This is really more of an erg room hack, but for folks about to spend a few good weeks of winter in a stuffy, less-than-optimally-ventilated pain cave filled with erging athletes, maybe grab some duct tape and give this hack a go: The Filtered Fan.
Coach Eric Catalano sent this one in last summer, when his ARION athletes were looking for some relief from the poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke wafting across upstate New York at the time.
He tells us the idea came from Jack Lowery, one of the rowers at the Saratoga Rowing Association. They just took five off-the-shelf air filters (there is a fifth on the bottom), then taped them to each other and a standard box fan to make a cube. The four wooden dowels keep the whole contraption up off the ground to maximize the airflow--and in a jiffy the Saratoga boathouse had a super cheap way to get cleaner air circulating in the erg room.
While fans are a staple in any well-equipped erg space, the best you can usually hope for from them is the chance to blow the same musty and dank air around...and there is usually one athlete at the end of the row hogging most of that breeze anyhow.
This hack pushes the air up to get better flow around the whole room and the filters do help clean the air in the process. They might not filter out every cough and sneeze during a long erg session with a full team, but it sure can't hurt to try and catch any germs you can--especially since you can make these Filtered Fans pretty easily. Plus, as they found during the wildfires last summer, this hack can really help when the air quality in general is impacting your workouts.
Catalano does recommend changing the filters when they start to look grungy, but they are not expensive, and neither--of course--is another roll of tape.
Do you have a cool trick for making your team's erg time more pleasant or productive? If so, share your ideas--and hacks--in the comments below.
If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us like Eric did and we will feature your idea in a future column.