Health, Fitness and Kiteboarding
June 2021 Issue
by Edwina Hoyle
Photography by Cassidy Dunn Photography
Alice Batson of Hilton Head has always excelled in sports. Her father was athletic, her mom, artistic. So in high school she was a runner and swimmer who studied dance and piano. Nowadays she is into extreme water sports and travels the world looking for big winds and water, as well as opportunities to do further training.
“I’m passionate about exploring the planet, seeing new areas, and I love the thrill of the sport and enjoying the world God made,” Batson said. Her new love is kiteboarding where she hovers just above the water and is carried on the wind by her kite. “I love doing new things. It keeps me excited to accomplish new goals and learn new sports. I love being outside, exercising and immersing myself in nature and the beauty of where we live. I challenge myself mentally and physically.”
In college Alice received a scholarship to be a competitive swimmer at Florida State, a Division One university where she studied exercise science, a program on fitness and nutrition. She then earned a Master’s in public health from the University of South Carolina. Her husband, John, is a doctor who practices spine and sports medicine, and they are both avid water sports athletes. “I’m just a sidekick,” Alice joked. “He is a competitive windsurfer who began at age 11. He was the first to learn kiteboarding in 2013.”
Alice studied kiteboarding from experts in Cape Hatteras. She believes that when you learn a new skill, you should find the best teachers. She has also traveled to the Turks & Caicos for lessons; and returned to Cape Hatteras to learn kiteboarding tricks like a back flip and jumps with grabs. “It’s not an easy thing to learn, but once you learn how to kiteboard, it becomes easy and lots of fun. Hilton Head is a great place to kiteboard. We have deep water and the wind currents can go in each direction because it’s an island. I recommend a great school to learn. You need a certified instructor with a great support team. Kiteboarding is extreme but relaxing. I see sharks, stingrays and dolphins. I’m above them in the air and can see them, but I’m not dangling in the water. Because we have steady winds, we can go year round. Just put on a wetsuit and go in December or even February.”
She said there is an informal, local kite community that goes out together two to three times a week, and she tries to go out every day in the summer depending on the wind.
Alice has also surfed on a long board and feels surfing is a lot of work that offers little pleasure because Hilton Head doesn’t have great waves or the best conditions. But the kite is all pleasure because the conditions are excellent.
Her passion to see the world and enjoy her sport has taken her to the Cayman Islands, Exuma, Nevis, St. Kitts, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and all over the Florida coast. When she travels she loves to hike, visit waterfalls, explore caves. She has gone snowboarding (another extreme sport she loves) in Italy.
Alice has taught group step aerobics for 30 years and loves it. She is also a “Peloton fiend.” She said, “Peloton is so much fun. It challenges you with the instructors. I love pushing myself and making fitness fun. An active lifestyle is not a chore.”
When Alice isn’t out on the water, she works as a health coach specializing in nutrition, fitness and behavior. “If you want to make changes, or want to be fit, find someone who fits your style and who inspires you. Make it enjoyable, make a commitment, and make it convenient. You have to figure out ways to adapt. With convenience, fun and getting pleasure in life, you’ll sustain better habits. If you hate it, you won’t go back. For example, if you told me you wanted to learn a sport, I’d help you find a great program to learn the basics. You should spend hours on structured lessons…then you’ll go from zero to hero!”
> Alice specialized in obesity and health when she studied for her Master’s degree.
> She swears that people 90 years old can kiteboard because it doesn’t require tremendous upper body strength, just balance and core strength. The rider is tethered to the kite with a harness around the waist, so your arms and hands are used to steer the kite—kind of like hang gliding with water.
> One necessary skill in kiteboarding is to retrieve the board, because if you lose the board and the kite pulls you out in the ocean, you could be in trouble.