Row Your Boat

Gently down the stream so that you can still walk tomorrow


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.

Image via Vogue Germany

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  • LaRaeRae

    Teach me your secrets!! I love working out in general but if I spend even a minute on the rowing machine it feels like I’ve been there for an hour.

  • Rebecca

    Oh wow, this made me want to try out rowing! Well, the one you do, not the actual sport because I don’t think I could actually go through with it! And the video was so good (and the Harvard guys so cute), I feel motivated actually!

  • Isabelle

    Hi everybody! I have a question: Can I add this C in a circle for “Copyright” to my blog too or do I have to register it as a Trademark or pay for something? It´s a bit confusing… Would be great if someone of the MR-Team could respond 😉

  • kaytlovesshoes

    I’m pretty sure it’s called an erg. Which kind of sounds like it should be some kind of torture device. Good job naming gods, you nailed it.

  • You have officially convinced me that I must try cityrow!

  • Alejandro Maza

    Im in love with everything, good content!

    Alex Maza

    twitter: alex_manifesto instagram:alex_manifesto

  • So many interesting workout hybrids to try lately!

  • mckenzie.collins

    It feels so much better to focus on fitness over weight loss! You feel happier, healthier and overall in a better mood, I reckon! Anyway, it seems life always works out like that for me – I end up doing the last thing I thought I’d be doing! Awesome to find out you enjoy it though!

  • mywhiteT

    Gorgeous photo, Love the color and the theme of the photo,

  • Ranim

    I have posture problems–an incorrigible stooper and slumper, I fear one day I’ll turn into one of those old women with that big old bum on their back. Back when I used to exercise and had a personal trainer (hmmm…I should start exercising again shouldn’t I), she recommended the rowing machine for cardio. It keeps you straight, pumps your shoulders and chest, as well as working out your core, all things you need to encourage good posture.

  • Gene

    An electrolyte replacing hydrator in your water while you work out and having a snack with lots of protein (or an icky protein shake) within an hour of this grueling workout might help with the soreness.