(This article first appeared in the May 17, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
Stationary bikes are yesterday’s news as a new wave of rowing machines are occupying the East End. Making its debut in May 2016 with a location at 33 Hill Street in Southampton, East End Row conducts low impact training on The GX WaterRower. The machine is a water-filled flywheel that adds natural resistance and a tranquil “swoosh” sound that emulates the sound of rowing in nature. It’s a workout that can burn up to 1000 calories in a single class, so sign up fast!
Arriving on a rainy Saturday morning for my debut 50-minute class with instructor Albee Rogers, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Rowing seemed to be a straightforward workout only for back and shoulder muscles, with a preppy connotation to it. I imagine scenes out of Dead Poets Society or The Skulls.
After receiving my complimentary water and fresh towel, as instructed, I prepared a mat, medium weights, and resistance band next to my row machine for weight-based strengthening in between our “waves.”
Similar to sprints in a cycling class, “waves” are high intensity row intervals to heart pumping music at your own pace. After several minutes of adjusting to the motion, which Rogers so kindly helped me with, the first wave hit.
“Legs, abs, chest. Chest, abs, legs.” Repetition became second nature as I envisioned myself in one of those movies rowing with my team towards the finish line. The waves began. 300 meters. 200 meters. 100 meters. How far can you get in 45 seconds? Now 20 seconds. Go! By the last wave I had won my imaginary race against the Winklevoss twins.
Teaching with East End Row since its opening, Rogers has been a professional health and wellness coach for almost ten years. As a dietician, the transition from observing her clients progress, to taking an active role in their lifestyle, seemed natural.
“Rowing is definitely a new trend,” Rogers explained. “I had already been rowing at Crossfit . . . when East End Row opened . . . I thought what better way to lean out your body . . . but still work on the cardio portion that everyone sort of hates.
It’s a fun setting that’s choreographed to music so the beat keeps you going throughout the entire class and you never want to stop because once that beat goes you want to go even faster for it.”
Rogers made training off the WaterRower as interestingly self-competitive as on it. While playing “Roxanne” by The Police the class was told to do a single burpee (you know, those wonderful full body jump, pushups) every time the name Roxanne was said. To be clear, it’s said roughly 26 times. At another point, the song “Flower” by Moby was used for squats. Fittingly so, as the lyrics say “lift and squat.”
Each time Moby brought “Sally down” the class squatted in unison, nearly 30 times. Finally, we used the weights for additional arm and shoulder toning in pulsating movements.
What I enjoyed most about this workout was the surprising full body benefit. Every row motion targeted lower glutes, along with arms and abs. Using the row handles and foot straps, there were added oblique techniques and core training. Of course, the next day I mostly felt a soreness in my back and shoulder muscles, but I recommend this class to all levels and all fitness types.
“Trust your trainer,” Rogers explained a common misconception seen quite often. “Know that they’re correcting your form or modifying your workout for a reason to benefit you most. Sometimes the best workout is very slow, but proper movements.”