Why You Should Be Rowing


This is one boat you don’t want to miss.

I used to think the rower was just that dusty piece of equipment tucked away in the corner of a gym that you’d use for a warm up or cool down and nothing more. The importance of the rower has shifted in recent years. You only have to look at CrossFit or F45 Training to see how much they value the rowing machine and how frequently they implement rowing in their workout routine.

Now there’s even a studio dedicated to rowing and it’s set to be one of the next big fitness trends. CREW Row opened in Sydney’s CBD in September and was inspired by founder Mike Aldridge’s time in New York City, training at boutique fitness studios and his longstanding passion for rowing. Originally a rower at high school, Mike re-aquainted himself with rowing after injuries from a lengthy career in rugby overseas stopped him from participating in high impact exercise. I asked Mike for the rundown (more like rowdown) on why you should be rowing.

It’s engages the full body.

Rowing machines use 80% of the body’s muscles with every stroke. Each stroke is broken up into 60% legs, 20% core and 20% arms. Contrary to popular belief, the power comes from your legs and not your arms. Each stroke should feel like a squat as you drive back and forward through the legs. After a good rowing session, you should definitely feel a deep burn in your quads and butt!

It’s a low impact activity. 

Rowing is low impact which basically means there’s little stress placed on the joints unlike running and other cardio activities. There is no downward force placed on the lower back, knees or angle so you won’t aggravate any pre-existing injuries in your upper or lower body. This makes it a perfect safe and functional workout for everyone regardless of age, fitness level or experience.

You’re completely in control of the speed and intensity of which you row but the key is to maintain the right tempo – a 2:1 count. 2 seconds forward. 1 second back. The recovery (the way forward) shouldn’t be rushed and is a chance to catch your breath before driving the legs back down for another powerful stroke. Sticking to the tempo is crucial for more effective rowing and decreased burn out. When you’re starting out think about breaking down the sequence of movements – legs then core then arms on they way out, arms, core, legs on the way back.

The rower is a combination machine.

Rowing is a full body exercise and keeps your heart rate elevated. The rowing machine combines muscle building resistance and cardiovascular activity making it one of the most effective pieces of fitness equipment. Rowing condition major muscle groups including shoulders, arms, back, core, legs and glutes. The added resistance from the flywheel increases your muscle activation. Unlike an exercise bike, rowing works resistance in both directions, forward and back increasing strength and is more effective for burning calories.

You can do more than just row. 

Once you attend a session at CREW, you’ll learn that there are many more exercises you can do on the rower besides rowing. A session at CREW combines rowing with body weight exercises, flexibility and stability using dumbbells, resistance bands and other equipment. You’ll never be on the rower for too long with fast transitions to the adjacent mat for toning and strengthening exercises.

The moving seat also allows you to utilise the rowing machine like the TRX or the freeform board in the plank position – place your feet on the seat and do knee tucks or pikes in the plank position or if you flip it around and put your arms on the seat, you can do a plank rollout.

Now that you know, go and row.

CREW boutique rowing studio is located at Ground Floor, 15 – 17 Young Street, Sydney. For information on classes and timetables visit crewrow.com.au.

Image by Christine Ai

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