Hartland native Linda Brown may not be perfect, but she does walk on water for a living.
Brown is a Hovie Stand Up Paddleboard, or SUP, sales representative and distributor. She started in April and hit the ground running in May.
"I haven't really had to sell them, they sell themselves," Brown said about the SUPs. "If you like to get out in nature, if you like to be active or if you like water, they are perfect. I haven't had to talk anyone into trying it. Just Wednesday, I picked up 10 new clients where I'm going out and teaching them."
Most of Brown's clients have found her on Facebook or by word-of-mouth.
"I haven't had time to do anything else," Brown said. "Social networking is amazing."
Brown has been involved in the water sports industry for the past 20 years. She even worked for Surftech, the world's largest surf board manufacturer, when she lived in Santa Cruz, CA.
After receiving her teaching certificate for high school science, Brown moved back to Michigan to teach, and then like so many others, she found herself unemployed.
"Having numerous 'I'm sorry, this position was filled by someone else' type letters, I kept in contact with my Santa Cruz friends," Brown said about how she started with SUPs. "I said that I should be representing these back here because they are perfect for the 11,000 inland lakes we have in Michigan."
Brown said she chose to represent Hovie SUPs because the products are specifically for flat water and the price point was suited to the area.
Brown sells SUPs ranging from $695 to $1,450, the latter being the Nomad and the best-selling paddleboard.
"The Nomad is 12 feet long and is very stable. It's called a touring and exploration SUP," Brown said. "It has the bungee cords up front so you can throw your backpack, water, camera, whatever you want to take with you on there. And you get the same sort of workout, but you have the benefit if you want to go for a four-hour paddle around the lake or down the river, you can do that."
SUPs range from 10 to 12 feet long and weigh 27 pounds on average. The rider stands on the board and uses a paddle to move and steer.
"I can handle them myself," Brown said about the size and shape of a SUP. "That was one of the things with the kayak—I couldn't handle it myself. I've had two people switch from kayaks to stand-up paddleboards now, just because they're easier to handle and they just seem to fall in love with them."
Brown offers her clients an introductory 90-minute lesson that teaches about the equipment, safety, paddling and getting on the board. She also talks about watching weather.
One of her more recent students was retired Detroit Red Wings right wing Joey Kocur.
In addition, Brown also teaches a fitness and yoga class. No experience is necessary, other than completing the introductory and safety class. Brown offers discounts to clients if they bring a buddy.
Brown said she is also planning a SUP Adventure Tour somewhere up north late this summer.
Howell Parks and Recreation Authority purchased several SUPs from Brown, and she will begin teaching pilot classes there.
"I'll be teaching on Thompson Lake, and in the winter months I'll be teaching at the pool, which is exciting because people can use them all year-round," Brown said. "They are the pioneers because nobody else is doing this in this area. I'm really excited to have them on board."
White Lake resident Augie Potzmann is one of Brown's three clients who hire her to take them out on her SUPs on a weekly basis. Poztmann learned to surf in Hawaii five years ago and then learned to SUP from Brown.
Potzmann, 34, competes in an average of three or four triathlons a year. One summer he competed in 32 triathlons just to see if he could do it.
"Paddleboarding is an incredible core workout," Potzmann said. "As a triathlete, you spend so much time doing endurance work—long runs, long bike rides and long swims—that you don't always get a chance to focus on core stability. And it really helps your running and cycling to have a very strong core."
Potzmann said he doesn't get to SUP as much as he'd like, but when he does, he heads out to Highland State Recreation Area because it is so close.
"It's a beautiful area and it's really clean and nice," he said.
One of the great things about using a SUP is just about anybody can do it, said Potzmann, adding he would definitely recommend it to everybody.
"It is a great way to strengthen your upper body, shoulders and build arm strength," Potzmann said about paddling. "Your shoulders are one of the important joints in your body, and we don't strengthen them nearly enough. Having them stronger prevents injury. It's low impact and a great way to get out to experience the outdoors. And it's fun. I mean, how often can you walk on water?"
A SUP also works legs and cardio, not just core and upper body, added Brown.
A SUP could also serve avid fishermen well.
"It's an incredible platform for fishing, I know that sounds really weird," Potzmann said. "I fly fish and you can sneak up on the fish, unlike any other effort I have ever been on. You can even get closer than you can in a kayak. I don't know why that is—maybe because you can see the fish better from a higher vantage point. And with fly fishing, it really helps with your balance."