While erging on a dusty, painted garage floor this spring, as the rating went up toward the end of a hard piece, I did a quiet calculation on how far the erg was skidding with each stroke. My best guess was that I could probably finish the piece without crashing out into the driveway, and it turned out just right - another 10 strokes and I would have jumped the garage threshold.
If you have spent any time on an erg, you have also spent time, at some point, skidding across the floor on an erg. We have built and seen numerous hacks to keep this from happening, some of which are shown below, but thought it would be helpful to speak to the ergmakers about best practices, tricks to use and tricks to avoid, and products that can help you stay put when the meters are counting down, the rating going up, your technique falling apart, and you just want the erg to say put so you can pound on the footboards.
Erg movement is caused by the same forces as boat check, and as you increase intensity and rating, so do you increase the amount of force generated when you change directions at the catch, and adjustments to your rowing will almost always help to some extent.
That said, it's not always enough to row a bit more smoothly (and not always attainable when you are coming apart at the end of a piece), and bigger rowers produce more force when changing direction, so tend to see the problem more often.
Concept2 founder Dick Dreissigacker and Hydrow Chief Coach Justin Moore offered the following information, tips, and strategies.
Choose a Good Surface, and Keep It Clean
Both Dreissigacker and Moore's opening comment was to keep whatever surface you choose clean.
"We recommend using the Concept2 RowErg on a surface that is easy to keep clean," Dreissigacker said, and Moore echoed the recommendation: "It is best to put an erg on an easy-to-clean surface."
On the topic of where to put the erg, note that not all surfaces are created equal.
While you may be limited in options for where to put the erg, "You can make any surface work!" Dreissigacker said. "Certain floor surfaces such as rubber, carpet, rough concrete, etc. will offer greater friction to keep the erg in place. Other surfaces such as finished wood, tile, vinyl, etc. may not have the friction needed depending on the user’s weight, intensity, and technique."
Moore added that easy-to-clean surfaces are often the most slippery. "Waxed surfaces tend to be the worst, and highly polished hard-woods will also be quite slippery (especially if there is a layer of dust on them)," Moore added.
Both Dreissigacker and Moore recommended putting down a dedicated floor mat so long as the material properties provide enough friction between the mat and the floor," Dreissigacker added; both C2 and Hydrow offer erg mats for sale.
Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks to Keep the Erg from Sliding
Classic garage erg setup, with evidence of what can happen if you don't secure your erg
Dreissigacker offers a couple tips; one is to make sure not only the floor is clean, but the underside of each rubber foot of the erg is clean, as any dust and dirt will reduce the friction.
And he offers this trick: "If sliding is still a problem, you can put double stick tape on the rear feet. (It’s best to wrap the tape all the way around the rubber feet.) This is easiest to install on the rear feet, which is normally enough to fix the sliding."
Other Tactics: 2x4s, Yoga Mats, Playpen Mats, More
The simplest and most effective approach we have seen has been simply to put a pair of 2x4s or 2x8s between the foot of the erg and a wall, and blasting away. "Yes, putting a 2x4 or similar between the front feet and a wall is a good option if the RowErg is facing a wall," Dressigacker said. "That will work and will allow appropriate airflow around the machine," Moore added. "You may need to repaint your trim eventually, but nobody really looks anyway, though it's not the most sophisticated looking option."
In addition to the official mats, Moore has improvised with stuff he had lying around - yoga mats, kids puzzle mats, and beach towels.
For yoga mats, Moore notes that they are not extremely durable, and can be expensive, so "having a rower tear them up every few months gets costly. They also tend to be porous, so are difficult to clean. "My solution before I got a Hydrow mat was to put a large beach towel over the yoga mat, and the rower on top of that. The towel absorbs sweat and can easily be tossed into the washer, and protects the mat from wear."
Moore also used his children's puzzle mats when erging on a painted concrete floor.
"My kids had grown and were no longer using the large colorful square mats that have boundaries like puzzle pieces that allow them to be attached in all kinds of forms," Moore recalled. "They are versatile and easy to clean, and when I was not using them, I could stack them in a pile. While I wished they were black, the bright yellow, green and red help add color to the room during the darker winter months."
What about putting the erg against a wall?
"If the flywheel air intake is close to a wall, it will reduce the drag factor," Dreissigacker notes. "The closer you get (to the wall), the lower the drag factor. The Performance Monitor can tell when the drag factor changes, so having the flywheel close to the wall will not affect your score, but may, inadvertently, not be at your optimal setting."
Moore agreed; while the Hydrow does not use airflow, and instead uses an electromagnetic brake for resistance, he notes that "it will work, but if you rely on the flywheel to brace the machine against a wall, you are stressing the machine in places it was not designed to be stressed."
We have also seen a few other tricks, some shown here - small blocks nailed to the floor; long rows of blocks nailed to the floor, a suitcase containing a coin collection placed in front of the erg, the old reliable of 45 lb. weights in front of the erg, and more.
Or you could try this:
If you have any good, better, or entertaining tactics, send them along and we'll add to the list and the photos.