Brian with Rowers

5 Things to Consider When Doing Rowing Workouts

Dubbed as “the new spinning”, rowing is one fast-growing workout trend with rowing studios and classes popping up across the country.  In this guide, we’ve got all the details about this workout trend from top-notch instructors.

What Makes Rowing So Awesome?

Molly Setnick from Crowbar Cardio in Dallas calls rowing a “a major calorie-burner, toner, and strengthener” because it uses pretty much every muscle in your body.  Tish Watson from WeRow  in Minneapolis adds that rowing uses about 84% of your muscle mass, incorporating a ” a leg press, a deadlift and an upper body row”, which means you get a great calorie burn while also building strength. Katelyn Woodard from Row & Ride in Hanover, MA also says anyone can row because it’s such a low-impact activity and the class environment creates a team atmosphere that keeps you going.

What Do I Wear?

Spencer and Samantha from Fuse 45 in Michigan recommend sweat-wicking, fitted clothing as looser clothing can get caught under the seat.  In terms of footwear, Katelyn says you don’t need to buy special footwear for rowing, but to avoid hard soled shoes like basketball and tennis shoes as they don’t have enough flexibility for rowing.  Instead, opt for a lightweight running shoe or trainer.

 What Do I Need to Know About Form?

One of weRow’s mantras for beginners is ” Progression, not perfection” because rowing is about technique and form, and it can take awhile to get there!  Katelyn adds that the rowing form can feel unnatural at first, but if you stick with it you’ll begin to develop muscle memory and be all set.

Although it looks like an arm-heavy sport, rowing is all about the legs!  In fact, Molly says it’s about 60% legs, 20% core, and 20% arms.  Tish says “You must practice the movements of driving the legs back first while at the catch (starting) position, inclining the core to a 45 degree angle, and then using your arms to draw the handle into your chest.  To return to the catch, your arms extend out first, then you hinge at your hips allowing your core to incline forward towards your legs, and then your knees (legs) pop back up bringing you back to the catch.”

What Should Beginners Keep In Mind?

While the form tips are super important, because there’s a bit of a learning curve, there are a few things that can make rowing easier for a beginner. Sam and Spencer say that there’s a tendency for beginners to pull the bar quickly using their arms, which is inefficient and prevents a full range of motion.  Instead, they say “a slower, more controlled and stronger pull will make you travel faster”.  Additionally, focusing on a powerful push and long stride with your legs will help you to generate more power.

What Is A Class Like?

Fuse 45 (Michigan): Expect a high-intensity workout!  The Concept 2 Rowers used in class also allow you to track your performance, keeping you motivated.  The signature Fuse 45 Workout puts you through cardio and strength circuits for a complete, killer workout, while other classes like Cycle and Strength Cycle also provide a high-energy and full-body workout.

weRow (Minneapolis): Tish says to expect the unexpected at weRow!  With high intensity intervals and great music, you’ll emerge feeling like you just got your butt kicked (in a good way, of course!). Each class is also designed to have you feel like you’re working on a rowing crew in a motivating and inspiring team environment.

Row and Ride (Hanover, MA): Katelyn emphasizes that a typical rowing class is not boring!  You can expect steady state work, stroke rate ladders and pyramids, sprints,  power strokes and more for a high-energy and calorie-burning workout. Row & Ride also offers classes that pair strength training with rowing, and rowing with spinning.

Crowbar Cardio (Dallas, TX): Molly says rowing classes at Crowbar Cardio involves  doing waves of work followed by periods of stretching/core work/more form review, and then finishing off each class with a fun race.  The entire class has a team atmosphere and is set to killer music.  Ready for something more?  Try Crowbar Cardio’s Triple Threat class, which pairs rowing, spinning and barre for a challenging full-body workout.


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