A real stand-up girl

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Beth Brewster owner of Kingston Adventures on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. MEEGAN M. REID/KITSAP SUN

Beth Brewster, endurance athlete and business owner, has embraced a new trend in paddling recreation.

KINGSTON — When it comes to fitness, Beth Brewster doesn’t let anything stop her – except sharks.

A veteran of six Ironman competitions, the compact blond is training for the invitation-only 2013 Ultraman World Championship, a three-day, 320-mile biking, running and swimming race on the Big Island of Hawaii. She expects to be the only Pacific Northwest woman competing in a field of 37, dominated by men.

But before she embarks on the 6.2-mile swim, she has to overcome a lifelong fear of sharks that has deterred her from the competition since she first qualified in 2009. Brewster, who grew up on the East Coast, blames the movie “Jaws” for stoking her fear. To combat it, she’s learning as much about sharks as possible. She also plans to swim the race alongside a former coach and will have a kayak escort.

When she’s not training for the race or researching the tiger sharks that live off the Hawaiian coast, the 42-year-old Kingston woman is an avid stand up paddle boarder, a sport she took up six years ago as a way to cross-train.

“What I loved about it is that it’s such an incredibly peaceful workout because you’re away from everything,” Brewster said. “But it’s really hard-core at the same time because you’re using every muscle in your body.”

She said the sport, which is the latest craze in water fitness, has about a 3-minute learning curve. Demonstrating on a sunny afternoon, Brewster stands with knees slightly bent and feet wide apart on a 12-foot-long orange board that looks a lot like a surfboard. Grasping a paddle that has a T-shaped handle at the top for leverage, she easily skims across the gentle ripples of Appletree Cove near the Kingston ferry terminal, bending her knees and leaning forward with each paddle stroke.

The key to balancing, she said, is to keep your hips and legs loose, while engaging your core muscles to balance as the board rocks under your feet.

A high school swimmer who did her first triathlon at 17, Brewster last year turned her lifelong devotion to fitness into a business called Kingston Adventures, where she and her husband Rob rent and sell sports equipment including paddle boards, kayaks and mountain bikes, and provide excursions, clinics and kids’ camps.

Before that, Brewster said she was stuck in corporate hell as a running-clothes product line manager, fantasizing about ways to encourage families to be active. To that end, Kingston Adventures rents paddle boards for $10 an hour and each child accompanied by an adult gets one free hour of paddle boarding.

“When I see families out there laughing together and exercising, I know we’re doing the right thing,” she said.

As with other sports, Brewster takes her paddle boarding to an extreme level. From May to October, you can find her on the water up to four times a week. In addition to vigorous paddling, her 60- to 90-minute workouts include such challenges as push-ups, sit-ups and plank position while balancing on the board.

Brewster is organizing an August triathlon called the Peninsula Relay Challenge that combines a 10K stand up paddle from Appletree Cove to Indianola, with a 12K trail run and 12K mountain bike ride. The race benefits the North Kitsap Trails Association.

As a paddle boarder and as an athlete, Brewster is always working toward a mind-body balance to help her achieve her fitness goals. That’s a message that she shares with others as a motivational speaker at women’s fitness retreats that she organizes throughout the year.

“I think women have a responsibility to inspire and motivate each other,” she said. “I hope I’m still doing this when I’m 80.”

— Terri Gleich

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