You’ve probably noticed a rowing machine collecting dust in the corner of your gym—and flirted with the idea of trying it. But on second glance at the Ergometer—or “The Erg,” as rowers call it—you probably dismissed the steel slide and pull-chain handle, and instead defaulted to the treadmill. Why? Because it just seems easier to go with what you know.
By bypassing the rowing machine, however, you’re missing out one of the best opportunities you have to torch fat and burn calories in a shortest amount of time. Not only can rowing kill up to 600 calories in a single one-hour session, but it’s far gentler on your joints than running or other high impact sports. And because it has one of the lowest perceived rates of exertion, you’re hardly feel like you’re doing a full body workout (so you’re more likely to stick with it).
To help gym-goers get the maximum benefits out of their rowing workout—whether its their first one or their 50th—Equinox teamed up with Josh Crosby, former world champion rower, and Jay Blahnik, award-winning fitness trainer, to build ShockWave, a rowing workout designed on team-based circuit training. For a sneak peak at what you’re in for with ShockWave, check out this video (more details about the classes below).
Inside the Rowing Workout
ShockWave is not your ordinary teacher-student fitness class. The “coaches” incorporate intensity and camaraderie in the 30-45 minute workout by teaming up the attendees, aka “athletes.”
Once you’ve warmed up, you hit four stations: three strength stations (for legs, core and upper body) and one rowing station. ShockWave doesn’t rely on a timer to signal a station-change. Instead, all rowers at the rowing station must row the designated distance on their Ergs before anyone else in the class can rotate to the next spot.
“Since ShockWave’s circuit timing is designed around how quickly each team can finish the rowing distance,” says Blahnik, “there is friendly pressure to do your best, help out your teammates and not let down the other teams who are working hard at their stations waiting for the rowers to complete their distance.”
Each ShockWave class demands four circuits for completion. Rowing distances vary from 100 meters to 500 m. Coaches provide simple tips for each rower that allow rowers to learn quickly and easily in small doses. Exterior lifting stations change every few workouts keeping your muscles guessing, with the same permanent rowing foundation. “The end result is the perfect balance of strength, cardio and teamwork that enables you to work harder than you ever expected to,” said Blahnik. “Plus, you learn to row, and incorporate rowing into your regular workouts in friendly, non-intimidating settings.”
So, what’s stopping you? Grab a gym towel, wipe the dust off the seat, and get on it. We tapped into Crosby’s world champ expertise asking his secrets for first-timers looking to hop on an Erg. He gave us the run down. You only need to know three things: order, power, and timing.
Find out three things every beginner should know when starting a rowing workout routine.
Tips for First Time Rowers
1. Order of the Stroke Movement: Push your legs first, sending your butt backward on the slide. Then, hinge your core backward, bending the body 10-20 degrees. Use your arms to pull the handle to your chest. Reverse the movement to return.
2. Appropriate Power Distribution: Your legs should provide about 60% of the power, the core about 20% and the arms about 20%. The key is engaging your quads to drive your body backward more forcefully than you could pull with your arms.
3. Timing Your Slide: Take one count to drive back and two counts to come forward. This gives you a quick recovery with each stroke that promotes stamina and builds more power.
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