Off the Grid Adventures offers unique exercise on Watauga Lake

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

For Tony Weaver, co-owner of Off the Grid Adventures on Watauga Lake, and fitness instructor Jessi Bullock, the popular, heart-racing POUND exercise was tough but it wasn’t enough.

And that is why they decided to take it to a whole new level by offering the classes on the back of paddleboards.

Utilizing drumsticks, POUND was created by professional drummers and is a workout program that engages the total body while having participants keep rhythm with upbeat and fast-paced music.

“Hitting things is obviously a good way of getting rid of stress,” said Bullock. “I have been doing it now for six or seven years. It is a total arm, leg and core workout.”

POUND is already a tough exercise, but incorporating the balance it takes to stand on top of a paddleboard brings a whole lot more to the activity, said Bullock.

“It is a lot tougher than you think,” she said. “I teach POUND twice a week. But as soon as I get on that board, it feels like a totally different workout. Being on the paddleboard engages the core and legs a whole lot more because you are having to balance on the board. It is a lot of fun.”

Bullock, who is a certified POUND instructor, first encountered the exercise at a gym in Johnson City.

“I loved the teacher,” said Bullock. “She had great energy. I just wanted to teach it and bring it to Elizabethton. I mean you had your Zumba and you had your yoga. I just wanted to provide something different.

“The first time you try it, you don’t know what’s going on,” Bullock added with a laugh. “That’s why I always tell people to come back and try it a second time to see if they really like it.”

Weaver and Bullock married paddleboarding and POUND two years ago and it has been a great relationship ever since, drawing in new people every year, some of who come from out of state to try the invigorating experience. It was on a whim that Weaver and Bullock decided to try and combine the two totally unrelated activities.

“She (Weaver) said this would be great to do on a paddleboard,” said Bullock. “But I had never been on a paddleboard. So me, Tony, and Seba (Arnett, Bullock’s assistant instructor) went out on the lake. We went to the cove and just played around. We wanted to see if it could be modified to be done on a paddleboard and that is how it all happened.”

Weaver co-owns Off the Grid Adventures with Adam Buckles. Off the Grid Adventures, which is located at Fish Springs Marina on Watauga Lake, is the first company to offer paddleboarding in East Tennessee and has been in action since 2011.

Providing paddleboard, canoe, kayak, and jet ski rentals, Off the Grid Adventures offers plenty of fun for lake goers. Along with the popular POUND paddleboard classes, Off the Grid Adventures also offers yoga on paddleboards.

“We have a lot of people doing the POUND classes because it is so much fun,” said Weaver. “You are exercising on a board in the lake. And if you get too hot, you can jump into the water and cool off.”

Ever since Off the Grid Adventures opened, they have offered fundraisers for local organizations and causes. Many of the fundraisers have helped local sports teams like Hampton football, Cloudland basketball, and even the robotics team at Happy Valley High School.

“Even when we really couldn’t afford to do it, we did it,” said Weaver. “We thought it was really important to give back to the community.”

The company also does a fundraiser every year called “Matthew’s Way.” The event raises funds for a local woman whose son, who was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, died after being tased by police.

“We do Matthew’s Way every year for his mom,” said Weaver. “I just love her and want to help.”

While visiting Off the Grid Adventures, the first thing one will notice is how the group of lake lovers that help Weaver with the operations of the company are like one big family. And their love for the lake and fun definitely rubs off.

“I just love it here at the lake and I love my lake family,” said Weaver. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

For more information, visit the Off the Grid Adventures Facebook page or visit their website at