Photo by Shelby Lum

Rowing Ahead of the Curve

Your bike from all those spin-class sweat-sessions may be in danger – no longer the darling of the fitness world, cycling classes are being replaced in cities across the country with another sit-down form of exercise: rowing.

Once the least popular cardio machine in the gym, indoor rowers are experiencing a revival as many gym-goers are opting to row their way to weight-loss rather than running or biking. Studios entirely dedicated to indoor rowing are popping up in cities like Philadelphia, Austin, Atlanta and New York.

275A0123Ryan McFadyen, owner of Ohio Strength in Italian Village, credits rowing’s recent popularity to CrossFit, which regularly incorporates it into workouts. “CrossFit has experienced tremendous growth,” he said, “which has led to a significant increase in exposure to rowing.”

Orangetheory Fitness also uses it during classes as participants rotate between treadmills, strength exercises and rowing. Sarah San Pedro, owner of Orangetheory in Dublin, said the rowers are great for power training, focusing on quick muscle contractions and speed.

“The low- to no-impact aspect of indoor rowing is great for a wide variety of fitness levels and body types,” San Pedro said. The equipment has also gotten an upgrade. At Orangetheory, you won’t find the old catch-and-chain model you may remember from high school gym class. The “WaterRower” uses water and a wheel to mimic the resistance found in traditional rowing.

Even though you are sitting down, you can still get an extremely effective, total body workout. What makes it so great? “Basically because it targets your entire body in a short amount of time,” McFadyen said.

The pushing and pulling motion activates nearly every stabilizing muscle group of the legs, core and275A0335-BW upper body, including the calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, biceps and shoulders. It also forces your core muscles to remain engaged throughout the motion.

Rowing is safe for most people, even beginners. McFadyen said it’s suitable for any age or experience level.  “It is much lower impact than activities like running.”

“The most inspiring story is a client in our studio that has no use of her legs and is restricted to a wheelchair,” San Pedro said. “She straps in and is able to row focusing on upper body and core.”

However, rowing might not be a good option for those with lower back problems.

“Rowing involves a lot of repetitive motion so overuse injuries are possible,” McFadyen said. He recommends checking with your doctor before giving it a try.

If you’re interested in rowing, check out Orangetheory Fitness in Dublin ( or one of the area’s many CrossFit gyms including Ohio Strength. You can also look for local rowing clubs by going to

Buying an Indoor Rower for Your Home

If you’re looking to get fit in the comfort of your home, an indoor rower might be a great option said Dan Gronkowski, president of marketing at The Fitness Store.

He said rowers don’t require much space, but offer affordable prices and good workout results.

275A0180Gronkowski said you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,500 on an indoor rower, but the average cost is about $1,000. Models vary in price based on quality and features.

If you’re looking to add a rower to your home gym, they can be found at The Fitness Store, Dick’s Sporting Goods, MC Sports, Sports Authority and various online retailers.