Fitness Articles

The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment in the Gym

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rowing Machine

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5. Good for the mind, too! All kinds of exercise have been shown to boost mood and decrease anxiety, but rowing is particularly relaxing due to its rhythmic nature. Something about that repeated pull-and-push motion is reminiscent of waves washing on the shore, which is good for calming the mind! Increase this feeling by listening to high-energy, feel-good songs while you work out or by turning on a travel show with beautiful scenery for you to watch while you row, row, row your . . . self.

6. New option for cross-training. For runners and endurance athletes, rowing is a fantastic option for cross-training, yet it's usually one that's forgotten. Many times people don't cross-train (even though they know it's important!) because they either get bored with activities or they simply don't enjoy them. But rowing—unlike cycling, swimming or the elliptical—is a totally new motion that you can throw into your cross-training mix! And unlike most cross-training activities that only work the lower body, indoor rowing also works the upper body and core—and strengthens the low back.

7. Its range of motion rocks. Rowing has a very unique push-and-pull motion of both the upper and lower body that you don't see in a lot of stationary cardio machines. Not only that, but this movement allows your muscles to work in a full range of motion. The sliding seat on the rower and its adjustable pedals allow people of all heights and sizes to move completely and fully. Working in a full range of motion is great for joint health and flexibility.

8. You can track your progress. Just like tracking your speed when running or logging how many miles you walked, you can track your distance, speed, calories burned and time on the rower, too. As you get fitter and accustomed to the rower, have fun with setting goals based on how fast you can row a 5K or how far you can row in a set amount of time. See how long it takes you to burn 200 calories or how long you can maintain a certain pace without wavering. Most indoor rowers even have a way for you to increase or decrease the resistance to make for an easier or harder workout. Play with your indoor machine's settings, set goals and be proud of yourself when you reach them!

9. It's fun! Did we mention that rowing is a good time? Sure, you may not be outside on a lake rowing the day away, but just rowing back and forth on the sliding seat is kind of enjoyable. And it's fun to focus on your form: using your legs to push off with power, pulling the handle toward your core to generate more speed as you lean back, and then controlling your body as you bring the handle back up and toward the rower. You can time your row speed to the beat of a song, your breathing or just go "out for a row."
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I've been using the rowing machine for some time now which I include in interval rotation, treadmill, stairmaster, stationary bike, the elliptical and the rowing machine. I enjoy it as it does provide the total body workout as most of the machines I use lack the upper body. I offset this with hand weight exercises and push ups .you're right, it is the most undervalued as it is hardly occupied at my fitness center. - 5/11/2016 2:38:35 AM
  • Great article. I love the Concept 2 rower. It has become my favorite piece of gym equipment. - 3/29/2016 4:57:53 AM
  • I have recently started using the rowing machine, and I love it. I must admit that I am concerned that I am not using it correctly, though. As for being the most underused piece of equipment in the gym, I disagree. There are 6 machines in the gym, and sometimes they are all being used at the same time. - 3/5/2016 11:22:43 PM
  • I sporadically used a rowing machine 2007-2012 when I had a gym membership, then I started exercising at home. This past Christmas, I found a rowing machine for under $100 sold by Its not nearly as sturdy as those in the gym, and I wouldn't recommend it if you weigh more than about 220 pounds. It has served me well, as in the last for years I've gotten my weight under 195. It has strengthened me in these last 2 months, and I've replaced a lot of other core exercises I had been doing. - 2/26/2016 11:17:28 PM
  • I am a former NCAA collegiate rower and then rowed with a community rowing club for many years after graduation. Rowing is a wonderful sport. I encourage everyone to try it. Please be sure to ask for help from the staff at the gym if you are just starting out. The form is VERY important so as not to strain your back. If your arms are working too hard, you are doing it wrong - it should be mostly legs. - 2/26/2016 10:09:15 AM
  • I would love to have a rower. However, my knees wouldn't allow it! I have a total knee that doesn't bend past 85 degrees, if I force it I might get 90, but that's about it!

    - 2/25/2016 7:54:36 PM
  • I was shown a rower during physical therapy- and was shown how to use it properly ( after I explained how awful it was to do) and the most important thing I was taught - is doing it fluidly & not trying to row the Atlantic ocean in 1 session.I row 2x a week still, and it is the 1 set of machine that are always empty. I started at 254 pounds - so being big will not stop you from using it, and it is a real total workout - CAUTION you may notice less joint ache, and better posture after a while. : ) - 2/25/2016 10:51:43 AM
  • Rowing machines are my absolute favorite apparatus. I was first introduced to one in cardiac rehab, and ever since whenever I go to a new or old gym for that matter, it is the first thing I look for right after the bathroom. Hey, it;s about priorities. - 1/18/2016 3:31:06 PM
  • When I was a kid, we had a "rowing machine" at our house. We used to play on it. It was very utilitarian. I haven't seen one since! In all the gyms I've been to, not a one. I didn't know it was a real cardio machine! lol - 1/5/2016 9:52:30 AM
  • I just got a Sunny Health Fitness Rowing Fitness Machine, a rather lightweight model (I wouldn't recommend if you're much above 200 lbs). from Easy assembly and under $100. - 1/4/2016 8:33:23 PM
  • I love the rowing machine but Planet Fitness doesn't have any :( Not sure why. - 1/2/2016 8:00:29 PM
  • I love rowing! It's a good warm-up for my runs to prevent cramping. Unfortunately for me, the rowing machines at my gym are almost always taken. - 1/2/2016 4:06:16 PM
  • I used to think that when I was paddling our canoe, it was relaxing on the lake, but not that much exercise. After not paddling for a while, we went out and I noticed how many muscles I was using and then next day, I noticed again! It was really good and not boring since we were on a beautiful lake with lots to see.
    - 1/2/2016 2:28:44 PM
  • Rowing is fun, but you need to use good form on this machine, too, just as you do for all other machines, or you can hurt your back. - 1/2/2016 12:18:21 PM
  • I use the concept 2 machine, set it for 2000 meters, and then simulate a race - hard start, steady endurance in the middle, then a strong finish. At level 6 I've got it to 10 minutes. Working on the achieving the same time at a higher level. - 12/19/2015 10:14:52 AM

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