Rowing: A Resurgence in High Quality Fitness

Posted on Posted in Benefits, Fitness, Rowing

Rowing has been around for centuries, yet is now making a comeback in the fitness world. Total Row goes in depth on what is causing this shift.

How does a millenia old exercise make a comeback?

In the fitness world, rowing is the creme de la creme, icing on top of the cake, and the best of so many different worlds. Zero impact, so anyone can do it? Check. Total body workout in one shot? Check. Huge calorie burner? Check. Cardio and HIIT training in one? Check. Complete exercise in every sense of the phrase? CHECK.

While we are fans of many different fitness styles (and partake in many of them ourselves), there is simply no equal to the vast benefits derived from a steady dose of rowing.  As we went through before, it literally checks ALL OF THE BOXES.

So here we come to the crux of this blog post: If rowing is a fantastic, full body workout, that is zero impact, gives me everything I need, and has been around nearly forever; why isn’t everyone doing it? Great Question! Let’s dive in…

Rowing is not what it USED to be (and that’s a good thing)

We see two important characteristics that have previously held rowing back from becoming a mainstream fitness staple such as spinning, Crossfit, or yoga: (1) Equipment quality, and (2) Exposure. Further, these two are critically linked.

Until the beautiful Water Rowers we use came on the market, many rowing machines (or ergs) were old, clunky, and as a smooth as a pine cone. Not only did many rowers hate using them, but the rowing machines that ended up in your local gyms were even worse. They were old, dusty, and worn out.

This led to the second problem – exposure. How can you feature these machines that hadn’t been improved in decades in the middle of a shiny new gym or trendy fitness boutique? Simple – you can’t.

The Renaissance

So how did we get to today, a time when rowing is sweeping across the nation? Wouldn’t you know it, the two problems associated with rowing ended up becoming the solution – but we believe in reverse order. Rowing needed an impetus for change and they found it in a big way – Crossfit.

As Crossfit burst onto the fitness scene over the last decade, it brought rowing along with it. While not featured in every class, and not used nearly as much as we would like to see, it was still a part of many classes, with new rowing machines lining the box’s walls.

As users began to hit the rowing machines regularly, a new respect and admiration for the exercise grew. It does not take long on a rowing machine to feel what it can do. Users began to demand and expect rowing in class, which in turn prompted better machine designs, and helped place numerous rowing machines in nearly every HIIT facility in the country. Rowing became synonymous with cross-training and HIIT, because it is the perfect example of both – total body, intense, effective, and quick. Rowing is a full training plan all by itself.

Rowing could no longer be ignored, and this is when the previously unthinkable began to happen – rowing became a standalone fitness class.

A fitness class like no other

At Total Row, we offer both all-rowing classes, as well as classes that feature brief stints off the rowers. However, you haven’t felt rowing’s immense benefits until you’ve rowed with us for 45 or 30 minutes solid. The best way for me to explain, is to differentiate a rowing class from many other fitness classes. Disclaimer: I’m not trying to put these classes down, but instead, trying to show what rowing has to offer. 

Other fitness concepts

Spin: Spinning is probably considered the most “fun” class on this list. The music is usually loud and raucous, and many classes feature an instructor that may, or may not, dance. However, for every benefit that spin has to offer, rowing has it in spades: Low impact? Yep. Lower body workout? Rowing is 60% lower body, and your legs will be shaking after a great class. Cardio and calorie burn? Oh yeah. Rowing burns 3 calories for every 1 in spinning, and our classes feature a diverse mix of aerobic and anaerobic work. PLUS, Total Row’s classes provide a tremendous core and upper body workout, something you will not find in a spin class (yes I’m counting those weights they give you).

Barre: We like Barre, and feel like it provides a nice compliment to rowing. However, a rowing class will demand significantly more cardio effort on top of the strength training, and therefore a superior calorie burn (up to 900 an hour!).

Crossfit / other interval training: Super intense interval training with really heavy weights is great to get you strong enough to run through a wall, but not a week goes by without a former Crossfitter walks into Total Row after hurting himself one too many times. These types of workouts are great, but not for everyone. Your body can only take so much beating and heavy lifting. When you want a low-impact workout that doesn’t require you to snatch a small house above your head, come find us for a total body strength workout at zero impact.

Circuit training that includes a rower: Now we are getting closer. However, we still find two faults. First, many of the more popular classes require running. One of the greatest benefits of rowing is that you don’t have to run. It requires a more intense cardiovascular effort while still being zero impact, saving your precious knees. Second, rowing almost assuredly offers the highest energy expenditure per unit of time in their classes. The less time you are on the rower, the smaller the benefit.

So what are you waiting for!?!

Ready to take your First Complementary Class? At Total Row, your FIRST WEEK is on us! Take advantage by clicking the link below.

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