Not all buyers of boards are created equal and by this we mean in terms of pre-existing ability and aspirations. In the case of someone who has never been involved with on-water activities, specifically board sports, the learning curve will be steeper and the expectations somewhat lower in respect of input in for output gained, accept for the enjoyment factor, which should always remain high.
One thing remains true of SUP and that is as much of a fantastic cross training tool for any number of other activities which may be your primary sport. For the runner, triathlete, walker, climber, skier, canoeists, windsurfer, sailor, kayaker, footballer and any other activity you can think of, SUP challenges fine and gross motor co-ordination, strengthens core muscles when practiced correctly, improves balance, reflexes, flexibility and the list goes on. Sure you can go to a Gym and pay big fees, but SUP will do most all you can achieve in the gym and more and in more natural, fun application of body and mind in an outdoor environment, where you can connect with the natural world. It has also proven an excellent springboard into water sports in a low impact way which can lead into other sports and this is proving true of SUP paddlers discovering outrigger canoeing, growing in popularity from Europe to Japan transplanted from the Pacific Islands and of kayaking and even windsurfing.
SUP need not be your primary sport, but as a means to an end and as a mechanism for training for your primary sport and for an entry into water sports and this is way SUP is here to stay as a reason to get involved. When it comes to investing, your need for inflatable or laminated will be driven by your storage limitations, transportability and budget. Our view is that you should opt for the laminated hardboard as the best option if its feasible to your lifestyle and living arrangements, failing this an inflatable will be the best option once you work through your check list. Hardcore athletes, generally prefer the performance merits of a hardboard, whilst, families and travellers will opt for the inflatable option, regardless it will always be external factors and needs and wants which will determine what to purchase. One other factor to consider, if the board is for your use only, avoid investing in a board which is perhaps too stable and slow, being as once you improve, you will soon outgrow your boards limits and soon want to upgrade!