Founder Ian Jacobson grew up on the Lake, and started his board-top paddling program after his passion for the sport ignited during a trip to Hawaii a few years ago. His love for the low-impact activity also feeds his interest in its safety; as he spreads awareness of the sport, he makes sure customers know when it's safe to venture out into calm or choppy water. His passionate team gathers a range of paddling certifications, such as ACA and WPA, and many staffers are equipped with official training in first aid and CPR as well as unofficial training in blowing bubbles. Some of the team honed their boarding skills on the waves of California and Hawaii, and several boast a background in stand-up paddleboard yoga and fitness instruction.
Dubbed "the epicenter for the paddle community in Chicago" by Chicago Now, Jacobson's company ignites his passion for the sport of standup paddleboarding in others with rentals and instruction atop calm waters boasting sweeping skyline views. As shoulders, backs, and arms work to propel the boards forward under his instruction, the core engages to keep balance on the board, resulting in a full-body workout enlivened with the pleasure of sunny skies and the thrill of submarine sightings in Lake Michigan. Featured on NBC Chicago's 1st Look and in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago SUP—formerly Great Lakes Board Company—and Jacobson grabbed attention for pioneering the relaxing full-body workout in the Midwest, as well as for their innovative board-top yoga classes (SUPyo) and SUPFit classes which were featured in Chicago Magazine's Best of 2012 issue. On St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago SUP crew paddles their way down the dyed-green Chicago River while their street team gives away free goodies and offers a chance to win a discount on board rental; see their Facebook page for more details on this contest. In the 2013 Expedition Paddle Series, he and his team point paddlers toward attainable goals as they paddle decked in headlamps toward Navy Pier for fireworks, or simply take in the skyline at sunset—often paired with paddling instruction.