AFM’s September Field Trip Report

By Leah – September 24, 2012

We at AFM really look forward to our bi-monthly AFM Field Trips; every two weeks, the staff gets to try a new workout/training/exercise location. We love getting out in the community and sampling all the cool, different ways that people in Austin choose to get their fit on. And we’re happy to give our readers real feedback from real people. It was with pleasure that AFM went out on the lake for some stand-up paddling with Austin Paddle Sports (rentals are located at Capital Cruises, 208 Barton Springs Road, which is just behind the Hyatt’s swimming pool off of the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake). For our second “field trip,” we went no further than the foyer of our office for a blissfully relaxing yoga session with Jessica Lynn O’Brien, who provides private group lessons in the Austin area (Your Yoga Muse,

Here’s what AFM had to say about our September workout adventures:

Weston Carls
Austin Paddle Sports: SUP is an acquired love for me. Just watching people at the rental bay trying to SUP for the first time gave me doubts about whether I wanted to even try it. I thought I had the balance necessary to master it; well, I was halfway right. By the time we went on our AFM field trip (my third time out) I felt like a pro! One reason for my new comfort is that Austin Paddle Sports taught us how to be efficient on the paddleboard. They taught us how to get up and down easily, where and how to stand, how to paddle correctly so you don’t zigzag all over the place, and even how to incorporate core workouts. We did squats, push-ups, planks, v-ups, and a surfer paddle, all on the board. This class is in my top five favorite field trips because it incorporates a beautiful setting (downtown Austin), can be fun and challenging at the same time, and, if you need to cool off, you can jump right in!

Yoga with Jessica: Jessica’s been my yoga instructor before and I love her teaching for many reasons. First, her energy is always so good throughout the class. Second, she offers her clients an amazing Vinyasa workout. Lastly, at the end of her class while you’re laying down concentrating on your breathing, she lays a cool, slightly damp towel scented with lavender over your forehead that gives you a calming rush (for me at least!). I always leave Jessica’s class free of stress and in a totally different Zen mood. She’s always challenging her clients to reach new levels in their practice and I can’t wait to learn more from her. Man, my back feels so much better too! The office chair is not your friend!

Leah Nyfeler
Austin Paddle Sports: I was really looking forward to going stand-up paddling with the office, but it wasn’t until the day of that I realized our class wasn’t just covering the basics. We were going to be doing Austin Paddle Sports’ Core Fitness class with Cindy Present (one of the 2012 AFM Fittest competitors). I had been SUPing twice before; once, before I broke my ankle (it was easy!) and just recently (it was hard!) My balance had definitely changed, and I was having trouble maneuvering my board). So fear struck my heart when I grasped that I was going to be “doing stuff” while SUPing. Cindy, however, got caught in a flight delay and so Ben stepped in to lead our group and I relaxed a little. When Ben pulled up the first board and said, “Who wants this one? It’s an easy ride,” I practically pushed my way to the front and said, “I’ll go!” He wasn’t kidding; that board was like driving a 1950 Coupe de Ville around the lake: safe, sturdy, and not exactly a performance vehicle (he explained that the longer and heavier the board, the more stable—and the slower). We took some time to get acquainted with our boards and the longer we were out there, the more comfortable I felt. Ben explained various immensely helpful techniques for guiding our boards and we practiced those a bit, all the way down to Joe’s Crab Shack. Then, he gave us a workout to do as we moved back towards our starting point, startling a pair of canoers as we approached en masse. It was fun to try everything (well, I didn’t try the headstand, though several others did) and then we were back by the gazebo near Auditorium Shores. We put our boards in a circle and tried some more stuff before turning and racing each other back towards the dock. It’s an exhilarating feeling to dig your paddle in the water and zip along, and we practically had the entire lake to ourselves. By the time we posed for photos, I felt at ease being on my board among a group and hopping off onto the dock was no big deal. I promptly went home to talk my husband into a SUP date on the lake (I’m still working on him). The next day, I could feel that the balancing had been working my lower legs, especially that less-than-its-best ankle. SUP is truly a fun workout and fall in Austin is a great time to go.

Yoga with Jessica: Confession—yoga is not my workout of choice. That’s not to say I don’t like it, but I’m a self-professed cardio junkie. I have to say, though, that this yoga workout at the end of a busy, productive day in the office was wonderful. It’s nice that we have an office environment where it’s okay to get sweaty and laugh at our inflexibilities or inability to determine left from right. You could hear joints pop as we stretched out tension-filled areas. Jessica’s voice was soothing and she gave constant feedback in a gentle, yet direct, manner. She provided options for the less flexible among us (me) with positive reinforcement for the things we were able to do. There was a great flow from one movement to the next, and I left feeling both centered and refreshed (and eager to do more yoga after work).

Jessica Lynn O’Brien
Austin Paddle Sports: Austin Paddle Sports rocked my world! I was super excited to try something new!!! Ben, our instructor, made me feel relaxed as I slowly approached the SUP board for my first time. A sense of peace and calm washed over me when I noticed how beautiful it was outside—it was warm enough to actually enjoy being out on the water without wanting to jump in to cool off! Once I was on the board, my balancing instinct kicked in and I was able to focus and get myself acquainted with my equipment, which was my SUP board, the paddle, and my sunglasses. As soon as we started paddling, my heart started beating faster and my smile grew wider! I fell in love instantly, and the rest is history; I can’t wait to go again, and SUP rental is more accessible now that the busy tourist season is over. It was a great way for us here at AFM to get to know each other better while having some fit fun in the process.

Amity Ponsetti
Austin Paddle Sports: I had my first stand-up paddleboarding experience with Austin Paddle Sports and it was completely awesome! It wasn’t your average paddle down Lady Bird Lake; there were planks, squats, push-ups and more. No problem, right? I should mention that all of this was, of course, on the water – from the comfort of your own paddleboard. As a newbie, I got perfect instruction as well as a killer workout. If you’re looking for something unique to add to your workouts, give this a shot!

Matt Salmi
Austin Paddle Sports: On our most recent fitness field trip, about a dozen members of the crew dedicated a precious weekday happy hour to Austin Paddle Sports. Oars in hand, we took to the water, the city moving above us during that middle time of day when it hastily transitions from business to domestic and into evening. Down on the water, I felt as though we were keepers of some secret as the scurrying masses shuttled over the bridge, passing by the serenity we were enjoying. The view from underneath the city is quite majestic, and Austin Paddle Sports is worth experiencing if only for that and the pleasure of feeling the cool water wrap around your body as you lose balance and tumble into the lake, attempting a single leg squat at the instructor’s command. Paddleboarding was only mildly strenuous but quite fun, making for an enjoyable activity or suitable cross-training adventure when a break from the monotonous workout grind is needed.

Yoga with Jessica: My desk pushed against the wall, the back of my head pushed against my desk, I hung over in “forward full” in the crowded office lobby we had converted into a yoga studio. The Austin Fit crew, packed wall-to-wall, squatted, twisted, and stretched our bodies into a myriad of shapes uncommon, which revealed an interesting and valuable irony: while yoga makes me feel somewhat uncoordinated and stiff, the over 3,000-year-old discipline reminds me of the continuum of my physicality, the way my skin covers an intricate network of bones, muscles, and tendons that are stacked and wrapped around each other, an extraordinary complex. When I remember this, I regain the reverence for my body and myself that perpetual hustle obscures. I leave yoga feeling relaxed, peaceful, and wanting to respect my body as the sacred object yoga celebrates.

Sarah Schneider
Austin Paddle Sports: I had been looking forward to this AFM Field Trip since the moment it was announced: SUP! Sadly, I’d only been on a stand-up paddleboard once before, so I was extra excited to go. As we made our way to the conveniently located Austin Paddle Sports (right behind the Hyatt hotel on Barton Springs Road), the weather was perfect for an afternoon on Lady Bird. Once there, our instructors gave us a quick rundown on getting on and off our paddleboards as well as the most efficient stroke technique, and then we were off! Now it wouldn’t be an AFM Field Trip without a workout, so our instructors made sure to give us just that—all while testing our balance at the same time. Squats, push-ups, and planks are hard enough on solid ground…imagine doing them on a SUP! Luckily I managed to stay dry, though I can’t say the same for the entirety of the AFM team. I had a blast getting my paddleboard on and can’t wait to go again; see ya on the lake!

Yoga with Jessica: This past Wednesday, we here at Austin Fit had the joy of taking a yoga class taught by our very own Jessica. This Vinyasa flow class was a great way to wrap up a long workday. Jessica gave clear instructions and made sure everyone was getting the most out of this yoga experience. For those of you who enjoy practicing yoga from the comfort of your own home, you may want to look into Jessica’s private lessons! However, don’t forget to ask her to include the cool, calming lavender towel at the end of your workout – the perfect ending to a revitalizing yoga practice!

Are you interested in having Austin Fit Magazine take a field trip to your workout or practice? Send an email to with the name, time, and location of the class as well as your contact information in order to find out how you can include the AFM staff in your group fitness fun.


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