Interview: Benny Marr on his Online Paddling & Yoga Classes
On top of being among the best big water paddlers ever, whether running gnarly runs, surfing humungous waves, or running monster waterfalls, Benny Marr has been practicing yoga for many years. Always curious for practices to improve his paddling skills have lead Benny to structured breathing practices, eating healthy to fuel activity and enable faster recovery, off water exercise and training as well as looking towards other athletes to see what works at the top end in other sports. On top of paddling insane whitewater across the world – these are some of Benny’s obsession over the past decade.
Last year he started to share his experiences through retreats that combine both paddling and yoga. Over a week participants get to see and live what Benny would consider the ideal lifestyle. Easy access to whitewater, nice quiet space to practice yoga, quiet place to sleep and 3 glorious meals a day prepared by a professional chef. While for Benny you can’t beat a week like that, limiting decision making to focus on paddling – if you live far from the Ottawa River ( where he hosts the retreats ) You have to consider travelling and investing more time.
Starting Monday, May 25 Benny will be offering online yoga & paddling technique classes. So yes anyone can join in next week to spend a week with Benny, learn from the master, without even moving from your home… Which is a good thing considering half of the world has to stay at home anyway…
We just talked with him to understand a little further why you should sign for a retreats with Benny Marr.
“I love the retreats and I will keep organizing them both on the Ottawa River and to the Zambezi and Futaleufu Rivers abroad. I think the experience is worth the cost but I wanted find a way to serve a larger portion of our whitewater community as well.”
Benny, for those who are foreign to Yoga, and the online class, tell us more how those work and how big the phenom is around the world. You are personally a big fan.
Yoga is the pairing of breath and movement through postures that can but do not have to flow together and is typically lead by an instructor or practiced alone. Personally I find the instructor has a huge impact on the experience and whether or not someone will take another class. Online yoga has been available for a long, long time and is how I started. I like the time commitment being my choice and being able to practice at my convenience without having to travel to a studio. As soon as you find an instructor you like with classes online you are set. During Covid-10 instructors, studios, and clients all went through a fast change in how they taught or took their workout classes. Through my sponsor lululemon I was exposed to a lot of their ambassadors who were offering classes to other ambassadors. I like the platform, I took classes daily from experts in their fields and 2 of those coaches will be guests at my online course.
What are your retreats all about? Yoga and paddling skills… What are we talking about here?
My retreats aim to provide a week where a client has to make no decisions and experience a lot of time on the water. We take care of the food, logistics, lodging. We grow as paddlers and expand our social circles, we do yoga in the morning, and I share via stories, example, and action how I think we can all progress as kayakers and humans. The online course is mimicking the retreat vibe in the sense that we will come together to do yoga and other movement classes. We will learn about breathing exercises together from an expert. I will teach live kayaking classes and give the kayaker drills they can work on at home on the flats or wherever they go kayaking. I record everything and upload it after so they have the videos for later / if they couldn’t make it live.
« I think a better question is how can someone learn new kayaking skills, or get better at kayaking through a computer? We almost all already do »
How does that work technically…? You teach online using Zoom right? Can people actually interact with you at some stage? Do you directly interact with them? How does that work?
Yes, I am using Zoom for the classes. I will also use Instagram as a way to connect with those who use that platform to have an open Q and A throughout the week. The meeting will “open” before the class starts and I will remain after the classes to chat to anyone with questions or comments on the class and how to apply what we did to kayaking. Or, how I apply what we did to kayaking.
Ok so that is for the yoga, breathing, and workouts. What about the paddling? How can one teach another kayaking through a computer?
I think a better question is how can someone learn new kayaking skills, or get better at kayaking through a computer? We almost all already do. Any video that captures my attention I am learning from. Taking things I can bring into my own style or seeing a new line, or seeing an old line I want to re visit, or seeing a new river that I want to go too, or seeing a rapid run smoother thank I have run it Im always ( when intrigued) asking my self how exactly did they do that? How can I do that? Maybe this isn’t the way that everybody interprets footage but on some level I think how we process footage is part of learning. Maybe a better answer is it is up to me to do a good job teaching kayaking through the computer. My plan, is to use the live platform, video assets and stories to deliver the message of the technique and then instructions on how and where to practice these techniques.
« My goal is to expose people to coaches, practices, movements, techniques and repeatable practicable drills to improve their kayaking create more hunger for progression.«
So it is more experience sharing, telling about sensations, than actual pure technical clinics right?
I know that people learn differently from one another so I want to get as much as I can in for everybody. I also know that I can’t just make the classes into exactly what I think would work best for me. The live platform gives us a chance to talk and ask each other questions about the content that I am sharing.
Give us an idea of the weeklong program you are offering…What can your students expect?
2 live kayaking technique classes : The Forward Stroke, Reading whitewater & staying calm on the river
3 live yoga classes
3 guest coaches ( breathing exercises / bodyweight training / Foundation training )
2 of my favourite recipes
« The more work I put into understanding my body and health while constantly relating it back to kayaking the more improvements«
Is there a goal to reach at the end of the week? One would say at the end you will roll in the moving water kinda of thing?
My goal is to expose people to coaches, practices, movements, techniques and repeatable practicable drills to improve their kayaking create more hunger for progression. The more work I put into understanding my body and health while constantly relating it back to kayaking the more improvements I see. But only I can create that energy for myself. A participants goal should be to join and look for tips tricks and techniques that work for them and that they can apply to their lives and their work on the river. Take what works for you and leave what does not. If you start to get more curious about how to improve and then find the best ways for yourself to do so, my goal for you is that you start becoming one of the best paddlers in your normal group of paddling buddies 😉
How often do you run those retreats? Do you still have room for the one starting next week?
This is brand new for me! I like it and I am already thinking of ways to offer more online and work with some of my friends / coaches to really bring quality offerings to the community.
What is the cost ?
$150 Canadian Dollars for the week. ( $106 USD ).
People have the option while booking to add on private online coaching at check out as well! So we can do video review and go deeper into skills techniques for a more focused approach.
Book your classe with Benny Marr: www.bennyfcknmarr.com