A look at indoor and outdoor rowing apps
New rowing apps for indoor rowing are emerging, but despite recent developments on the indoor machines, Rebecca Caroe, the host of RowingChat, says outdoor rowing apps are still open for development.
Four years ago there was growing interest around rowing apps, but at that time fear of water damage to the phone discouraged users from taking them in the boat. Now many of those early rowing apps are not being updated by their developers. But another player has stepped onto the scene. New standalone electronic devices have started using bluetooth, Ant+ and GPS technologies to record data and they can be more robust and reliable in wet environments than mobile phones.
Will this mean a divergence in the rowing app marketplace between phones and rowing electronics? Here are some new and recently improved rowing apps.
Apps for on-water rowing
- Rowing in Motion - advanced data interrogation to understand boat movement and how an athlete can adapt their technique to improve speed. It comes with both high price and high functionality. Using the phone’s accelerometer and GPS, it displays a detailed boat speed acceleration graph. There are two versions - the solo and the more expensive coach version. The developer, Johannes Rudolph, has enabled seamless real-time sharing between apps running on different operating systems so you can use Android and your coach use Apple and they work together. The free version limits session recording time. http://www.rowinginmotion.com/athletes/
- Few in-boat rowing electronics tools integrate with heart rate chest straps, yet many rowing programmes use heart rate as a key training determinant. The NK Speedcoach XL4 and the cheaper Coxmate GPS both do this. The Coxmate is based on an adapted cycling app and includes a route planning tool for your rowing outing using Google Maps to chart a course - handy for head racing down the River Thames or the Head of the Charles. It requires you to upload the course into the app ahead of time and during the row it tells you if you go off course. The need for Ant+ heart rate monitors to work with rowing electronics means an upgrade may be required from your old heart rate chest strap to use these apps.
- Beth Shergalis who brought us the PitchmeterRow app for rigging has done several more rowing apps including Rowing Drills. This uses animations to illustrate as well as a written description. This will be really handy for anyone coaching beginners or needing a quick-recommendation during practice. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rowzone.rowingdrills.
- Selfloops - a group training management tool for real time tracking of group activity. Useful for a crew / squad who all train together. http://www.selfloops.com/
Apps for indoor rowing
- LiveRowing - The app links your Concept2 indoor rowing machine. It provides you with a selection of workouts that it will programme into your Concept2 directly for you. It then records all your data and provides you with personalised feedback. You can share your workouts online or challenge your rival / friend to race each other in real time. It can be used by all rowers from the most casual gym-goer to the elite national squads. The developers continue to update the software with the most recent release in January 2016. http://www.liverowing.com/
- British Rowing has released RowActiv which includes audio coaching sessions. This is a great idea for home training because like a fitness class, you get the instruction instantly and each session is aligned to your specific fitness goals. It was last updated in 2012. http://www.rowactiv.com
- Ergo Calculator - Helps calculate targets for your training. Enter two values from your Distance, Time or Average Split and you can use this App to calculate the third. It will automatically calculate your weight-adjusted scores and your predicted score using Paul's Law based on the Concept2 recommended adjustment formula. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=thomasWilliams.ErgoCalculator
- RP3 Rowing app - has been upgraded to include the option to display a template 'perfect' curve in the background while rowing - giving athletes a force curve to copy. You cannot upload a curve into the Android-only app, only adjust a pre-installed parabola by length, peak force point and height. Athletes quickly change their stroke when following this template which can help coaches align force curves rapidly for a selected crew. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.label305.row_perfect&hl=en
- RowZone - Allows you to take times for up to eight lanes of side-by-side racing crews. This enables instant results analysis as they cross the finish line. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/row-zone/id437190778?mt=8
There are a range of options from home training, beginner rowers through to sports science professional data interrogation. Ultimately any app has to be straightforward for the user and deliver good information for the athlete or coach to be worth using.
Rebecca Caroe is the host of RowingChat the rowing podcast - a monthly ‘coaching clinic’ for rowers and coaches. Listen here: www.rowperfect.co.uk/rowingchat