What it is: Indoor rowing, a calorie-burning, low-impact cardio and strength workout.
What’s new: Not rowing. It’s really, really old. In fact, ancient Athenians used rowing machines as part of their military training. And until recently, you could find a dust-covered machine in the corner of just about any gym.
But there’s a rowing revival afoot, fueled by a higher caliber of equipment (some use water flywheels for resistance and a more natural feel and sound), group sessions that put an emphasis on camaraderie and drills that allow you to challenge your endurance and intensity.
Trial run: I showed up at the weRow Fitness Studio in Northeast 15 minutes early to get a lesson in the stroke and I’m glad I did. While the movement is fairly simple (“80 percent legs, 20 percent core, 20 percent arms” is the motto), it took a bit of practice to feel comfortable.
I was still getting the hang of it as the other class members bounded into the tiny gym. They greeted one another with smiles and hugs, and the friendliness didn’t fade after the first sprint. There were high-fives, fist bumps and lots of “You go, girl!”s throughout the 45-minute session.
Whom it’s for: “Everybody can row,” said weRow owner and head trainer Tish Watson. “You can be 12 or 90. It doesn’t matter what kind of physical shape you’re in. It’s one of only a few total-body exercises that has no impact on your joints.”
The class I tried was filled with marathoners, former marathoners, a dragon boat paddler, a 67-year-old canoeist and several twenty- and thirty-somethings who hadn’t been off the couch until they tried rowing and found it “addicting.”
Who it’s not for: If you prefer a solitary workout, team rowing may not be for you.
Do: Pay attention. There’s a bit of lingo with rowing (catch, drive, etc.).
Don’t: Go full out. Take the time to master the stroke first.
Cost: $18 per class. There are five free introductory classes as well as multi-class packages and special discounts. WeRow Fitness Studio, 34 13th Av. NE., Suite 110, Mpls. werowmsp.com.
Would I do it again? You bet. I thought I would get bored silly by the repetitive motion, but like spinning, there are intervals, sprints and relays that change it up and keep it fun. I also liked that while I was part of an encouraging group, I was competing only with myself, pushing and pulling at my own level. Plus, it’s efficient. As Watson said, “It’s a one-and-done workout.”