Taking an indoor rowing workout class or online rowing classes at home is the perfect way to get low-impact, high intensity exercise. When I tell people that I row, the first thing they say is, “Wow, you must have really strong arms.” That’s a common misconception about rowing. It’s actually a full body workout where 60% of the work comes from your lower body, 20% back/core and the last 20% of the stroke comes from your arms.
The calorie burn from an indoor rower is anywhere from 300-800 calories per hour based on your size and pace. While almost everyone has access to a rowing machine (called an erg) at their gym or home, there are rowing classes in every city. Orange Theory and Crossfit are popular workouts that use rowing in their high intensity training workout (HIIT). There’s also Row House, which has rowing classes similar to spinning classes, in 250 locations around the United States and Canada.
Since this is primarily a travel blog, I love sharing that once you learn to row, you can go on rowing trips. Tour rowing is like a biking vacation where you start at one point and row for multiple days to another point. There are also rowing trips that concentrate on one or two cities with a rowing workout every morning.
Indoor Rowing Workout Classes
I took a class that uses water rowers simulating the feel of rowing on the water. Orange Theory also uses water rowing machines. Other the other hand, Row House uses the Concept2 indoor rowers that you will also find in the gym. The Concept2 rowing machine is preferred by most people that row competitively.
The class was set up with everyone facing a mirror in a line. It’s fun to keep in time with everyone as they row along side of you. In real life, on the water, you are keeping time with the people rowing in front of you so it’s great practice. Starting with drills, we got the mechanics right and muscles warmed up. First arms away, then arms and bodies over, then a full stroke moving down the slide.
We pushed hard for periods with a higher stroke rate followed by recovery periods bringing the strokes per minute down. My heart rate was soaring but there was no way I was going to stop or slow down if everyone could see me in the mirror. Talk about some positive peer pressure. The music was high during the full intensity moments, which made it fun and exhausting at the same time time. Towards the end, each side of the room races each other and it is a fun way to get that last cardio push.
What I Love about an Indoor Rowing Workout Class
- Burning a massive amount of calories while increasing my endurance was great. I KNOW I got a great workout because I was dead at the end of 60 minutes. To be honest, I felt like one of those people on The Biggest Loser that throw up after their workout. It was really challenging.
- The team aspect of the class and the loud music made it so much fun. It was also effective in pushing me further than I would have done on my own in the gym or at home.
- Technique was top of mind for the whole workout because I could see what I was doing and kept trying to improve with each stroke.
- The muscles I used are definitely the ones I want to sculpt – basically upper arms, abs and legs.
Buying a Rowing Machine for Home
I don’t personally have a rowing machine at home so I am giving these recommendations based on my experience at the gym or friends that have them.
- A lot of my friends that row, have a Concept2 Rower Model D. You can buy them new and used. Check the price on the Concept2 website before you buy so you know you are paying what you should. Concept2 is the industry standard in rowing.
- The other rower I have experience with is a water rower like the ones you see in the photos. I really like the feel and the fact that they are quieter than the Concept2. They’re also like a piece of beautiful, functional rowing art.
- Hydrow is like Peleton of rowers. You can row all over the world or take rowing classes. The Nordic Track RW Rower is a similar type of experience.
- Sunny Health Rowing Machine is a lower priced rowing machine that has thousands of great reviews on Amazon. If you opt for a low price rowing machine, just read the reviews and make sure others are happy with the machine.
How to Find Online Rowing Classes
If you are doing your workout at home, you have multiple options for online rowing classes.
- Dark Horse Rowing has beginner to advanced rowing workout videos teaching your proper form, how to breathe, how to improve your 500 meters, 2K time, and so much more. Whether you are looking for a rowing machine beginner workout, a rowing cardio workout or are a competitive rower, there’s a video for you.
- British Rowing has a bunch of online indoor rowing workouts. In addition, they have strength and mobility workouts and videos that will help you with form. Using proper form is so important in rowing to avoid injury.
Rowing is an incredible low impact, very high intensity, total body workout that builds strength and torches calories. There are studios with indoor rowing workouts in most major cosmopolitan areas. Find one with good lighting, great equipment and teachers that know what they’re doing. Jake Kaye, our teacher, rowed for the UCLA varsity team in college and coaches high school rowing.
Almost everyone has access to a rowing machine at the gym. You can also take online rowing classes or download an indoor rowing workout to do on your own. You can use the skills and endurance you build and learn to row on the water. It will open up a world of opportunity including the option of taking bucket list rowing trips.