Rocking the Boathouse

There’s a new crew handling rentals and classes near the Key Bridge in Georgetown

July 30, 2013

Key Bridge Boathouse has added standup paddleboarding fitness classes for folks looking for new exercises on the water.

There were some big canoes to fill when Jack’s Boathouse, a fixture on the Georgetown waterfront for 68 years, reopened in April as Key Bridge Boathouse (3500 Water St. NW; 202-337-9642, keybridgeboathouse.com).

John W. “Jack” Baxter, a D.C. cop for 11 years, started the business in 1945 with just six rowboats that he built himself. It grew into a neighborhood institution that helped generations of Washingtonians get out on to the Potomac. Baxter passed away in 1999, and when the National Park Service updated the lease last year, the concession contract was awarded to Boston Outdoor Recreation.

Operations manager Nicholas Verrochi says the goal is to keep the “spirit of Jack’s alive.” The new business retains the services Jack’s had — rentals, lessons and boat storage — while adding fresh options for customers.

Aside from a few cosmetic changes, including more picnic benches and a new inventory of 160 kayaks, Key Bridge Boathouse looks much like Jack’s did last summer. Most of the staff has stayed on, and one of the most popular offerings is a holdover from the Jack’s days: the Twilight Kayak Adventure ($45), a 90-minute guided trip around Theodore Roosevelt Island and past the Lincoln Memorial at dusk.

“For tourists, it’s a cool way to see the city,” Verrochi says. “For locals, it’s a cool way to get outside the city.”

To tap into growing interest in the sport of standup paddleboarding (or SUP), Key Bridge Boathouse has expanded its programming to include a range of courses taught on the wide boards that allow passengers to stand, kneel or sit as they float on the water.

No experience is necessary to sign up for SUP yoga ($35) with instructor Jane Daly, who describes her “ebb and flow” classes as a way to get a mini vacation.

“You can slow down, breathe, move mindfully and try something new,” Daly says.

Students can also try something more fast-paced with SUP fitness classes ($35). They should be prepared to sweat — and even fall off their boards — as instructor Stephen Benkert leads them through 75 minutes of pushups, paddle sprints and burpees.

An added bonus with this kind of aqua aerobics? “You can work out while you work on your tan,” Benkert says.

Michelle Lee, 27, has tried both SUP yoga and SUP fitness and loves how different the experiences are from classes she’s taken on land.

“[It’s] a good way to wrap up the day and appreciate what’s around you,” the Dupont Circle resident says. “You don’t get this view, this perspective, even running along the water.”

If anyone in the community has suggestions for other classes or offerings, general manager Beth Rinker says she wants to hear them.

“We are excited to be here, to be part of the history,” she says.

Paddle Pushers: The team that’s behind the Key Bridge Boathouse, Boston Outdoor Recreation, is testing the waters in the Anacostia River now, too. Ball Park Boathouse (ballparkboathouse.com), which opened July 20, is offering kayak rentals from Diamond Teague Park — near Nationals Park, hence the name. Prices are the same at both the Key Bridge and Ball Park locations: single kayak is $15/hour, double kayak is $20/hour, and customers going for a full day are charged for four hours.

Written by Express contributor Kathleen Rellihan

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