Wimpy Tidal Basin boats not paddling enough splash into your summer? Challenge muscles you didn't know you had while feeding your on-the-water fix with white-water kayaking. Unlike white-water rafting, this is a solo sport -- just you, the kayak and the river. Co-ed classes abound, but nuances in hip flexibility and upper-body strength influence kayaking enough to make a ladies-only class an appealing option. Just as rigorous as the co-ed training, these classes are taught by some of the top women kayakers in the country and will have you doing an Eskimo roll before sunset.
What to Expect: Washington area kayakers are fortunate: The Potomac's hydraulics are nearly always good for a thrill. If you're new to the sport, consider signing up for a beginners' weekend. The first day usually is about equipment and water safety. The course will then move to calm water, where you'll learn proper strokes and turns, as well as how to roll a kayak, which will help you right yourself if the rapids toss you upside down. You'll also get some understanding of river currents and how to navigate your kayak. These are the same skills you'll perfect as you advance to learning in white water on the second day.
What to Bring: Most beginner classes include all the necessary equipment (kayak, paddle, life jacket, helmet and a spray skirt for the craft), but the more advanced classes may require you to provide some or all of your own stuff, including the kayak. Confirm what you'll need to bring with the company in advance. At the very least, you'll want some sort of wet suit; it can get cold on the river even in hot, muggy weather.
Cost: $95 to $300. Price depends on the length of the course (day or weekend), number of people in your group, and whether you've scheduled a private group lesson or are joining an existing class. When you're ready to buy your own, kayaks run $900 to $2,000, with additional costs for wet suits, splash skirts, paddles, life jackets and helmets.
Canoe Kayak and Paddle Co. 2218 Nobehar Dr., Vienna. 703-264-8911. www.canoeinstructor.net. Learn the essentials of kayaking in a calm-water, women-only seven-hour class: June 25 at 9 a.m. at a local lake. Cost: $120, includes equipment rental.
Adventure Challenge. 4400 E. Main St., Richmond. 888-717-7238. www.adventurechallenge.com. Head south to take part in a Women's Two Day Beginner Course. Taught by female instructors, this class includes all necessary equipment. Maximum class size of eight. Courses offered on weekends in the summer; closed July 2-3 and Aug. 13-14. Cost: $130.
Potomac Paddlesports. Potomac. 301-831-8270. www.potomacpaddlesports.com. This Maryland company offers classes on the Potomac. The more advanced kayaker can attend a "Play Girls" workshops taught by kayak superstar Kristen Podolak. Attendees should have completed a beginner course, own their own craft and be able to do a solid roll. Women's classes are June 25 and July 23 at 9 a.m. and last about five hours. Cost: $95.
River & Trail Outfitters. 604 Valley Rd., Knoxville, Md., 888-446-7529. www.rivertrail.com. Close to Harper's Ferry, this family-friendly outfit doesn't offer classes just for ladies, but it will outfit a private class. Cost: $106 for a beginner lesson; $179 for a weekend package that combines beginner and intermediate lessons.
River Riders Inc. 408 Alstadts Hill Rd., Harpers Ferry, W. Va., 800-326-7238. www.riverriders.com. Like River & Trails, this outfit doesn't cater just to women, but it does offer private group lessons. Most of the groups are adults in their 30s to early 50s. Cost: $120 per person for a half-day lesson; $220 for a full day; for groups of two or more the prices drop.
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