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Brian Wierima, Forum Communications Co., Published May 03 2012

New wave of exercise, fun

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – When Detroit Lakes graduate Ben Magnuson took classes at the University of Hawaii through the national student exchange program, he picked up more than a good tan and college credits.

He also picked up a love for the new craze of paddle boarding, and now he’s bringing it to the Detroit Lakes area.

Magnuson will become a pioneer of sorts by introducing the recreational sport to the Detroit Lakes area by opening his SOL Surf Co. shop this spring and summer, with the doors tentatively planned to open Thursday.

SOL, which stands for Stand On Lakes, will be located on West Lake Drive across from the DL Pavilion and next to the Lakeshirts Shop. The new business will offer paddle board rentals, concessions, guided tours, exercise and yoga opportunities, and a venue for Detroit Lakes’ youths to just “hang out.”

Magnuson is more than pumped for and is ready to introduce a water sport that hasn’t yet hit the lakes area full throttle.

“Paddle boarding is so big in Hawaii, and it’s taking over the Twin Cities area, but nobody has made an impact here in this area,” he said. “It’s something I am very passionate about and once you try it, you will be glued to it.”

Paddle boarding is unlike any other water sport in that individuals do not need to be experienced or be a certain age to enjoy it. They can range from 5 to 80 years old.

A regular paddle board is up to 3 feet wide and 9 feet long, allowing stability that makes it easy to maneuver on the water.

“I taught paddle boarding in Hawaii and it’s just a fun activity and a great way to gain some exercise,” Magnuson said. “I always tell people, ‘If you can stand on the sidewalk and hold a broom at the same time, you can paddle board.’ ”

Magnuson plans a demonstration day soon in order to introduce the new sport to the area. People can try out the paddle boards for free.

“Since it’s so new, people are hesitant to try it out,” Magnuson said. “But I will teach the basic techniques of it.”

Magnuson said paddle boards can also be used to fish. The Hawaii paddle board company he’s working with is creating a fishing paddle board, which will hold fishing rods and bait.

Because paddle boarding is considered a water sport, Magnuson plans some races for all ages and skill levels this summer.

His SOL Shop will “encourage loitering” and hopefully become a destination for the area youths. There will be a sand volleyball court set up, hammocks and concessions.

“I just want it to be a hangout for kids looking for good, clean fun,” Magnuson said.

Brian Wierima writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune

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