Putting the fun into indoor rowing
The indoor rowing machine is considered a necessity, but perhaps not a pleasure, by many on-the-water rowers. So adding ‘fun’ and ‘indoor rowing’ into the same sentence may be greeted with a wry smile.
Explanations for a rower’s sense of anxiousness to the ergometer range from the psychological (negative associations with testing and team selection pressures) to the biomechanical (higher peak handle forces and less feel than the boat). This makes it is easy to forget that the ergometer can also be fun.
With a rise in non-standard indoor rowing races at major indoor regattas (for example varying the distance from 2000m and creating relay races), having fun while racing on the indoor rower is easier than ever. Some indoor rowing events have also been built around everything but the 2k race.
The dreaded 2k still reigns supreme, but the relay event, with its fast paced switch-overs and elements of tactics and team strategy, is just one alternative format growing in popularity. At the upcoming World Games, indoor rowing makes its debut and includes a 4x500m relay as well as 500m races and, of course, the 2k. The World Games takes place 26-27 July, 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland. More information.
Capturing that sense of fun is something at the heart of a new book about indoor rowing. The brainchild of three long-time rowing enthusiasts turned ergometer-evangelists in Tempe, Arizona (USA), this new publication is somewhat hopefully titled, The Erg Book: 375+ of the Greatest Indoor Rowing Workouts of All Time.
The boldness of the title is explained in part that it is a book conceived primarily by coxswains. Two of the authors, who go only by their social media pseudonym “The Short and Snarky Coxswains” and the third, Tempe junior crew head coach Peter Cannia, talked with World Rowing about the book and their mission to make erging fun.
“We thought if we made it fun, it would help out a lot of people,” says one of the coxswains. “People like us who don’t want to take the time to create all these workouts.”
Rating the workouts on a scale of toughness, the pieces and time requirements are clearly indicated and how each fits into the physiology of training is explained in simple terms.
“We tried to give it more of a human aspect and make it broad to include all levels of rowers plus CrossFit and other people who erg,” she says. “Our sport is very technical; we put things on a normal-person level so anybody can digest it.”
“We took a page out of CrossFit,” Cannia adds. “Each one of our workouts has a specific name to it. It gives people a different way of referencing the workouts. There is also a humorous aspect to it.”
The possibilities for fun and engaging workouts and competitions may not always be apparent, but there are certainly many more discoveries ahead as indoor rowing continues to evolve and grow as a unique discipline within the greater sport of rowing.