Row, row, row your way to a great workout? Last week the DailyBurn team was determined to find out for ourselves. Our crew of newbies and one former varsity rower headed to CityRow, a sleek new rowing studio that opened on January 6th in Union Square.
In the last year, a fleet of rowing studios has descended upon the greater New York area, but CityRow is unique in offering unconventional classes that integrate rowing with strengthening exercises or yoga. Plus, the circular layout of the rowing machines makes for instant class camaraderie. To get our feet wet, we started with “Signature Row,” a high-intensity interval class that alternates between sprints on the rower and supersets of strengthening exercises on a mat.
We strapped our feet into the Indo Rowers, the glamorous cousins of the standard rowing machine at most gyms, and got moving. Made of high-quality wood and a flywheel that contains water, the Indo Rowers make a soothing whooshing sound while you row. The result: a more therapeutic and pleasant sensory experience than the usual sawing noise you might expect from rowing machines with a chain and air-resistant flywheel.
“Rowing engages 85 percent of your muscles for a true total-body workout, and it is low-impact on your joints,” says CityRow founder and CEO Helaine Knapp. Add to that the cardio burn, plus the toning and sculpting you might expect from a personal training session.
And tone and sculpt we did. It might have been early but our gung-ho instructor Shaun was raring to go row. First, a speedy demo of rowing technique and then, the sweating began. As high-tempo music pumped through the studio, we felt our heart rate skyrocket as Shaun led us through 30-second intervals on the rowers. Each sprint was followed by a superset of challenging strengthening exercises that focused on one muscle group at a time. We loved alternating between rowing and dynamic strengthening, since it kept things interesting and kept our bodies from cramping up from being in one position the whole time. Shaun’s contagious energy motivated our crew through four rounds of rowing and strength work that targeted our upper body, arms, core and legs.
Though the focus of the class wasn’t on pro-level rowing technique or tracking our stats, we were never bored with the quick sprints and strengthening sets. CityRow delivered a great full-body workout that brought out our inner athletes, and our crew left feeling strong, energized and ready for a regatta.
Next up for CityRow? Rowers can look forward to classes that tap into the competitive and team aspects of rowing, along with events that use a race format to motivate you and your crew.