Bearfoot Performance Paddling
Balance, Energy, Adventure, Respect

Why Go with Us?

Stand up paddle programs are springing up everywhere! Why should you learn from us? Because there are three things you need from a paddling school if you are going to become a great paddler - excellence in instruction; experienced analysis and coaching; and lots of time on the water. And we design each of our programs to give you all that!
Excellence in instruction includes clear and concise demonstration and explanation of paddling skills and knowledge and a focus on key concepts and principles that are designed to help you to understand and retain what you need to know! We train other instructors - we know what we are doing and what we are talking about!
Effective analysis of paddling technique and coaching comes with years of instructional experience and working with hundreds of clients. We have all kinds of tips, tricks, exercises and drills to help you understand and improve your stand up paddling skills. We are not just instructors - we are guides, coaches and mentors committed to getting you to where you want to be!
Our courses are longer than many others out there. Because on-water practice and individual feedback is important. We don’t skimp on time, or rush through skills with a short course - paddling comfort, confidence and safety come with repetition and experience, and we design our programs with those fundamental principles in mind!

Why we do it?

We love Stand Up Paddling and we want to see you maximize your enjoyment, fun, and safety while out on the water. Expand your paddling horizons, and reach your paddling potential!

The BEARfoot Philosophy

In all of our personal and professional SUP relationships we try to cultivate our core values – values of the BEAR - Balance, Energy, Adventure, and Respect.

    • We think Stand Up Paddling promotes Balance – not just physical balance but balance in life – work and play, action and rest, mind and body, tradition and change.
    • We think Stand Up Paddling is Energizing – training and technique develop flexibility, strength and endurance that you can carry into other parts of your life. And nothing quite clears the mind and refreshes the spirit like a great session out on the water!
    • Stand Up Paddling is about Adventure – Like legendary surfer Gerry Lopez, we believe that adventure is where you find it - your local pond or canal, exploring quiet lakes and streams, paddling the ocean or surfing river and ocean waves! Adventure is where you find it and Stand Up Paddling is a great way to get you there!
    • Stand Up Paddlers paddle with Respect – we paddle out with awareness, care and compassion for the environment, for the fish and wildlife that use our waters, and with respect for other paddlers and those who share our waterways.


bear in water - River wildlife with
Photo Credit - Stevin Tuchiwsky @stevint

Our Guides & Adventurers

Neil Gilson

Founder, Instructor, Paddler

One of Canada's top Instructor Trainers

The Founder, and lead instructor and guide for Bearfoot Performance Paddling, Neil grew up camping, canoeing and fishing the waters of the Manitoba/Ontario Canadian Shield and began leading backcountry paddling trips right out of high school. Over a 30-plus year career Neil has paddled and worked as a whitewater canoe and rafting guide, ocean kayak guide and most recently as a stand up paddle instructor throughout western Canada including Nahanni, Gwaii Haanas, and Pacific Rim National Parks, the Yukon and northwest territories and all along the foothills rivers of the Canadian Rockies.
Neil is currently a certified Paddle Canada Flatwater and River SUP Instructor Trainer, and SUP Touring Instructor with Advanced Wilderness First Aid and CPR credentials. As a former Level 3 guide with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC and a CRCA Senior Whitewater Canoe Instructor, Neil brings a wealth of all-round, on-water paddling experience to bear on course design and delivery that few other instructors can claim.
In addition to a wealth of paddling experience, Neil is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer with an interest in training and performance aspects of paddling, to add to his focus on paddling technique and on-water experience. Neil also holds University degrees in Environmental Design, Outdoor Recreation and Geography and when not paddling can often be found skiing, hiking or mountaineering somewhere in the Rockies!

 Some Instagoodness... (@bearfoot_performance_paddling)

    Contact us

    • Address

      Out On The Water
      Canmore, Alberta
    • Phone

      +1 587 580 5539
    • E-mail

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