Chinese philosopher Confucius has said that a “man of wisdom delights in water.” Dave Haessig, the president of the St. Louis Canoe and Kayak Club, agrees.
“I find when I’m out here on a nice lake like this, I always say my problems stay on shore,” he said.
What you might call kayaking, Haessig calls “paddle therapy.”
“I have rheumatoid arthritis and by doing this exercise I’ve actually freed up a lot of my back and it helped with building up my core muscles, relieving a lot of back pain,” said Haessig, who also serves as state director for the American Canoe Association.
His problems eased when he picked up a paddle and learned to kayak. On Saturday, Haessig and fellow instructor Yolandea Wood will be encouraging anyone to dip their toes into Creve Coeur Lake for the inaugural Life Outside Festival organized by Great Rivers Greenway.
“The mission and purpose of Life Outside is like the Greenways, you don`t have to be a super athlete to explore and enjoy the outdoors here in St. Louis,” said Elizabeth Simmons, community program manager for Great Rivers Greenway.
Creve Coeur Lake will be the place to try your hand at more than 40 free events like paddle boarding, tree climbing, and yoga, without the hefty price tag or time constraints. And if you plan on paddling, you better learn the proper technique.
“Especially if you use your whole body rotating at the torso and the three reasons to do that is that it’s going to triple your endurance,” Haessig said. “Secondly, it will give you a whole body workout and the third most important thing is if you’re leaning back like that, 10 pounds of pressure will dislocate your shoulder. But if you rotate it, your shoulders will be safe.”
And with the proper instructions, and the kayak skirt to keep you from getting wet, the Life Outside Festival might just reintroduce you to the great outdoors.
“From the water you get a unique perspective,” said Yolandea Wood, ACA Certified River Instructor. “I’ve seen flocks of eagles when I’m kayaking. I’ve seen sunrises and fog so thick you’re going through it and you can’t see anything and you’re like, ‘Why are you out here?’”