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The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment in the Gym

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rowing Machine

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer
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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 rowing on and off for years.
    My doctors all said the same thing: The rowing machine is the most underrated piece of cardio equipment in the gym.
    However, your own two feet are the most underrated pieces of cardio "equipment" there is.
    I walked off 150 pounds and have kept them off for 10 years.
    Since 2003, I've walked OVER 35,000 miles leaving 150 pounds of unhealthy, unwanted weight in my wake.
    I show you how you can do it, too, in my new book: Commit To Get Fit: Find the Secret to Your Own True and Everlasting Weight Loss. - 6/28/2014 8:44:53 AM
    I love our gym's rower!
    Started out in 20 second bursts (before having to rest, lol) but now I'm up to 3 minutes at a time. I love it, and use it more than the treadmill or elliptical for calorie burning. It's the main part of my workout routine. Love it! - 6/6/2014 12:37:10 PM
  • My Concept 2 Model D is in my living room in front of my TV. I just crossed the 3 million meter mark and plan to do another 3 million (or more) this season). The great thing about having your own machine is that you don't have to go anywhere to use it. Because of my work schedule, I often find myself rowing at all hours of the day and night. Very convenient. - 5/2/2014 2:25:33 PM
  • We just got a new one in my gym at work. I'm starting off slowly, but really enjoying it! - 4/23/2014 3:22:21 PM
  • I wish I had access to one. - 3/30/2014 6:26:41 AM
  • Don't have a rowing machine in my gym. - 3/17/2014 9:41:15 PM
    I've used the rower a few times in sessions with my trainer. It's a tough work out for sure. Reading this article made me think I should incorporate it more into my cardio work outs on my own...might give it a go this week :) - 2/24/2014 2:06:04 AM
    I tried the rowing machine today after reading this article recently. I thought, "Well, it'll be a nice change up for 30 mins instead of the treadmill." WRONG! After 12 minutes, I'm absolutely worn out! (I think the trainer started me off on too high of a resistance level, so I adjusted it down & still think it may be too high.) But I have new goals now & something new to do at the gym. I'm hooked! :) - 2/21/2014 8:12:21 PM
  • SNOOKS2013
    Will look into this - 2/20/2014 5:32:17 AM
  • I don't like to use this machine at all. My lower back hurts after 10 mins, and it is boring as hell working out on this! I'll pass! - 2/19/2014 10:51:05 PM
  • its shameful we have a beautiful one in the gym at work and I have never used it. - 2/19/2014 8:53:53 PM
    Great to see so many positive views. Good timing just a few days after the WIRC (CRASH-Bs) the big indoor rowing event.

    A few links for anyone:
    m great for their log website and all the monthly challenges.
    www.therowingco good for the info into training, losing weight or more competitive, forums are a rich source of encouragement.
    http://www.nona an annual year long challenge brilliantly run. - 2/19/2014 5:27:45 PM
  • I have use the rowing machine at the YMCA.It is true it is relaxing. I feel like I am rowing in the open waters:) I will start doing it tomorrow with my other classes after reading all the great things about it. - 2/19/2014 12:25:03 PM
  • i definitely burn more cals on the stairclimber easily... on that i never go below 600/hr so 300 for their half hr. and thats on an easier setting normally i do HIITS. its more comparable to my treadmill workouts. i have to work rlly hard to stay at 600/hr cals on that and im sure itd be similar for rowing. rower is good but i dont ever feel like i get as good of a workout as the others, and its more monotonous and therefore boring to me for some reason. but hey as long as your doing SOMETHING always go for it. everyone can find their preference this is a decent alternative - 2/19/2014 11:22:32 AM
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