I never understood why someone would elect to participate in the sport of rowing. It always seemed to me that anyone who knowingly entered an activity that required 4 AM, daily, hour-long “warm up runs” before each actual practice had to be insane.
Then when Armie Hammer rowed as both Winklevoss brothers in The Social Network, I can’t say I “got it” but man, did I respect it. This was a sport for giants; for true athletes; for those less concerned with checking off extracurriculars but rather, making it to the Olympics.
So how did I end up sitting with my ass on a simulated row boat last Tuesday?
Now, a fast pause before all members of their respective crew teams begin throwing oars at me: a rowing machine is very different from sitting in a boat, on a freezing body of water, at 5 in the morning after a million mile run. But for someone who hasn’t been on a true workout schedule since age 21 and compares cycling to ripping hot wax off her soul, this was the closest to crew I’ll ever come save for the Boat House drive-bys on my way into Philly.
I found myself on this recently-hyped breed of torture device by way of a fitness-savvy friend who grew tired of me complaining that I needed to drop a few bagels. She suggested City Row. She has abs. I listened.
So there I was, sitting astride a water-powered floor bike (what the shit do you call this thing?!), trying not to puke as a man in track pants repeated LEGS, CORE, ARMS, REPEAT.
The gist was that we’d row for ten, then get on the floor for ten (more legs, core, arms, repeat), then back on the faux boat and then back on the floor. Legs, core, arms, repeat. Legs, core, arms, this sucks. I survived only by taking numerous breaks and left with my head hung low, defeated.
And yet two days after walking like I’d done accidental splits, the competitive side of me decided to try it again. Either my muscles missed the satisfaction that comes from exhaustion or I am a masochist. So back I went, this time determined to row the shit out of my pseudo ship.
And row I did. Encouraged by the girl in front of me who I was determined to beat (there’s no competition but I could see her stats) and the rhythmic thumps of my instructor’s excellent playlist (Swiss Beatz coupled with old school Missy), I ignored my own complaints and went full Team Winklevii. I was rowing the Henley Royal Regatta. I was angry-Ryan-Gosling in a canoe in The Notebook. I was Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, and if you can supply a female pop culture rowing reference I will update this post faster than you can say coxswain.
Here’s a visual of what I probably looked like:
Now I’m hooked. I still walk like I’ve been involved in a skateboarding/bucking bronco mishap after each class and my arms go all wibbly for at least three days, but it’s the first time in a long time that I feel like I’m working out for fitness, not for weight loss, and that is reason enough to throw my oar up in the air like I just don’t care. Chiefly, you know, because I don’t.