Rutabaga is Positively Wisconsin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rutabaga is Positively Wisconsin


MONONA (WKOW) -- Summer in Wisconsin means watersports.

But, there's few sports that tout a ''zen-like'' connection with the water ... like paddling does.

And whether you like canoeing or kayaking, a company called Rutabaga can introduce you to a spiritual experience that's Positively Wisconsin.

It's owned by Darren Bush. And before he picked up a kayak and paddle full time, he slogged through a different kind of life.

"I sat on a desk and calculated the unemployment rate and the breast cancer survival rate," he says, "and basically went slowly insane."

But then, he saw the light, and Rutabaga helped show him the way.

He started here as a part-time employee.

Now he owns the small company.

"I really never aspired to be big, I just aspired to be good." Says Darren.

An aspiration that he's clearly achieved.

Rutabaga is recognized as one of the best paddling shops in the entire country.

Darren says one of his favorite parts of the job is introducing people to the activity of paddling and Wisconsin's waterways. And the first thing you notice when you get in a kayak is not the traffic noise in the background, but the sound of the paddle, peacfully moving through the water.

"The closer you are to the water," says Darren, "the more peaceful it is."

It's the kind of experience that Darren says can have a profound impact.

"I taught a solo private class to a woman a couple of years ago, she was a school teacher, and she got out of the boat and I turned around and she grabbed me and hugged me and said thank you for changing my life. And I thought Wow! That's a big deal."

Changing people's lives is a great way to make a living.

And when he's not affecting other people's karma, he's working on his own.

"Well, I've paddled all over the world" he says, "and my favorite place to paddle is Lake Wingra which is five blocks from my house.""Reporter: How much does your blood pressure drop when you're out on the water? Bush: Significantly, it's actually a physical phenomenon. You get on the water, your breathing changes, blood pressure drops and it's like when you do yoga or any other meditative activity."

Darren could easily take Rutabaga public and make a boatload of money, but that would go against everything he stands for.

Instead, he's beholden to no one and free to lead his life and his business in a way that's Positively Wisconsin.

Rutabaga outdoor programs is the largest flatwater paddling school in the country.

It was also named retailer of the year from canoe and kayak magazine for 2003, 2004, and 2006.

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