Monday, June 06, 2011

Learning to Row

This past Saturday Austin Rowing Club hosted a Free Rowing Day on National Learn to Row Day. I happened to hear about it the day before and hopped on making reservations. There were only three left, and I snatched them up for Brando, Justinbustin, and I. Saturday came about and we decided to bring a friend of Justinbustin's, as someone needed to watch Shawners on the shore and Brando volunteered since he wasn't as into it as I always am about new things.
Going into it I had no idea what was involved in rowing. I knew I love kayaking, and I knew it had to do with the teams of rowers on the water, that I had also heard called sculling. Sculling brought to mind the frat movie, The Skulls, which has nothing to do with sculling, but nonetheless those are the thoughts I had in my mind about rowing.

On Saturday I learned a whole other story about rowing. We arrived a few minutes after two for our reservation at two, which turned out just fine as we ended up waiting about forty-five minutes on their shade covered porch for our turn among the many (but not as many as I'd thought, thank goodness) that showed up.

They had it well organized, and were taking people in fours to pre-train them, then, put them with a team of eight. Finally, it was time for our turn. The girl who did our pre-training was so cute - she was nervous about showing us the basics as it was her first time showing someone. I said definitely use us as guinea pigs instead of relying on the girl next to her, and she did awesome! She worried too much that she was covering too many terms and aspects, but actually I really enjoyed hearing all the terms involved and becoming a tiny bit familiar with them before actually having to hear them and follow through on the water.

I asked her how long she'd been rowing and she said fourteen months, and she loves it. I asked her if she did any other exercise (since she was pretty damn fit - see below!) and she said no way, she does this 10-14 hours a week, and on top of being a college student, doesn't have time to do anything else. At this point, though I was soon to find out, I still had no idea that rowing worked more than your shoulders and arms, so I asked her, and she said it's a full body workout.

 Time to get in the boat!
Getting in the boat was an adventure all it's own. See those white lines? Each person steps on it with their left foot at the same time, then gets in the boat at the same time. The team leader sits at the front with a mic and directs the team in working together and steering.

 You put your feet in these shoes (although mine were a bit broken, they still worked), and bring your knees up to your chest, holding the oar in front with your arms straight. Now to why it's a full body workout -  you only have one oar that you hold on to with both hands, when you row you push back first with your legs, then your back, then pull your arms in. Each person has an alternate side that their row is on and you're assigned whatever number your position is. The guy at the front keeps everybody working together by calling out numbers to do steer different directions or go backwards, and keeps everybody in check.
This guy rode alongside us in his boat for our lesson and was our instructor, teaching us how to row in pairs. Mid-session the wheel came off the track of the guy's seat in front of me, and so, since he and I were working together as a pair, we both rowed with just our backs and arms after that.

This is my concentrating face - the whole process was much more involved than I had thought. I had thought they would throw us on the water and we'd go from there. Not so. We were instructed the entire time. You can see Justinbustin behind me, and it was a good thing, because he kept me on track. Somehow I forgot my number was five, so when the guy at the front would say, "Five, do this!" Justinbustin would be like, "Mom, that's you! Do this!" He picked it up right away, as he seems to do with every sport, which completely amazes me.
Four Seasons hotel

 The force of the water when you weren't in rhythm was insane, since you'd be rowing against everyone else. This is the one time I felt it, and also the one time I threw us off using my camera. Oops! We finally all got it towards the end and the perma-smile that I got from how much fun it was when we all got it and were working together pretty much didn't leave my face for an hour afterwards.
 Austin Rowing Club from the water
Love the downtown skyline

I talked to the guy who instructed us from the head of our boat later and he said rowing works 86% of your muscles, which is crazy! He said rowing is great for runners whose knees have given out because it's not weight bearing, and they have a lot of runners who row for just that reason. I asked him about people with back pain and he says it helps for some since it strengthens your core, as long as you are holding your back correctly when you row.

The way it works is you take an intro to rowing class, then, once you're done with that, you pay $35/month to row anytime you want as much as you want. They have competitive teams you can join or recreational teams that go out in the morning or evenings on weekdays and weekends (rarely afternoons as it is so hot). Or, you can take a single out where you have two oars to yourself. Seriously, SUCH a good deal. To work out 86% of your muscles for $35/month in the beauty of nature ANYtime you want sounds amazing to me. I can't wait to go again! You can find more of their free rowing programs, as well as additional information on lessons and joining, here.

Have you posted about your own adventures in May or the first week of June and would like your post featured in Uniquely Your City? Today is the deadline to submit your post!


That Chelsea Girl™ said...

Wow, that looks like it was so much fun! Great photos.

Pink Sun Drops said...

Chelsea - Thanks, girl. Let me know if you try it sometime!

athena said...

ok, i almost signed up for something similiar -- paddling -- when i lived in hawaii. i knew a girl who tried it out and when i saw her a few years later she was gorgeously fit and healthy-looking! since we're on the coast i'm sure i could find a rowing or paddling club here. i probably wouldn't need to go to the gym. ;) p.s. so cute you did this with your son!

L said...

This is great! and something I've been wanting to try for a long time. The nearby university rowing teams are always out racing on the Potomac. Now that I know it works that many muscles, I'm even more motivated to try it!

Colleen said...

How fun! I have always wanted to try this but never have. It has been on my Austin to-do list for a while. I will definitely have to check it out... maybe in the fall when it is a little cooler.

Sonya said...

I never knew there was so much involved with rowing. Amazing!


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