I had to point people in the direction of the rowing machine after I extolled the virtues of swimming to high havens and back. The stick I got was mainly from folks who can’t swim and or are allergic to chlorine in swimming pools. They got it that I love swimming and swimming is a complete body exercise. But they took serious exception to the fact that I did not mention a good alternative for people like them. And it is not as if being unable to swim is a disability.
So my mission, as defined by the pitch-fork welders, was simple. What is a good alternative to swimming? Any other option must be a low impact exercise like swimming. So I present to you the rowing machine.
I ‘discovered’ the rowing machine in the American TV series ‘House of Cards’ three years ago. Now, if you haven’t watched that show, you don’t know what a political drama is. The irrepressible Kevin Spacey is in his element as a high-stakes politician who makes the mafia look like children playing games with outdated toys. Only his wife, the classy Robin Wright, knows how to get the better of him. The partnership the two forge is simply unstoppable. You might find this hard to believe, but the TV series made the rowing machine very popular. According to some online reports, sales of rowing machines normally spike any time a new season of ‘House of Cards’ is on. The machine is the inanimate star of the series I tell you.
What is a Rowing Machine
Basically, the rowing machine is a piece of exercise equipment that simulates the action of a person rowing a boat. The machine is placed indoors, so it is a good form of exercise for those who can’t be bothered about outdoor exercises.
How to Use a Rowing Machine
There are different types of rowing machines out there. They come in all shapes and sizes. Instruction manuals for how to use the machine are as varied as there are machines. There is no one-size-fit-all instructions for them.
However, in using a rowing machine the following cannot be compromised
- Both the arms and legs must be in use while using the machine. You are not doing it well if only the arms are being used while rowing.
- When using the machine, your posture must mimic your natural gait. That is, your back and shoulders must be relaxed while rowing.
- Make sure to control your motion so that the seat doesn’t slam into the front of the machine. That would upset your rhythm and make for a bumpy ride.
- Try to synchronize the movement of your arms, legs and body. You are not doing it properly if your legs push too fast. This has the effect making your butt ‘shoot’ out ahead of your body. Your body would then be in the uncomfortable position of having to catch up with the butt. Literary. The extra work causes unnecessary strains in the wrong places.
All these will become more clearer when you make the rowing machine a consistent part of your work out. The point is, you become better the more you use it.
Benefits of Rowing Machine Exercise
Since using a rowing machine involves the constant movement of your arm, legs and torso, a lot of energy is thus used up leading to burning those excess calories in your body. Basically, any exercise that involves sweating, muscles and increase hate rate must have these benefits:
- Weight loss– the clear link between burning up calories and weight loss is indisputable. There are little or no myths. If your burn calories, you loss weight. The machine is so good at burning calories that you can burn up to 400 calories in just 30 minutes!
- Cardiovascular– your heart gets the most benefits from consistent use of the rowing machine. Since the tension can be increased or reduced, you can regulate how fast you want to row. Of course, rowing very fast means increased heart rate which in turn improves the lung and circulatory system.
- Tones the Muscle– almost every muscle is involved in using the rowing machine. It strengthens your deltoid and pectoral muscles. All the muscles in the arms like biceps and triceps are not left out. Your leg muscles too get the benefit of using the machine. And the good thing is, you can regulate how you want to strengthened these muscles by adjusting the tension in the strings.
- Convenience– the machine takes up little space. You can place it before your TV and row along with Kevin Spacey as you watch an episode of ‘House of Cards.’ And compared to other indoor exercise machines, the rowing machine is relatively cheap.
If you don’t know where to buy one, or you are short of cash, consider a DIY rowing machine. Even if you are not handy with tools, you can get your local carpenter to build one for you. An absolutely gorgeous rowing machine can be made for less than N15 000. There are other cheaper ways of making it though. Just explore your options.
By the way, the rowing machine in the ‘House of Card’ series is a very special kind of rower. You got to be very rich to afford that. Whatever.