Have you ever stand up paddled? Don’t know what that means? Keep reading to find out more. We interviewed GRACEDBYGRIT influencer and paddle queen Gina Bradley. She teaches women all over the world how to stand up paddle and has built a stand up paddle empire. She is also in her 50s and looks like she’s 30… This post may be worth reading if you’re looking to snag her secrets for looking, and feeling, so young.
Hey girl, tell us a little more about yourself! I am an optimistic, self motivated entrepreneur who founded Paddle Diva, a Stand Up Paddle Business in 2009, before most had ever heard about this sport. My life is marked with making great things happen, not waiting for them to show up. I have two active, independent kids, an equestrian daughter, Emma (13 years old), and a golfing enthusiast, James (10 years), and a husband who I have joined forces with at Saunders Real Estate in The Hamptons, just to keep me busy year round! We are a family of land and water and you can find us so happy in one of our two homes: East Hampton, NY or Rincon, PR, surfing, golfing, paddling, horseback riding and always enjoying life.
What inspired you to start your company, Paddle Diva? My passion for Paddle Diva and leading, teaching and encouraging women how to stand up paddle, was an amalgamation of the many facets in my life. I had spent many years working with women teaching them how to scuba (I am a PADI Instructor), taught aerobics for decades, spent summers teaching windsurfing and mountain biking and knew the moment I stepped on a paddle board that if marketed properly, this was a sport that would take off! From the moment I took my first clients out on the water, I knew right away I had found my niche here in The Hamptons. Having my own business for almost a decade has allowed me to keep my brain active while making a valuable contribution to women and discovering the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
Tell us more about the “Paddle Diva Method.” What does that mean? The Paddle Diva Method is our proprietary methodology of teaching stand up paddling that creates a fun, results oriented approach, that gently pushes clients outside of their comfort zone, and facilitates success. While many women have only dreamed of the freedom that a watersport can deliver, Paddle Diva has encouraged thousands of women to get on a board and own this experience. Paddle Diva encourages women to translate this into their lives, and teaches them that anything is possible when we’re in control of our desires and achieving them.
What has been the most rewarding thing to come from teaching women all around the world how to SUP? I am incredibly passionate about Paddle Diva and the movement I have created in the stand up paddle industry, especially in The Hamptons. I am nourished and energized by leading women and watching them experience their ‘ah ha’ moment as they glide effortlessly along the water and start to see a whole new perspective of what they can do, how they can do it and plans to do more! Paddle Diva also provides an incredible experience for families and I feel so great when I witness the bonding time that takes place between parents and children as they paddle along!
Is there any crazy story you can recall from a lesson? There are many fun stories about teaching in The Hamptons! I mean it’s the HAMPTONS, right? But my favorite one is all about an ‘outfit’, and since we are on the GRACEDBYGRIT blog it’s an appropriate topic so here it goes… I was leading a large group of ladies that came weekly to Paddle Diva and we’d meet at a little entrance and paddle in the famous Saponac Pond. One morning after I launched the group, a woman came running up to the launch looking frazzled in a tennis outfit. Without pause or question I handed her a paddle and quickly launched her out with the rest of the group and paddled right behind her to start teaching her, since she was the one ‘newbie’. She was so in shock that she didn’t have time to tell me she thought they were all meeting to play… PADDLE TENNIS! When she saw the group email to ‘meet for a paddle’ she assumed it was on the courts, not on the bay! She was a great sport and completely dressed for tennis but she paddled with great intention and had great form. When we finished she hugged me so hard and said she had the BEST and most unexpected morning so far that summer!
What are your favorite ways to stay fit? You can’t just paddle all day, every day! I am a proponent of staying outdoors for all forms of fitness. You are right I do not paddle every day! In fact, I believe we all need to ‘mix it up’ and get outdoors more! The connection to nature, breathing fresh air and letting the natural elements be part of your workout is so key for weight loss, appetite control and feeling fit. It’s my belief that if you balance your food intake with your exercise output, you will be your best self!
What does a typical day look like for you? Every morning I wake up and relish in the fact that it’s a brand new day. No matter what lies ahead or what happened the day prior, I welcome each new day with an open mind and heart. I spend my days working and playing. It’s my rule to do at least three ‘fun’ things a day. That could be anything from a bike ride with my son, to a long run in the woods with my dog, to my favorite surfer’s yoga class, to a surf, to just laughing with a friend. I make sure I do something active every day but I never get down on myself if I miss a day or two of high intensity workouts. I have to balance being a mom, wife, dog owner and entrepreneur every day, so that no two days every look or feel the same. I don’t have a typical day!
What can you not live without? I cannot live without water. I love drinking water and keeping myself hydrated. I find that most people don’t drink enough water but it’s the key to life. Or, at least my life. The other thing I love is eating a whole foods, plant based diet as much as I possibly can! I really find that I can’t live without being surrounded by healthy choices in activities and food!
How do you stay balanced? Where do you go to seek rest and rejuvenation? I stay balanced on the WATER! It’s a place I go to to get inspired, and even rest. I find the water to be such a calming force in my life. I love to take a board and paddle for hours on my own. When I return I always have such a feeling of rejuvenation! I have always said, “the water informs me…” But, when I need real, non-moving rest and rejuvenation I like one simple thing: SLEEP. I love to crawl into my bed early and get good sleep. Nothing beats sleep!
How have you been graced by grit? Oh, this is easy. I have almost died twice! It has been my grit, my ability to HANG on and not give up, that has kept me going. I had a very rare condition during the birth of my son, and hemorrhage and almost bled to death before surgeons were able to help. My second brush with death was three years ago. I fell off my paddle board while SUPing in Rincon, PR, and stepped square on a venomous rockfish. It’s one of the world’s 10 most deadly creatures and I am lucky to say that after over a year of recovery I survived! Those two incidents make me a gritty girl!
How can GRACEDBYGRIT followers paddle with you?
Paddle Diva: Transforming The Stand Up Paddling Experience
Paddle Diva East Hampton in Three Mile Harbor
Paddle Diva Watersports at Gurney’s Montauk www.paddlediva.com
@RD2H in Rincon, Puerto Rico www.rincon.paddlediva.com
Cell phone: 516-383-2296
Shop for reservations: 631-329-2999
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