosser said.
This summer she will offer day-camp classes for kids. Children between the ages of 9 and 14 are welcome in the week-long camps. The only requirement is that they know how to swim, Blosser said.
“It’s not hard,” she said. “Paddleboarding is not super difficult.”
Blosser is completely comfortable on a board. She tows around a trailer full of the 10- and 12-foot-long boards, and hauls them out to water for her classes. She knows just which ones beginners and more advanced boarders should use.
She is certified to teach fitness and yoga classes on the boards in addition to teaching people the boarding basics.
“I wanted to get certified – that’s the teacher in me – and teach people how to do this right,” she said.
The paddleboarding community in St. Petersburg and Clearwater is oversaturated, she said, which is why she wanted to start her business in South Tampa. She only knows of one other business like hers in the area.
As the popularity of the sport grows and more people learn about it, she said, she knows she made the right choice.
“Standup paddleboarding is growing so fast,” Blosser said. “And people in Tampa are young and want to have fun.”
To find out more, go to www.whatsupsouthtampa.com.