Chris Patterson's first time on a standup paddleboard went the opposite of how most of his clients' first experiences go. "People don't think they can do it because it looks like a surf board, but once they do it, they're hooked," he said. But for Patterson, who had surfed Hawaii's waves for seven years, his first confident step onto a standup paddleboard resulted in immediately falling off. Hauling his humbled self back onto the board, he learned the proper stance, set to paddling, and began seeing the water in a whole new way. The upright stance, unlike surfing's crouched position, opened his vision to the all the water around him, including several feet away where dolphins crested beside his board.
The versatility of the sport inspired Patterson to launch Surfs SUP when he moved back to Florida, where the coast and inland waters afford abundant recreation. During semi-private and private small group lessons, Patterson’s students may encounter water-dwelling creatures such as manatees and dolphins. He's even had clients take out rentals for a day of fishing and bring back catches such as a 45-pound amberjack and a very large bundle of seaweed. Claiming training certification from the American Council on exercise, Patterson also leads on-the-water fitness classes that include SUP Yoga and Paddle Fit, which he learned directly from the program's founder, Brody Welte. Additionally, Patterson organizes a competitive SUP racing team and leads youth camps, where he applies training techniques he learned from teaching kids with cerebral palsy and blindness how to surf.