Lake Michigan welcomes stand-up paddleboarding

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Chris Paustian of Northwest Passage demonstrates paddling technique to Elena Arrigo before heading out at Gilson Beach on Wednesday, July 25 2012, in Wilmette. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

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Kristin Andrews, a yoga instructor who teaches Sup Salutation, strikes a pose at Gillson Beach in Wilmette.

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There’s a lot of reasons for going to Hawaii, but if yours was stand-up paddleboarding, cancel that flight.

Called SUP by enthusiasts, the sport has its origins in Hawaii but is enjoying a growing popularity across the United States.

It’s a sport embraced by celebrities — Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner and Owen Wilson have all been photographed doing in and seemed to be having a blast.

With that sort of exposure, it’s no wonder SUP has caught on.

A Midwest circuit of paddleboard racing has emerged, and on Saturday the Chicago Shoreline Marathon ( takes place and feature SUP.

Now, classes are being taught along Lake Michigan.

A combination of surfing and kayaking, SUP calls for upper-body strength and balance skills.

Your goal is to first, remain upright, then use the one-sided paddle to navigate across the water.

Calm waters are a plus, allowing time to take in the scenic view of the shoreline as you paddle slowly.

Big waves? That’s likely to be a (pardon the pun) downer when SUPing. But taking a spill really is no big deal, although it involves some maneuvering to get back on board.

You have to pull yourself onto the board while maintaining your balance long enough to stand up. (Remember, all the while you’re holding that paddle.)

Want to give it a try? Northwest Passage in Wilmette, an outdoor adventure company, offers weekend SUP classes as well as private instruction.

Classes range from four to 15 people with a guide, according to Northwest Passage’s Chris Paustian.

Lessons cover everything from the sport basics to preparing for ocean surf in Hawaii and California.

Gillson Beach in Wilmette is the main meeting location, and groups of paddleboarders often can be seen making their way on a round-trip three-mile trek that includes taking in the Baha’i Temple and Northwestern University’s shoreline.

Maybe you’re up for SUP with a twist. Then SUP Salutation on Wednesday mornings is for you.

The a two-hour yoga class is performed on paddleboards. A certified yoga instructor guides the class through poses that can be done on a board in the water.