Rowing is a great way to meet people and get some exercise. Even if you’ve never paddled a day in your life, it’s never too late to pick up an oar.
Not only is rowing a fantastic workout, but it’s one of the most pleasant forms of exercise imaginable. Gliding along the still water has a meditative quality that you just don’t get from running on a treadmill at the gym.
If you’re interested in getting started with rowing, here are some tips to set you in the right direction.
Study the anatomy of a stroke
The rowing stroke may look simple, but it’s actually made up of several finely tuned stages. Read up on the different components of a perfect stroke, from the ‘catch’ (placing the oar in the water) all the way to the ‘extraction’ (removing the oar from the water).
If possible, head to your local rowing spot and carefully watch how the rowers move their arms and legs in unison. See if you can pinpoint the different stages of their stroke, such as the leg drive (legs straight, arms straight, body forward) and feathering (rotating the oar so that the blade is parallel to the water’s surface).
Practice your form on land
Before you hit the open water, take a spin on an ergometer at your local gym. Rowing machines are designed to resist your stroke in the same way that water resists the pull of an oar. It’s the ideal way to get a feel for rowing and master the more subtle components of your rowing posture.
Don’t rush your slide
One of the most common mistakes beginners make is rushing up the slide. When you bend your knees and move forward, you should do so in a controlled manner. The time you spend moving forward up the slide during the recovery phase of your stroke should be twice that of when you move backward during the drive phase.
Novices are often keen to begin their next stroke, and the tendency is to rush into the next pull of the oar. Slowing your pace up the slide may feel counterintuitive, but it allows you to make the most of the boat’s glide after each stroke.
Join a rowing club
After a bit of practice on the rowing machine, take the plunge and join a rowing club. You can choose to row in pairs or as part of an eight-person crew. Many clubs across Britain cater to rowers of all experience levels and ages. Visit the British Rowing website to find a club in your local area.
Does rowing interest you?