row2k Features
How to Get Started in Rowing
October 12, 2018
Ed Moran,

Somewhere, you've gotten the idea that you want to start rowing. For juniors, that probably happened as a suggestion of a parent, or a classmate, or a sibling that rows. That's an easy situation because the person making the suggestion most likely already either has a connection to a rowing club or program, or knows where one exists.

It gets a little trickier (daunting maybe?) if this is an idea that generated from watching a rowing race, someone talking about rowing, or because you are the parent of a rower. But, there is no reason to become overwhelmed, the rowing community is always open to new people, and there are many organizations and clubs that have programs geared toward beginners.

A few worth mentioning: Calm Waters in Lancaster, Virginia Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont; The Florida Rowing Center, in Palm Beach.

For more advanced instruction for competitive juniors and open and masters rowers, there are a number of camps run by some of the best collegiate programs in the country. Go here for a directory of camps.

So, there really is no reason to worry about having experience, being in competitive or recreational shape, owning equipment or getting instruction.

When to Start

December rowing in California
December rowing in California

Anytime is a good time to take up a new sport. But because rowing is an outdoor sport, getting started will, in many ways, be determined by location. Living in a warm weather location, offers beginners more opportunities to start out on the water, in either larger or small groups, or on individual basis.

Team equipment, or boats that seat four or more rowers, are easy to balance under the right instruction and with a good coach, and beginner singles, or recreational boats available from boat manufacturers like Maas Boats, WinTech are built to be stable and can be suitable platforms for learning. Clubs that exist in say, California or Florida, where the weather is warm most of the year, will most likely have sessions available all year.

Getting started in a cold weather environment is much different, and for reason of both safety and the availability of non-frozen water means starting indoors on rowing machines. But, again, there are always clubs with programs that can make this easy, and there are advantages: Starting out on rowing machines - ergs in rowing language - means being warm, not having to get equipment in and out of a boat house, and a coach and instructors that can move more freely between new athletes.

It also means having the opportunity to really dial into the rowing motion because what you do on an erg is pretty much what you do in a boat without having to fret over properly handling an oar. And it also means having opportunities a chance to race indoors.

Getting instruction on indoor rowers does not have to be done at a rowing club. Indoor rowing gyms and fitness centers that feature indoor rowers are plentiful and easy to find online.

February rowing in Boston
February rowing in Boston

Finding a Club

Obviously, finding a rowing club is easier in places where there is a tradition or rowing or schools that have rowing programs nearby. But not being in a traditional rowing location does not mean you can't row. There are places where rowing just doesn't exist as a competitive or recreational activity, but there are many places that have rowing clubs and programs available, and they are happy to greet new members.

Online search sites will most likely help locate a program, but there are also dedicated Find a Club" links available, including an extensive list available on row2k's Worldwide Rowing Links page.

There are also plenty of videos and features on rowing techniques and training available on row2k.

Getting a Quick Look

There are a few ways to try the sport out to determine if rowing is something that will fit in your life - meaning answering the questions of do I really want to do this, do I have the time, is it convenient enough for me, do I really want to spend money and commit to a program right now?

Having a family member or friend with access to a boat club or private equipment that can take the time to give a quick lesson or row makes that simple. Or, if not, many rowing programs participate in National Learn to Row Day, there clubs run clinics designed to give newcomers an idea of how they can become involved in the sport.

In either case, rowing is a sport that can be enjoyed year-round and offer a variety of life-long benefits from fitness to just being part of a very social community, and one that can hook you for life.

Hooked for life
Hooked for life

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