What could be better than a day out on the water, skimming across the surface at lightening speed, powered by your own effort? Rowing, in addition to all that, offers a tremendous workout. While it may seem that rowing is all about the arms, it actually works the legs the most. You'll improve the fitness of your quads, abdominal muscles, back, and shoulders, not to mention your arms.
Rowing can be done in a wide variety of vessels, from skiffs and dinghies to Olympic-level shells. You can join a team and row as one oar in a boat or row on your own, soaking in the solitude.
Because rowing involves oars, rather than paddles, the rower always sits with their back to their destination. The oar blades, which face the same direction as the rower, reach back, grab the water, and pull forward, shooting the boat backwards.
If you're new to rowing, you might sign up for a lesson with an experienced crew member. They'll teach you how to use your lets to put power into the stroke, how to feather the oars to lessen your wind-resistance, and how to set a straight course. If you're rowing on your own, you'll use both a left and right oar. On larger crew teams, the rowers sometimes each use one oar only. In this case, of course, the rowers must time their strokes with one another and work together to keep their course straight.
Racing shells are long, narrow, and low to the water to reduce drag. Because of this low draft, it's important that you become familiar with boats before you try rowing a shell. Become adept at getting in and out of low boats, keeping your center of gravity low and your weight over the centerline of the boat.
Since nearly every gym has at least one rowing machine, indoor rowing has become popular as a sport in its own right. There are indoor rowing competitions, tournaments, and leagues. If you're interested, ask a trainer at your gym if there are contests you can enter and then see if they can help with your stroke and your training regime.