On Your Health

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Rowing Your Way to Fitness in Oklahoma City

Whether you have steady sea legs or have never stepped foot on a boat, rowing is the latest trend in fitness, and we think this trend is here to stay. Rowing works almost every area in your body, giving you a complete full-body and cardio workout. If spin class isn’t your favorite and you really don’t enjoy running, could rowing be the workout you’ve been waiting for?

Learn more about this fast and fun workout, whether you’ll be sitting pretty on an indoor rowing machine or enjoying the fresh air with an outdoor row at the state-of-the-art OKC Boathouse District.

The Basics of Rowing

Did you know rowing is actually all about the legs? Most people assume rowing is primarily an upper-body workout, but it requires the legs to do the heavy lifting. The legs create power during a rowing stroke, and the explosive action propels the rest of your body to finish the movement. While rowing does work your arms and core, a strong drive with your legs will push you further. After your initial leg movement, you will engage the muscles in your back and core, and then follow through with your arms.

Indoor rowing is perhaps the most common form of the sport, because most people have access to a gym, while rivers and lakes are not as readily available. Called the “ERG” (short for ergometer), a rowing machine may actually give you a tougher workout than rowing outdoors. When rowing on an ERG, you can set specific goals, complete interval training and increase the difficulty of the workout, depending on your goals.

The first step is learning a proper stroke. Remember, the process of rowing is a fluid movement, where each move leads into the next position.

WaterRower offers great instructions to learn the stroke. It has been divided into three steps; each step consists of a position and a phase. To see the steps illustrated in a way that you can follow along, click here.

Rowing Action, Step 1:

  • Position 1 - The Release Position
    The Release position is at the end of the Drive phase. The Release is where active propulsion of the boat ceases and the oar is removed from the water. This is not the end of the stroke but simply the change in direction of the handle.
  • Phase 1 - The Rock Over Phase
    The Rock Over phase begins at The Release position and ends at The Rock Over position. The arms extend and the torso rocks over from the pelvis (not the lower back).

Rowing Action, Step 2:

  • Position 2 - The Rocked Over Position
    The Rocked Over position occurs at the end of the Rock Over phase. The arms are extended and the torso is rocked over adopting the upper body positioning of the catch.
  • Phase 2 - The Recovery Phase
    The Recovery phase begins at The Rocked Over position and ends at The Catch position. No active propulsion takes place at this point. There is no movement of the upper body and torso during The Recovery phase, just the legs. All torso and upper body positions have been set at The Rocked Over position.

Rowing Action, Step 3:

  • Position 3 - The Catch Position
    The Catch position is the position of the body at the end of The Recovery phase and the beginning of The Drive phase. The body is coiled like a spring, ready to release.
  • Phase 3 - The Drive Phase
    The Drive phase is the work phase of the rowing action beginning at The Catch position and ending at The Release position.

To watch their easy instructional video, visit the website.

Rowing for Beginners: Where to Start?

If you’re interested in picking up rowing as a hobby, try visiting your local gym to use an ERG machine. Even better, you could take rowing lessons to master the form and precision that rowing requires. 

The Boathouse District in OKC  has brought new life to rowing and activities on the Oklahoma River. It is the headquarters for the USA Canoe and Kayak Federation and is a U.S Olympic and Paralympic training center. The river has a 4,000-meter training course and a state-of-the-art finish line timing tower.

The Boathouse District also has activities for just about anyone who wants to get on the Oklahoma River. The RIVERSPORT Adventure Center offers many types of classes for rowing newbies. And if you are ready to flex your competitive muscles, RIVERSPORT also offers competitions with teams and leagues for ages 8 to 80. Junior crew, dragon boating, masters canoe/kayak, and the whitewater rafting league are just a few of the coached competitions it offers.

On average, rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes can burn between 200 to 300 calories. Of course, this number will vary depending on your height, weight and other health considerations. As always, consult your doctor before beginning a new activity.

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