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Indoor Rowing

Over the years I've tried several exercise regimens with varying results.

  • Running - Great while it lasted but my knees went bust in my late 20's.
  • Cycling - At one time I rode 22 miles a day to work and back. Other than running Cross Country in High School, this was best shape I have ever been in. Riding in traffic is risky however. As I got older, I lost my nerve.
  • Indoor Cycling - In theory this should be as effective but I found it required much more discipline than I could muster. Frankly, it's mind numbing - for me at least.
  • Calisthenics and Strength Training - Very effective. Several years ago I herniated a disk in my back that required surgery. The old-school routine of rhythmical movements with and without weights proved effective. It requires discipline, but is effective (and humbling).

And now to indoor rowing. Earlier this year, my kids started High School. One day they announced they wanted to join Crew (Competitive Rowing). I wasn't even aware the school had such a sport (a club sport in this case). My wife and I require that our kids participate in some kind of regular exercise program. We're not particular as long as it's regular and aerobic.

It wasn't long before I noticed our kids were, "toning-up". It became clear over time that they were, "serious" about improving their performance, so we bought a rowing machine (often called an Erg).

If you research rowing machines, you quickly discover that there is a preferred choice - A Concept 2 Model D.

concept2-model-d.jpg

This is the same machine that clubs and competitive teams use.

Since my kids were getting such great results, I thought I would give it try. Within a week I was hooked.

This is clearly the best exercise I have ever experienced. I'm currently rowing 40K per week and as I improve I suspect that number will be 50K or higher. That's 30 miles a week. I never imagined doing something like this at my senior-discount qualifying age (thanks for regularly reminding of this AARP).

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It's definitely a workout, but not nearly as hard as it sounds. As I'm fond of telling others, I do nothing, "Heroic" when I exercise. I exercise with duty and purpose but not intensity.

For reasons I don't fully understand, rowing is meditative in a way I've not experienced with any other form of exercise. Perhaps it's the rocking motion. I can say I don't, "Dread", my morning routine like before.

What surprises me the most is how effective the workouts are. Core strength has improved and my sciatic nerve pain (a back related nerve pain in the buttocks and leg) has been reduced by 90%. That's not a typo - 90%. The improvement in my mobility noticeable. I get up out of chairs easily and stairways are no longer obstacle to overcome. In general, I move around more.

My strength training has seen improvement as well. For months I've been plateaued. This is common in strength training but my progress was glacial as of late. Now I'm seeing small and regular improvements in the form of increased repetitions. Who knows, I might even have to add a weight plate or two in the near future.

At work, several people have inquired about the improvement in my physical appearance. I suspect what they are seeing is an improvement in posture, not so much weight loss or muscle gain, but hey, I'll take it. When I tell them that I'm rowing they're intrigued, until we get to price of rowing machine.

It costs $950 for a Concept 2 delivered to your home (that includes $50 for shipping). That sounds expensive, but if you stop and do the math, it's actually one of the least expensive exercise regimens short of calisthenics.

water-resistance.jpg

Water Rowers are also a good choice

Why? Because that's the extent of your investment. There are no accessories (other than special apparatus for serious competitive rowers). No special shoes (I use slippers), clothing, or memberships. And unlike tread mills or other exercise apparatus, Concept 2's (and other quality rowers) don't break. There are stories about these machines being used regularly for 20 years with no maintenance.

So while the initial investment is high, factored over say 5 years, you're likely to come out ahead compared to other regimens.

And if you ever do lose interest, you can easily sell it. I started out looking for a used machine but found the few that were available were selling for 80% of cost of a new one. I finally gave up and just bought new. Now that I own one, I can see why there are so few available in the after market.

I'll report back in a few months on my progress. We'll see if my enthusiasm for this new exercise routine wanes.

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