Daily Fitness: Paddle Like a Diva

(This article first appeared in the July 12, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


It’s noon on a windy, sunless Saturday as I arrive at Shagwong Marina in Springs to meet the Paddle Diva team. After receiving an email that morning that read “We never cancel,” I should have been tipped off that I’d be in for a rough introduction to paddle boarding. It was time for SUP FUN: Tour and Fitness! Bathing suit on and sized up with my paddle and board (see the connection there?), after a brief tutorial I was aquatic where it all started.

“The inspiration for Paddle Diva came in this harbor,” Gina Bradley, founder of Paddle Diva explained. “My husband [Scott Bradley] and I had the first two paddleboards ever made on Long Island and I would load those big, huge heavy things in the back of my girl friends’ pick-up truck. I sort of taught myself and taught my friends how to paddle, because I was always the lead.”

Paddling into the wind, to avoid being taken adrift, I kept my legs steady, core tight, and arms in a continuous motion with the paddle deep in the water. It was all a rhythm. Despite the adversity of conditions I was relaxed through the help of my fellow “divas.”

Diva is the name of the board used and the name for Bradley’s company. Back in 2009 it started with only two boards while teaming up with a board maker to manufacture “divas” — those small enough for women.

During a meal at Babette’s in East Hampton, “I was like, ‘I’m going to start a business,’ and Scott was chuckling at me. ‘Women don’t belong on those boards. Those are ocean boards.’ Nobody knew how this sport was going to bang out,” remembered Bradley. But she knew better, realizing the potential for the female enthusiast if only properly built and marketed.

Initially, boards were up to 11-12 feet and would take three persons to pick it up. Bradley, a true pioneer in the sport of stand-up paddle boarding, envisioned a handle for hassle-free carry, in addition to smaller dimensions. While men typically do well on a board 11’6 – 12 feet, 32 inches wide, most women perform best on a 10’6 board between 28 to 30 inches wide.

But what’s a business without a catchy name? Scott Bradley had the answer.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you just call it Paddle Diva because with you everything is diva, parking and getting a diva table.'” Bradley admitted,

“You’re right. I live for diva parking, it’s the best parking around,” pointing to the first spot in the parking lot where her pick-up truck was.

While the activity is a great way to keep fit, it’s also an appreciation for a certain lifestyle. Bradley has a second year-round brick and mortar location for her company in Rincon, the famed tropical surfers’ paradise in Puerto Rico. Since 1998 the Bradley family — Gina, Scott and their two children — has vacationed there, and built a home. Wanting others to experience the same beauty she’s soaked in for years, the company offers retreats to the area. As an escape from the cold, the retreats provide more than yoga or SUP lessons. Guests have the option to participate in as much or as little as desired with other activities such as waterfall adventures, exploring the island, and more.

“This sport is constantly evolving and people are getting more and more skills,” Bradley explained. “In my core, I want people to like it, I want them to have the most seamless experience and love the sport,” she admitted. “[I plan for] no accidents because I’ve done them all so I know what they all are.”

Locally, Paddle Diva rents out boards at $50/hour with $10 each additional hour to those who are skilled enough and are familiar with the water, even offering offsite rentals for an extra $10 pickup and delivery charge. Want to go all out? Rent for an entire day, from 9 AM to 6 PM. Aside from their East Hampton location, Paddle Diva paddles out of Gurney’s and The Surf Lodge in Montauk.

As I finished my lesson, after a brief fall in while attempting to Instagram (a product of my generation, but I’ll blame it on the wind), I couldn’t wait to return and try again. But with all the other SUP companies out there it’s a testament to Bradley’s expertise that she stays afloat.

Without worry, Bradley confidently expressed, “I love it [the competition]. It makes me put my head down and work harder, work smarter and innovate and get ahead of it. So that people are copying you versus getting ahead of you. Every day I wake up, it’s kind of corny, and I pretty much say ‘It’s a brand new day.’ It’s the only thing you get, guaranteed, new and shiny and bright every day, every time you open your eyes…What’s going to happen?”

Perhaps the policy of “We never cancel” goes beyond just her company. A special thank you to my official instructor, Steve Tavolilla, for unleashing my inner Diva!


Paddle Diva is located at 219 Three Mile Harbor HC Road, at Shagwong Marina. For more information visit paddlediva.com or call 631-329-2999.

Daily Fitness: Cool Zone Cryo

(This article first appeared in the June 7, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


The coolest way to burn calories and speed up your metabolism has arrived in Water Mill. Cool Zone Cryo, located on 760 Montauk Highway, is a whole-body and facial rejuvenation cryotherapy facility.

With a grand opening over Memorial Day weekend, this is the second wellness facility for Dr. Daniel Fenster, who also runs a holistic wellness center in Manhattan on 30 East 60th St. and Park Avenue.

Fenster owns a family house in Mattituck and decided to help his clients and the East End community through the magnitude of benefits cryotherapy has to offer.

Cryotherapy is anti-inflammatory and can result in mood elevation, stronger immunity, tightening of the skin, better sleep, reduction in soreness and even weight loss (an average 500 to 800 calories are burned over the course of a day). The benefits far outweigh the bitter cold to achieve them.

“One of the effects is that it shocks the body into a fight or flight response … in a very controlled environment,” Fenster described. “You need a certain amount [of sessions] to get to a certain level…[the recommended amount is] 10 times in a month, then one every other week or twice a week.”

As I put on my robe and fuzzy slippers, along with protective eye wear, I laid down for my 12-minute facial rejuvenation session. A cold, swift motion of nitrogen swept across my face and neck, a nice change from the warm air outside. Once that was completed it was time for my full body cryotherapy. As I disrobed, only keeping on my intimates and slippers, I placed mittens on my hands and entered the -250 degrees Fahrenheit chamber. The gaseous chill, the appearance of dry ice, filled up the tube, exposing only my face above the surface.

Thirty seconds. No problem. A minute. Okay this is tough. At about a minute and a half my legs began to tingle, a sensation completely normal and expected. By the time my three minutes were up, I was relieved to be back in room temperature.

Minus the hint of being light headed for a moment, the next day the pain I had from working out the days’ prior was gone. While I know I’d have to frequent more often to get the full benefits, the experience was tolerable and I’d certainly return. After all, can you think of an easier way to burn hundreds of calories in three minutes?

Managing partner Geney Kim expects a good season ahead. “People that are active need this…and it’s great for people who travel back and forth because they have the option to use both locations.”