row2k Features
Southerners Do Not Row - A Boomer’s Fitness Tale, by Scott Collins
December 7, 2010
Janit Stahl

As baby-boomers age and personal physicians makes pleas for patients to improve health, many head for their nearest fitness center. Not Scott Collins. Upon receiving his own doctor's dire assessment, and inspired by his wife Meredith’s (AKA “the force of nature”) success in the sport of rowing, Scott headed to the local boathouse and a couple rowing camps to improve his health through one of the more challenging sports to tackle in middle age.

Collins's self-deprecating humor holds this everyman’s tale of learning to row together. His is a painfully honest voice when it comes to his physical build, his technique, and ultimately his race results. Many masters’ rowers who took on the sport as adults will empathize with his flipping stories, his tentative approach to a racing single (rowing at half stroke), and first attempts at a racing start. Those middle-aged budding non-rowing athletes reading the story will likely feel that when it comes to a forced shape-up, it is a journey shared by many, and with varying success.

Collins credits Marlene Royle at Florida Rowing Center as providing supportive counsel through his first year of rowing; he also attended Craftsbury Sculling Center, where his introduction to the rowing stroke and a more healthy diet was eye-opening for the steak-and-potatoes (and Jack Daniels) Southerner. On that note, while Collins does recount his rowing experience at a club in Connecticut, save for (and arguably despite) the title of the book, little was mentioned about his Southern roots and how they shaped his outlook on and experience of rowing; it would have been interesting to hear his thoughts on this account.

While at Craftsbury, Collins recounts his turn in front of the video cameras out on the water:

“... I was all over the place. My balance just did not seem to be there. I was rocking at the catch and getting my oars too deep throughout the stroke..." He thought forward to the video review session to come: "I would be interested to hear what the coaches were going to tell me at the film review that night. I would be interested to know if the coaches were sniggering up their sleeves at my prowess when they looked at the video before the rowers entered the room."

This is a charming book for a new adult athlete, although it is possible some seasoned rowers and athletes may not identify with the author’s humble start (although the forward by Olympic Silver Medalist Xeno Mueller would suggest otherwise). Scott Collins expresses his intention to be up to par with his skilled rower and athlete wife Meredith early in the text, and ends up getting hooked on a sport. First person and very personal, read this during your own fitness junket.

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