When was the last time you used the rowing machine at the gym? You know the one -- there's usually two or three of them next to the ellipticals and they often go untouched, or used briefly to belt out a fast and furious few minutes (or play the Fish Game).
While the use of bikes in group fitness has long been popular, we're seeing the rise of the use of rowers in a similar manner. And there's good reason why.
"I have always had a passion for rowing from my time spent rowing at school," Mike Aldridge, ex rugby player and now Head Coach at Crew, told The Huffington Post Australia. Crew is all about harnessing the power of rowing for all over fitness.
"As a trainer I have always had a large rowing machine influence in my clients programs with some amazing results over the years. Rowing works 86 percent of the body's muscles in every stroke. It really elevates the heart rate and is a low impact exercise that does not place stress on the body like running and other activities."
Aldridge visits the U.S each year to observe what they're doing within the health and fitness industry and takes cue from there.
"On my most recent trip I discovered the new cult following that is rowing studios. In New York alone there are over six boutique rowing studios. I tried all the classes and was immediately hooked. The low impact nature of the rower was perfect for my old Rugby injuries, mixed with the high intensity, the atmosphere and the team environment. I had not had a hard session like it in years. I literally had my notepad out on my way back home to Sydney planning out the first boutique rowing studio for Australia."
Aldridge has set out to change people's perception of the rowing machine.
"For many years the rower has been the old dusty machine in the back corner of the gym, that people may have occasionally used for a minute or two max to warm up. People are now starting to realise just how effective the rower can be when used correctly," Aldridge said.
We know what you're thinking. You row for a good two minutes, maybe five if you're fit, and you're buggered. So what does a rowing class involve, and how are you going to get through it alive?
"The most important thing about rowing is maintaining a good tempo. Generally people will jump on a rower and go like a bat out of hell, but you need to ensure you use the stroke forward, which is the recovery, to take a breath and really drive the legs on the way back on the slide.
"With correct form and technique rowing becomes sustainable for long periods of time. Most people think rowing is an upper body workout, but each stroke is actually broken up into 60 percent legs, 20 percent core and 20 percent arms. So each stroke should feel like a squat and within minutes you will get a deep burn in the legs and butt," Aldridge said.
Classes go for 45 minutes, with express 30-minute classes offered at lunchtime, and you can burn between 300 and 400 calories in a half-hour class.
"We always start with a warm up and stretch, as most of our members have been sitting down at a desk for hours on end, so we like to spend time on movement and flexibility. Adjacent to your rower will be your workstation with mat and sweat towel, and we select the correct weights and equipment for you.
"Classes mix in body weight exercises, dumbbells, resistance bands, movement, flexibility and stability. You are never on the rowing machine for too long -- we keep it fast-paced and interesting with quick transitions from the rower to your mat where you will complete toning and strengthening exercises with various equipment. The lights are dimmed, music is cranking and the trainers will motivate you," Aldridge said.
Expect to see a lot more rowing based classes roll out across the country this year.
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