Do it All: Indoor Rowing

Ami McMullen

My answer to those who ask which workout is the very best? “Do it all!” Trying several types of activities and fitness classes gives you more diversity in your movement and keeps you from reaching the point of boredom with workouts.

Up next in this series: Indoor Rowing. If you love indoor cycling, get ready for indoor rowing! It’s kind of the new “Spin” and growing in popularity. It’s a fun, challenging workout that will utilize your whole body in an energetic group atmosphere. Here are a few tips for beginners on getting started — basically, tips on how not look like a kook:

Make sure the instructor knows their STUFF!

Educated instructors are imperative to the success of the class (and keeping others injury-free). If I were hiring an instructor to teach an indoor rowing class, I’d require them to have a group fitness certification along with a certificate of completion from a reputable indoor rowing workshop. Check to see if your instructor has completed rowing education training. The two most common courses are offered by IndoRow and Concept2.  

Have the intro talk.

When it’s your first time doing a workout that’s completely new to you, try to show up about 15 minutes early. You’ll have plenty of time to fill out any necessary paperwork and inform the instructor that it’s your first rowing class. Having the instructor give you a run-down of the class format will help you know what to expect so you can amp yourself up. You’ll want to know how long the class will last and how to modify your intensity to get the appropriate challenge for your fitness level.

Take time to set up your rower correctly.

Having the wrong set up for your rower can make your movements uncomfortable or prevent you from using the proper technique. The instructor will help you make the proper adjustments to the footboard, and give you the key technique points that you’ll want to think about while rowing. They will also show you how to operate the rower’s monitor which shows your output, distance, calories burned, etc while you’re rowing. Reading my output on the monitor is my favorite part!  

Ask questions if you’re feeling “off.”

My first rowing class consisted of me feeling significant fatigue very early in the class. A quick question to the instructor was answered with some small corrections to my form. I immediately felt better and was able to continue with less stress on my body. I was still worked, but in a more productive way.

My own personal tip: Use your legs more than you want to and keep going!

When you start something new, you won’t master it or see the results in one class. Usually 3-5 classes will give you a good understanding of the workout and how you should feel. So try it for a few weeks and see how your body responds to the consistency.

Be a beast! Once you’ve got it, then GET AFTER IT! The great thing about rowing in a group fitness environment is the energy in the room. Get pumped, encourage your fellow classmates, and give it your all!


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