Train the Trainer: Rowing

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We are on a mission to try different sports and activities we have never tried before. We will be blogging after each

We tried rowing at Row17 on 17 Ave
We tried rowing at Row17 on 17 Ave

new activity about our thoughts going in, our experience, and the final verdict. Last time we tried aerial yoga, this month we tried rowing at Row17.

What is Different About Rowing?

Rowing uses your entire body to help you move through the water (or in our case – move the rowing ergometers). It uses your legs, core and back with each stroke and also challenges your aerobic fitness. Rowing can burn 2-3x times the calories in an hour compared with spinning. We rowed on indo-row machines which have water in them to provide resistance and it gives you a nice “whoosh” sound – it’s just like being on a lake!

Thoughts Going In:

Lauren: I did a physiology degree in undergrad and most of the time when we talked about rowing/rowers we talked about how high of an intensity they work at during races. Think trying to run at 90-95% of your max – but for much longer than a normal sprint. I think I’m in decent aerobic shape but not stellar by any means. I know that a lot of the rowing stroke is in the legs so I’m expecting a crazy quad burn from each push and I will probably need to be carried out of the studio afterwards.


Kelsey: I did track for eleven years and competed in the 400m and 400m hurdles. I like to think I’ve got decent anaerobic capacity. HOWEVER! I’ve also watched the Dino’s rowing club practice…. They worked their butts off! The look of pain in their eyes should have deterred me from attempting this myself. I think the only thing I have going for me is a lot of lower body strength and decent core control. This is definitely going to be hard but I feel like I can handle it!

Lauren rowingThoughts After the Class:

Lauren: I am sore! My back has never felt second day muscle soreness like that before! The instructor was awesome and started by briefly going over the correct rowing technique. She was a rower herself so we knew we were getting great instruction. Before class she talked to all the newbies and got a sense of our skill level which was awesome! There was a great sense of community in the class as everyone took turns setting the pace and the rest of us had to match that person’s strokes – exactly like a real boat. I was wrong about the quad burn, my glutes and hamstrings were not happy with me after the class and I had to use my core way more than I expected. We happened to sign up on an interval sprints day which made the class just fly by.


Kelsey: Wow! That was amazing! I had so much fun, Danika kicked my butt, but I had so much fun. I knew it was going to be tough but my body was shaking after the warm up! Yes, five minutes in to the 45 minutes workout I was regretting my decision. My glutes were seizing my hands were burning and I was already breathing hard. Despite all of this I loved it! Our instructor was amazing and did a great job of making all the participants feel welcome. She helped us newbies learn the ropes while still keeping it challenging for the veterans. The intervals were intense but manageable. I knew in theory rowing was a leg workout (even though you hear horror stories about arm/shoulder/back pain) but I had no idea just HOW much your legs get worked. Danika did a great job throwing drills in between intervals to make sure we all focused on proper technique.

There was such a sense of community between the 6 participants and trainer. We each took a turn leading the strokes and it was amazing how much easier it was to push yourself when the whole class was rowing as one unit. I was so happy and energized by the end of class. Yes, I was full body shaking from the effort I had just put in but it was well worth it! Once the blisters on my hands heal I will be back! Helpful hint: Danika told me that steeping black tea and putting the tea bag on your blisters will help to heal. Apparently the tannins in the tea help to reabsorb the fluid within the blisters. I tried it and it WORKED! By Sunday the blisters were gone.

Kelsey's hands didn't love the rowing as much as she did.
Kelsey’s hands didn’t love the rowing as much as she did.

Final Verdict:

Lauren: I highly recommend it! I think I went a little hard out of the gate and I would try to pace myself a bit more next time. During some of the races I just picked a spot on the wall to stare at and went as hard as possible. There are some fundamentals classes to teach technique and I would like to do those to make sure that when I am getting fatigued I am still doing the movements correctly so I don’t injure myself. I was a lot more tired afterwards than I thought I would be but I would definitely try to work this type of class into my regular workout routine to give my body a break from the higher impact activities I typically do.


Kelsey: Love love love! I’ve already looked at their schedule to see how I can fit their classes into my weekly activity routine! I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed that you could make it as easy or hard as you needed to by varying your power output (ie. how hard you push with your legs). This non-impact workout is excellent for a multitude of ages and abilities. Not only will I continue with rowing I will definitely recommend it to clients who are looking to step up their activity! I loved the high intensity and the team atmosphere from rowing; it reminded me of track practice.

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