Getting started with rowing

I returned the really expensive mountain bike a few weeks ago. It was too small and I also don’t need a super duper high end mountain bike. I don’t need to go any faster than I already go. In the meantime the ground is covered in snow and riding a bike out of doors is not happening as much.

This creates a lack of aerobic exercising which leads to a grumpy Roger. No one wants a grumpy Roger, especially me. At first we considered getting an indoor bike trainer setup. One consideration was to get a trainer that we could attach our road bikes to and ride inside. Another was to buy a spin class style trainer.

While I was researching all of this I was also reminded that indoor rowing is a great aerobic exercise. A few years ago I got into the CrossFit thing as a good friend owns a gym here. CrossFit uses indoor rowing as an anaerobic workout or for warming up. I enjoyed using the rower, the rhythmic movement is similar to how pedaling a bike becomes a rhythm, and there is no impact.

So I started researching indoor rowing machines and quickly identified 2 main types: air resistance and water resistance. The most famous air resistance is the RowErg® by Concept 2. You will see these in most gyms, they started making machines in 1981, and are used by elite athletes for training. There are a variety of water rowers on the market. The advantage of a water rower is that they are less noisy.

My goal with the rower is training and the RowErg is very reasonably priced compared to all types of brands I reviewed. I asked my Crossfit gym owner friend for advice and she highly recommended the RowErg. So the purchase was made.

We took delivery on Christmas Eve and I have used it all but one day so far. We agreed to set it up in the guest bedroom in the basement. This gave it a dedicated space so that it is always ready to be used. We can also close the door to avoid bothering anyone else in the house.

With the location determined now we need to start rowing. Apple Fitness+ offers rowing classes so we started using those. They are good workouts but a little short and more focused on keeping a high stroke rate of 26 to 30 strokes per minute. One of my goals in 2022 will be to row a marathon or 42194 meters. Training for that will require slowing down and rowing for much longer.

Concept2, who makes the RowErg, have an extensive training section on their website. Part of this is a Workout of the Day (WOD) which emails you each morning 3 workout options for the day: short, medium, and long. So far I have done 2 of the long workouts and they have kicked my butt. The first was 2 sets of 6000 meters and the second was 3 sets of 4000 meters.

Concept2 also has an online log book that you can manually enter or use their mobile app to do so. The app connects wirelessly to your rower to collect workout data which you can then quickly sync to the cloud. This helps them keep the cost of the rower significantly lower. Once you upload the data you can then see what other Concept2 users are doing from the Rankings tab of the log book.

Concept2 goes even further with this and has Challenges throughout the year to keep you motivated and even connect with other rowers. There are also teams and races depending on how involved you want to get. For now I am using this as a training tool especially while there is snow on the ground.

As with any new toy I am tempted to use it all the time right now. However this is a great way to burnout and even get injured. I am giving myself some time to get used to rowing without getting too crazy. I will continue to take it fairly easy and use it as a way to prepare for rowing our raft on the Usumacinta.

Once we get back from the trip I plan to start training for a Marathon effort sometime in April or May. That should give me enough time to get used to spending long periods of time on the rower.


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