been there, tried that: this is what happened when we tried a rowing workout

obviously, when you create products for the health + fitness space, you gotta be up-to-date on the latest + greatest in all things wellness. and we welcome the challenge! after all, who better to be the guinea pigs, trying out all the newest health foods + exercise crazes in order to bring you the very best?? which is why when we got wind of the popular new rowing workout, we jumped at the chance to put it to the test. check out what happened when our blog editor + resident foodie katy tackled the rowers at her local atlanta studio, total row, on assignment for our new column been there, tried that.

i entered the studio bright + early - 10 minutes early, to be exact. i had lots of questions, so i wanted to make sure i got ‘em all in before saddling up and potentially making a huge fool of myself on the rower. luckily, this studio is smaller, so it immediately felt much more quaint and i knew this meant there would be fewer eyes in the room with which to judge my lackluster rowing skills. score. smaller studios are my favorite because that always means i’ll get more one-on-one help improving my often off-kilter form, which is key.

everything was super clean and airy. a dry erase board filled with exercises + shelves lined with kettlebells and weighted slam balls tipped me off that we’d be doing more than just rowing, which made me happy because i’ve really been trying to incorporate more weights into my routine. something told me i was going to be a sweaty beast by the time this class was over. perhaps the small fridge by the front desk boasting cool, lavender-scented towels for a little post-workout refresh was my first clue.

i picked out two pairs of kettlebells - 10s + 5s (hey, some of those exercises on the dry erase board were a little hairy) and a 10-pound slam ball and brought them over to my rower. it was a water rower, which is supposed to be much closer to the real thing than the typical air rowers i’d seen at the gym. the water is the resistance. i sat down and settled in for a 45-minute class the instructor billed as a low-impact HIIT workout - perfect for a girl like me whose affinity for intense workouts combined with a 17-year-old knee injury aren’t exactly a match made in heaven.

we started out with a little rowing warm-up set to music, to learn the technique and get a feel for the machine. it took me a few minutes, but i finally got the hang of the form (thanks to that aforementioned one-on-one instruction), and i loved how simple it was. no buttons to push to up resistance or intensity - just a simple timer. by the end of the warm-up, i was already a sweaty little betty, feeling as though i’d already worked out my entire body before i’d even laid a hand on my kettlebells. oh that’s right, i had. we jumped right back into a couple timed rowing intervals. i may or may not have been schvitzing all over the place by that point, but honestly, i was having so much fun that i didn’t even care. the time passed so quickly, which is a key component of any workout for moi.

we dismounted our rowers and shifted gears to strength exercises, taking care of those last few muscles we hadn’t targeted yet. i’m gonna be honest: i work out pretty much every day - often doing relatively intense HIIT programs like p90x or 21-day fix - and i had a few moments during this phase of the class where i was relatively certain i was going to vomit all over my slam ball. we're talkin' moves like burpees + squats + curls, one right after another. luckily, i held it together.

we ended class with a race back on the rowers. i’m not proud to report that i came in last, but in my defense, my classmates had much longer legs. regardless, not to sound corny, but that moment i took my last row, i already felt like i had won. i left the studio chugging water, feeling that unparallelled high you only get when you know you’ve really worked your tail off.

my conclusion: i highly recommend you run - not walk - to your closest rowing studio and give it a go. it’s a low-impact, full-body strength + cardio exercise that works 84% of your body (nine of the 11 muscle groups) and has the potential to burn up to 900 calories per hour. even people recovering from injuries can partake! tough to beat those stats.  

have you tried a rowing class? how’d you like it? what other classes would you like to see us try? let us know in the comments! 

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