The juice bars at gyms and exercise studios all across the country are buzzing, and the word in between sips of protein smoothie is that rowing workouts are all the rage right now. In fact, some fitness influencers are even going as far as to say that rowing is the new spinning.
Did you hear that Soul Cycle? There’s a new boutique fitness trend in town and its speedy upswing isn’t at all unwarranted.
“85 percent of your body is activated while rowing,” says Shaun Jenkins, an instructor at the CityRow rowing studio in New York City. “It’s a total body experience.”
From fitness fanatics to everyday exercisers, everyone loves a workout that not only offers a big burn in a short amount of time, but that’s also engaging and exciting; something that differs from the regular gym grind that consists of running on the treadmill, lifting weights or, dare I even say it, spinning.
Which is why it doesn’t get much more exciting than an opportunity to invest 50 minutes in a session like the classes offered at a studio like CityRow. They alternate between cardio-based rowing and muscle-building strength training exercises for a low-impact, high intensity workout that combines the best of both workout worlds.
“If you’re looking for something that’s new, different, fun and that has the ultimate balance of cardio and strength this is what you’re looking for,” CityRow founder Helaine Knapp told me.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you to add rowing to your regular workout routine, here are four more reasons to give this new fitness fad exercise that has actually been around for ages a try.
1. More Core
Hardly any other cardio workout in existence will engage your core better than rowing can. “Your core is engaged right from the start,” says Jenkins. “The moment you align your spine your core has to activate. So sitting from the starting position, extending your legs, pulling all the way back to the 45-degree angle— your core is activated the entire time.”
Related: How to Get Flat Abs
2. Anyone Can Row
“Because it’s low impact, it can just appeal to more people,” says Knapp. “Someone that’s recovering from an injury or someone who just had a baby… Even my grandma can do it.” Jenkins went on to add that rowing can be a safe workout for exercisers with injuries ranging from lower back issues and herniated discs to carpal tunnel and knee pain. “They come in, have a phenomenal and safe workout and they leave tired sweating and safely walking back home,” he said.
3. Fun and Fast
Correct me if this isn’t true: we all want to reap the benefits of exercise and maintain our fitness but wish exercising didn’t feel like such a long and arduous chore sometimes. Or is that just me?
Anyway, 50-minutes might sound like a long time for working out, but I can truthfully say that every class I took at CityRow was so much fun—and therefore went by so fast—that I was genuinely surprised when the instructor slowed down the music and took us through the cool-down; every single time. 50 minutes felt like five, but I was tired and sweaty in the best way possible after every session.
If you don’t have access to a studio that offers rowing workouts just yet, try incorporating the rower at your gym (or at home if you have one) into your exercise routine by creating 40 to 50 minute workouts that alternate between 5 to 10 minutes of rowing and 5 to 10 minutes of strength exercises like lunges, squats and dumbbell bicep curls.
4. Total Body Takeover
I’ll just take this opportunity to repeat one of the best benefits of this excellent form of exercise: 85 percent of your body is activated while rowing. While you’re working out on this machine you’re using your core, your arms and a whole lot of leg too. Like Jenkins said, it’s a total body experience that can’t really compare to single-plane exercises like spinning or running. Not to mention, it combines cardio and strength training for the ultimate muscle-building calorie burn. “Most people walk out of here and are like, ‘That was amazing. I can’t wait to come back… I’m gonna be so sore!’” said Knapp.
By Katie Rosenbrock / The Active Times