Indoor Rowing and Channeling House of Cards

Perhaps it is just everyone around me, but House of Cards is all any of us can talk about. If you have not tuned into this show yet, it is a must! It is a Netflix original series with two seasons under its belt. Netflix brilliantly releases all episodes of a season at once, which makes binge watching the show pretty much inevitable.  Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright not only play ruthless and complex characters flawlessly, but the show portrays how relentless people will be for power and prestige. While being all engulfed in the show I noticed how exercise is a big part of both characters lives and one of their go to workouts outside of running is rowing.

Now rowing machines are common at most gyms, however they typically are stored somewhere in the corner almost out of sight for most people. In my many times at the gym I rarely see people frequent the indoor rower. I myself have utilized the machine a hand full of times before, but  it has been for a quick 10 minute cardio set prior to a strength training class. Also to be honest the only reason I gave it a shot in the first place was because my legs were in desperate need of a break and the thought of running made me cringe. After watching House of Cards it made me re-think about my past rowing quickies and made me wonder if this exercise machine could be more?

In true San Francisco fashion I went straight to my site for all information, Yelp.  I started a search for rowing and happened to stumble upon a gym called APEXWellness Center that offers various fitness classes and an indoor rowing class was just one of them. For your first time at Apex you are able to try a class for free, so I thought why not and signed myself and Dustin up for last Saturday. 

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The class was located in Apex’s Lite Gym down a little alley in the Financial District. Walking down the paved road I almost missed the small studio and felt like I had stumbled into a European street opposed to a place where I was about to get my sweat on.  We walked into the gym and met Leo our instructor for the day. Leo is from South America and although his English was still a work in progress he was able to guide us through the class perfectly.  Now I have to say I was a little skeptical, how was I going to be able to row for a whole hour and either not bored out of my mind or in so much pain that I was going to want to pass out by the end of it.

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Leo started the class off by working with us individually on our form. Once we started to prefect that he would give us goals to hit in terms of pace and strokes per minute. We would then perform one minute on of rowing followed by a one minute break. After the first 20 minutes we started to incorporate 15 second sprints towards the end of our sets and would row as hard and as quick as we possibly could. It is amazing how rowing utilizes your entire body  from your shoulders down to your calves. Your heart rate goes up quickly and the motion of pulling with all of your strength is exhilarating. After 45 minutes of the interval training on the machine Leo had us we finish the workout with 10 minutes of stretching to cool down.

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 I had no idea until this class just how much form is required to perform rowing properly. Once you start to research rowing you find out it is an excellent exercise for improving cardio-vascular abilities, weight loss, cross training, and just general fitness. It is also great at blasting calories with a 130 lbs woman burning about 280 calories in 30 minutes. So next time you see the rowing machine standing all alone in the corner at the gym try testing it out. I highly recommend the high intensity intervals. It keeps it fun and interesting, while also giving you a great cardio workout. Here is a great 20-Minute Total Body Rowing Workout from Shape Magazine to get you going. Enjoy!

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