This calorie-torching machine is popping up everywhere. Here's how to use it.
By Marissa Stephenson, SELF
Get this: The rower not only melts eight calories a minute, it tones your entire body. Nationwide chains like Equinox and Lifetime Fitness have created entire group classes around it, the rower is a key tool in CrossFit and boutique rowing gyms are the fit it trend in New York City (which means they'll soon be popping up in your neighborhood, too).
Here's the thing. It is really easy to look like an idiot on a rower. If it's your first time, or you're trying to fake the form, chances are slim you will nail it. However! Like riding a bike, the learning curve is steep at first, but once you've got the basics, you're good to go.
Which is why we're here to make that learning curve a little bit easier. We asked Eric Von Frohlich, founder of Row House, one of the newest New York City rowing studios, to give us a quickie crash course in rowing. Here's all you need to know to look like a pro.
Whether you're rowing at a boutique studio or using the erg in the back corner of your gym, you'll likely be on a Concept 2 machine. They're the gold standard in rowers. And if you're not, the console should be almost identical to the Concept 2 screen pictured here.
Once you sit down, hit the power button and choose "Just Row" at the top of the screen. Hit the Change Display button until this format pops up:
1. This is the amount of time you've been rowing. (Or, the digits you'll be obsessively staring at during high-intensity intervals in a bootcamp class.)
2. This is how long it would take you to row for 500 meters, or about a third of a mile.
3. This is the distance you've gone so far. (And yes, in meters, because your high school math teacher wasn't lying when he said everyone uses the metric system).
4. This is your strokes per minute. You want to keep that number in the low 20s, says Von Frohlich. If you're looking to push it during intervals, aim for the high 20s.
Mastering The Stroke
Prevent bad rowing form by watching Von Frohlich's 90-second how-to.
And here it is pared down to a GIF! Now you really have no excuse. (Sorry!)
Know Before You Row: 4 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
1. Crankin' to a 10. We mean the lever with the numbers 1 to 10 on the round flywheel at the front of the machine. It controls how much air enters the cage, creating resistance. Setting it on 10 won't give you a better workout or necessarily help you burn more cals, Von Frohlich says. You'll just go slower and peter out quicker, or get injured. You want the damper at a 3 or 4. Promise.
2. Turtling. Yep, that's the scientific term for hunching your shoulders over, and only using your legs to power your stroke, so you end up having to lift the handle over bent knees, and you hear the chain start to clack. Just like your momma always told you, you want good posture -- shoulders back, abs engaged. Use this visual from Von Frohlich: At the beginning of your stroke, your torso should be at 11 o'clock (from the top of your head to your tailbone); after you drive with your legs and finish pulling the handle to your chest, it's at 1 o'clock.
3. Letting the seat hit your heels. Your seat should never glide so far forward that it touches your sneaks (you'll lose major power and momentum). To start and end your stroke, keep 8 to 12 inches of space between the seat and your heels.
4. Ah! You're stuck in the foot straps! Oh, the mortification. But you'll never be that girl if you just remember to first loosen the foot strap buckles, then slide your feet up to get out of the pedals. Total pro.
*Photos courtesy of author