Before the pandemic, I had a pretty good routine for sleep and exercise. That included a lot of walking I did by virtue of being on a campus where I had to move around between buildings and opportunities to walk and talk with others for meetings.
Like so many, the pandemic pushed me into a zone of languishing and I let go of these habits. It wasn’t hard - I’ve never been one to take to various exercise regimens. I find exercise boring, and I find other things that I can do that I enjoy more.
We have a Peloton in our house, and it’s a very cool product - my wife Lora likes to use it. But I’ve not enjoyed it that much. I don’t like stationary biking. There is no gamification that makes it feel anything but a grind to get through. Classes (live or otherwise) don’t motivate me.
That brings me to rowing. Earlier this year my friend Kelsi Leitz (also my Pilates instructor) got a Concept 2 Rower and was raving to me about it. I remember rowing in high school and not having any particularly happy thoughts about it. However, desperate to DO SOMETHING I became curious.
Then at one of my first monthly manager lunches, the group was sharing goals for the year. Many of the managers in my team shared how exercise was a key goal. A few of them started talking about their rowers - Egatta and Hydrow. Aha, I was on to something.
I did what most people do at this point. I headed to YouTube and watched a bunch of videos going over each rower. Those helped me decide to get an Ergatta.
Later on, I read this great interview of the Ergatta CEO and underscored what I appreciate about this rower - beyond just the hardware.
What made you decide rowing was the platform to use? “I've never been a rower. It wasn't like I was passionate about rowing so that's the platform . . .I just used to run every morning before work and my knees started to hurt and I needed something that was low-impact and easy on the knees. So, that's kind of where it came from personally. But rowing is a better workout than running or biking. It burns calories as fast or faster. It works more muscles, it's easier on the knees. And, secondly, a rowing machine—if it's designed correctly—fits in the home more seamlessly. Our rowing machine stores vertically in the space of a barstool, less than two by two. Not everyone has a big home gym that they can put a big treadmill in or put a stationary bike in. Rowing allows an economy of space that is really helpful for home workouts.”
Our target customers are people that want to be in better shape, and they don’t love fitness classes. So, more competitive, more introverted, more motivated by achievement and competition than instructors.”
Aha - that’s me! Introverted but wishing to be in better shape!
So - How is the experience and how am I doing?
The Ergatta rower is manufactured by the Water Rower company. They have been around for a while. Ergatta supercharges the rower with a digital experience that gamifies and helps you love to Row.
The hardware is like furniture. It looks great when it’s not in use and it also can be placed upright against a wall for storage.
I promised myself I would not write about this rower unless I formed a habit around it. So here I am 30 days later. I have rowed for 28 of those days, for 25 or more minutes. I traveled for part of this time and found Concept2 rowers in one of the two gyms I had access to, so that resulted in a 2-day “gap”. Sad.
Part of the secret for me - was placing the rower in front of our bedroom. This means I have to walk by the rower numerous time as day - forcing me to think about when I will row. I’ve rowed in the morning, in between meetings, during my lunch hour, before bedtime. It takes me 30 seconds to put on shorts, a shirt, and sneakers to hop on. No bike shoes, no going to the basement (where the bike is out of sight and out of mind). I’d row for 10 minutes right at the end of lunch and then again later in the day.
Since starting my rowing journey I have rowed 90,000 meters, completed 51 workouts, and burned 5305 Calories. I’ve closed my rings every day too.
The Ergatta has a number of different ways to row - there are races, tutorials, and games that make rowing fun and pass the time. I generally listen to two podcasts while I row and this is a good way for me to multi-task.
The thing I like about rowing is:
It’s meditative - the rhythm and form are important and I enjoy focusing on breathing and moving as fluid as possible.
It stretches your shoulders and back and helps me with core strength and posture
It works your whole body
It’s a very efficient way to burn calories and fat (if you are targeting aerobic exercise)
Buying the Rower
I was able to use my Microsoft “Perks+” benefit, where the company reimburses employees up to $1,500 a year for wellness to purchase the rower. I chose the white glove delivery option (the default) and about 3 weeks after ordering the rower it was delivered to my home. All I had to do was attach the LCD and fill the unit with water and start the tutorial.
Kelsi sent me some great material to get started. The most important thing about rowing is the form.
Beth has great videos that help you with your form. I suggest starting here before even using the Ergatta stuff. Here is one tip - if your arms are tired, you are not doing it right. Rowing is mostly your legs driving power and your arms at the last 10% of the drive.
What is the right heart rate for aerobic exercise so you burn fat? Subtract your age from 180 and that’s your max heart rate to calibrate towards.
Heart Rate sensor - In addition to my Apple Watch I like seeing my heart rate on the Ergatta display and so I picked up a POLAR Verity Sense Optical Heart Rate Sensor.
Community - Ergatta has a great Reddit community (and also Facebook, but I’m not on Facebook).
Getting an Ergatta
Ergatta is running a special through the end of March where you get $250 off if you use this referral link (I get a $100 in their store)
Rowing may or may not be for you. If you have struggled as I did, give it a shot. You don’t need to get an Ergatta, the Concept2 is an awesome rower and I loved using the one I found at a Gym.
You can find me on Ergatta - my username is OmarShahine.