South magazine [82] HEALTH & WELLNESS 2019 - Page 32

S EXTREME DOC Physican and kitesurfer, Dr. Batson placed 3rd in 2017, 2nd in 2018 and 4th in 2019 in the 14’ stand-up paddleboard division of the Chattajack 31, a 31-mile race through the Tennessee River Gorge. EXTREME DOC Xtreme Doc How being on the water shaped one doctor’s life. A s a college windsurfer, Dr. John Batson suffered a back injury that just wouldn’t heal. Finally, he found a doctor who specialized in sports medicine and got him on the path to recovery. “I walked out of this office and thought, ‘this is what I want to do.’” That career path allows him to work with active-minded people who prioritize health in the same ways he does. Batson started windsurfing in high school and went on to become a windsurfing and kayaking guide for Outside Hilton Head. Over the years, that passion for being on the water led to more extreme pursuits. He took up kitesurfing and competitive paddleboarding. “Kitesurfing is much safer now than it was ten years ago. It has evolved as I’ve grown up. At the beginning, I wrote kitesurfing off as too dangerous. A couple years later with some new equipment, it became much more doable and safe,” he says. When there’s no wind, Batson practices standup paddleboarding, and he takes it seriously. “Not many people do it for fitness. A lot of people get on a paddleboard and tootle around,” he says. But the sport can give you a great workout. Batson just finished a nine-mile paddleboard race and is planning more in the future. “Events like that require training,” he says. He recommends everyone find something they like to do outdoors that gets them moving, and standup paddleboarding is an accessible sport that lends itself to people of all ability levels – you can tootle around or, like Batson, you can turn it up. • Tybee Island Georgia The next time you’re in Savannah, drum up some courage and go kitesurfing on the south end of Tybee Island. It’s a popular beach for local kitesurfers. Located at the southernmost tip of the island, it offers prime conditions for an incredible kitesurfing experience. Tybee is home to many kitesurfing schools where you can get outfitted and paired up with qualified instructors to learn basic safety, how to operate the equipment and how to get up on a board. Ready to kitesurf? Go to boardloft. com. They offer the only IKO certified kitesurfing instruction in the are WRITTEN BY: MOLLY CLANCY / PHOTO:BRACKETT PHOTOGRAPHY 30 SOUTH December | January 2020 2019