My favourite way to keep healthy has always been rowing. My mum was a rower, and after years of putting it off, I finally took it up with a group of friends when I was 15. Initially, this was just for fun; however, as I got better I began to row competitively with my university in New Zealand.
I would row in a team of nine, so there was myself, seven other rowers and a coxswain, which is the person who would sit at the front of the boat, give us directions and let us know where we were sitting in the race. He would also help us with training.
From a health perspective, I found that the indoor training component of rowing was the most beneficial. When you’re off the water and training, using the rowing machine is fantastic. It works out your whole body and it’s so beneficial for your general fitness.
Other training we did included cycling cross-training and a lot of gym work. At the gym, I would do a lot of ‘endurance weights’ as rowing is very demanding and requires a high level of stamina. This would involve a lot of repetitions of lighter weights, especially during peak rowing season. In the offseason, I would mix it up with some heavier weights, and would do a lot of the ‘big four’ (bench press, bench pull, squats and leg press), but the endurance weights were definitely the most valuable from a rowing perspective.
Rowing also instilled good habits in me. I began to love starting my day really early in the morning (we used to train at 5:30 am), and with those couple of extra hours in my day, I felt like I was being so much more productive and accomplishing a lot more. Having done a workout, I would feel refreshed and ready to attack the rest of my day-to-day activities with a clear head. There are many benefits to waking up early – check out my colleague Ben’s recent blog on this here.
I plan to take my own advice and get back into rowing this summer – I’ve been out of action for a while after doing my knee and losing a bit of motivation. Whether this is in a coaching capacity or as more of a social activity remains to be seen, but I can’t wait to get back out on the water and enjoy the sunshine.
If you’ve never done it before, I strongly recommend giving rowing a try! For those based in Victoria, here is a list of a few places that provide Learn to Row (LTR) courses.