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Running Vs Indoor rowing...

“So you run but have you tried any other cardio? Bike perhaps? Spinning classes? Ah, have you ever tried indoor rowing? Not on the water I mean indoor rowing?” This is how many of my conversations go when I start talking to people about indoor rowing. I actually think someone called it ‘bizarre’ which I found annoying but also bizarre in itself! Whenever anyone wants to start a keep-fit program they mainly turn to running first.

Don’t get me wrong, running is a great cardio exercise and it’s also high impact making it fantastic for improving your bone strength but it also has it’s negatives, such as it can be damaging to your lower body joints such as the knees. If you don’t stretch/self massage with a foam roller you could be heading for a whole lot of pain from those knees and the pesky IT band which is every runners nightmare when it gets tight!

So would it not be an idea to add another form of cardio into the mix? Something that would get your heart rate up but be much gentler on your joints? One where if you find the rhythm you can pretend your rowing to the other side of the world which in itself is the greatest destresser of all time! A piece of equipment that is so misunderstood that it never gets a look in at the gym? Well if you've answered yes to most of the question above indoor rowing could be for you! The indoor rower uses more muscles in a session than running and cycling, it can help promote weight loss when used alongside a healthy eating plan which has all the nutrients your body needs to keep firing on all four cylinders! It tones your muscles and changes your body shape whilst also increasing your aerobic systems and improving your mental health!

Unfortunately most people who want to use these pretty spectacular machines are given bad advice on how to start using them or worse still no advice on technique at all this leads to injury and people just using them as a warm-up tool - which is such a mistake! I had a conversation with a lady this week who told me her fitness instructor had added the rower into her program - only 10 minutes though and yes they’d included a high intensity session but I bet they hadn’t checked out her technique properly, so this could be an injury waiting to happen as with sessions that warrant speed comes the need for good technique, this is to decrease any risk of lower back injuries. With my clients we start off slow and look at stroke rates, the pace of the session will settle down and become much more consistent when they have got a grasp of the stroke rates and how to control them. I really enjoy the look on the clients faces after 2-3 sessions when all my instructions suddenly become clear and their movement on the rower becomes kind of rhythmic, its great to watch!

So you see there are other cardio exercises to do instead of running that will seize your interest and let you do different sessions to improve all the energy systems whether it be distance rows, high intensity or just a smooth paddle along an imaginary river. Hop onto the rower when your next in the gym and have a go! Better still get in contact with me and have a few technique lessons to start you off. You will find there is so much more to the machine and the rowing stroke than you’d have first thought and if you get the rowing bug you could find yourself competing in a 2km race in no time!

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