A Chauvin woman is bringing surf culture to the bayous of south Louisiana with her paddleboarding business she began last summer.
Through her business Calypso’s Bayou Paddleboard Co., Fallon Ellender-Chauvin leads paddleboard excursions in Cocodrie and Grand Isle, and yoga classes at the at the Nicholls State University and Chauvin swimming pools.
“Don’t be afraid to fall in because it’s a beautiful pool and there’s no alligators here,” Ellender-Chauvin advised her SUP, or standing-up paddleboard, yoga class last Tuesday.
SUP yoga is similar to yoga in a studio, except instead of a yoga mat, the class balances on paddleboards, and instead of falling onto the floor, you fall with a great splash into the pool. Ellender-Chauvin said one of the only rules of her class is when someone falls in the water, everyone has to clap and holler for them to encourage them to get back on the board.
Because of the nature of the exercise, the yoga classes are small and intimate. There is a maximum of 12 people at the Nicholls pool and eight at the Chauvin pool to prevent from people falling off their boards and into each other. That’s almost guaranteed to happen as the young Pointe-aux-Chenes native leads the class through partner exercises, acro-yoga and other balancing acts. She also encourages her students to try inversions, which are handstands and headstands in yoga. The only prerequisite for her classes or excursions is to be able to swim.
“I see a lot of people getting out of their comfort zones and trying something new,” Ellender-Chauvin said. “You get wet and laugh a lot. That’s mostly what we do here.”
Tyra Casbon said after her first SUP yoga class that she would definitely recommend the classes to friends, and the most difficult challenge she faced in the class was keeping her balance on the board.
“It was super fun,” said Casbon, of Larose. “I really enjoyed it. It was very challenging.”
Ellender-Chauvin said she’s always loved the surf and paddleboard culture, and lived in Florida for a few years, where paddleboarding is really popular.
She said she started the business to bring new things to the area and try to encourage the younger generation to stay in south Louisiana.
“It’s really taken off, because nobody has that down here, and I want to keep as much young people as we can,” Ellender-Chauvin said. “A lot of people want to move away, and I’m trying to keep them here and bring new things, stuff to do outdoors.”
Ellender-Chauvin opened her business May 2016, and started offering classes and excursions in July. Last year, the classes halted when the weather got cooler, but this year, Ellender-Chauvin said she’s thinking of buying wetsuits so they can keep paddling longer. The weather is her toughest challenge, as well as getting people to try new things, especially the older crowd.
She said the paddleboard excursions in Grand Isle and Cocodrie are like hiking across the water. And they are an opportunity for people to see Louisiana’s coast while getting a full-body workout.
“The excursions gives the awareness to people of our coastal erosion and just gets them really out there, because they’re so amazed at everything that they don’t realize they’re getting a full-body workout at the same time,” Ellender-Chauvin said. “We’re not blessed with the blue waters of the Caribbean and sunshine, but we do have a lot of things good in Louisiana and that’s part of getting people outside.”
Ellender-Chauvin said she’s got big plans for her company. She’s working to open a paddleboard shop in the Cut Off-Galliano area next summer, and is considering paddleboard excursions in Morgan City. She’s also planning fishing excursions.
For information, call 870-0217, email email@example.com or check out Calypso’s Facebook page.
-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie