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Water playground
Whether youíre looking for serenity now or soaring high, these two summer sports are the yin and yang on area lakes

Photos by Matt Haas and Tyler Bradfield

June 2015

Gently Down the Stream

Yoga has moved from terra firma to water, and the result is a new dimension in tapping into oneís core.

Improving flexibility, strength and balance while serenely floating in an outdoor environment is a challenge worth taking, says longtime yoga instructor Trish Washburn of Soleil Lune Yoga in Oconomowoc. A 14-year instructor, Washburn is moving into her third year teaching paddle board yoga on Silver Lake.

"Because you are on a board, you are farther away from each other in your own space," she says. Washburn notes that some yoga postures may be more easily achieved on water, even with the specter of losing balance and getting wet. "Itís very relaxing, nurturing and fun," Washburn says. "There is something to be said about connecting with nature in a new way."

While sessions avoid extreme weather, a gentle rain, moderate wind and temperature changes add renewed texture to each experience.

Paddle board yoga, with origins traced to surfers, now attracts a wide spectrum of individuals and families. "Those who never have done yoga are attracted to this, and a lot of people who have practiced traditional yoga see this as an extension of that experience," she says.

Joyce Brahm of Dousman fits into the latter category. "I started yoga two years ago, and I really enjoyed it," Brahm says. "Last summer, I took a couple of paddle board classes thinking it would be a different type of challenge. I wound up buying a paddleboard."

Brahm shares she was pleased to learn she would not be constantly wet while mastering the water-bound board. "Itís actually easier than I thought it would be," she says. "I had never been on a paddle board before, let alone doing yoga on one. The best thing is that no one is judgmental."

The outdoor experience, she says, makes a difference. "For those connected to the outdoors, itís a beautiful spiritual connection. A whole new medium."

Washburn says introductory classes and paddle boards are available for those who donít own the equipment. "We want to introduce this new form of yoga in a way that will make anyone comfortable," she says. More information about paddle board yoga can be found at

Surfing the Sky

For those who prefer their water sports on the extreme side, there is flyboarding, where one can have the best of two worlds ó balancing a story or more above the waterís surface or dive and rise, skipping the surface like a dolphin.

Flyboarding is becoming popular on local lakes, thanks to adventurers like Tyler Bradfield. The owner of Elevate Flyboarding grew up in Horicon honing his love of extreme sports. He winters in Hawaii and returns to the Milwaukee area in summer to teach flyboarding on a broad array of lakes, including Pewaukee, Okauchee, Nagawicka, Oconomowoc, Lac La Belle and Michigan.

In essence, a flyboarder rides on a skateboard-style platform attached to a hose that feeds high-pressured water from a ski jet. The result is that one can use the pressure to balance high above the lake and, if desired, dive into the water, maneuvering under and flipping out. The sport can be done alone or as a high-wire group act.

Though it looks daunting, Bradfield said flyboarding is not difficult to learn and not as extreme as it appears. "A lot of people say Ďthatís crazy, I donít know if I can do it,í but itís exhilarating and exciting and I can teach you to do it in less than an hour," Bradfield says. "Itís really easy to learn."

Despite the high-flying adventure of it all, Bradfield says he requires all newbies ó kids who are at least 100 pounds to older adults of up to 70 years old ó to wear helmets and life vests.

The current flyboarding equipment has evolved from a back-strapped jet pack and probably will evolve even further, he says. "Using ski jets is the latest form. I think the shelf life will be about five years and then something else will come along."

What wonít change is that there will always be people seeking new adventure. It also means that they will have a choice of people like Bradfield willing to teach. Those who want to check out the sport through Bradfield can do so by visiting

This story ran in the June 2015  issue of: