“The row machine is unlike any other piece of fitness equipment,” says Mulgrew. “It requires you to use 83 percent of your muscles and you get both a cardio and strength training workout in one.”
“If you sit at a desk all day, exercises like running or biking are sort of the same actions,” says Mulgrew. “Running involves hip and knee flexion and biking recreates that rounded spine. Each stroke on the row machine extends the legs and opens the chest. It counteracts those day-to-day actions.”
“Rowing is more challenging than most other exercises,” says Mulgrew. “It’s something that people aren’t used to. Most people don’t grow up rowing, as opposed to sports like running and biking. You’re required to do more and it requires more attention and more focus.”
Mulgew says that rowing is one of the most efficient and most effective ways to work out. That's because the faster that you row, the higher your heart rate will rise. “Compared to other group exercise classes, you’ll get a great workout, reap more benefits and burn a lot more calories in less time” says Mulgrew.
Mulgrew mentioned that because rowing activates nearly 83 percent of your body, it's a workout that can help strengthen common areas of weakness like the glutes, hamstrings, core and shoulders.
And because rowing will strengthen nearly all of the muscles in your body, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness, it will help to enhance your performance when participating in other sports like running or cycling. "When you go back to other sports you’ll be stronger and better," says Mulgrew.
Many times we avoid going to the gym or working out simply because we're bored with our routine. Really, who wants to spend 45 minutes on the elliptical every day? The key to maintaining a consistent exercise routine is to make it fun and exciting. Mulgrew mentioned that rowing is a great way to add variety to your workouts because it's probably not like most of the exercises you already perform on a regular basis. "It’s different you’re working the body in way that's not routine," she said.
A strong core is important for so many different reasons, and rowing will engage your ab muscles better than almost any other type of exercise. “Your core is engaged right from the start,” says CityRow instructor Shaun 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.”
Like I said earlier, the key to maintaining a consistent exercise routine is to include workouts that are fun and exciting. Just like with any other new experience, you won't know if you really enjoy rowing until you give it a shot. There's a small chance you might hate it (I doubt that, though), but if you end up finding that it's a blast, you'll be one step closer to building an exercise habit that will last for life.
I know you have your doubts about it, but seriously, rowing is a lot of fun. Maybe you think rocking back and forth on the rower seems just as boring as endless treadmill jogging or mindless elliptical workouts, but after one rowing workout I bet you'll think differently. The key is to alternate between 5 to 10 minute bouts of high intensity rowing (think trying to reach a certain distance in a specific amount of time) and a few sets of strength training exercises like dumbbell shoulder presses, squats and planks for about 30 to 50 minutes. Classes at CityRow are set up this way to keep the 50-minute workout exciting and intermittent, that way it's nearly impossible to get bored.