Thursday, January 18, 2018
Health

Want a full-body workout? Try a rowing machine

Shoulders down, back straight, abs tight, Fola Awosika instructed during a Foundations class at RowVigor in Arlington, Va., the Washington area's first popup rowing studio. Then: "You want your legs to do the bulk of the work."

Wait, what? "Your legs are the strongest part," he explained, despite the commonly held belief that rowing is all about the upper body. In fact, rowing engages 86 percent of muscles, an English Institute of Sport study found.

Rowing is not a new sport, but interest in indoor machines is growing. One reason is increased visibility: Rowing machines are part of the popular functional (read: core-focused) fitness programs at CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness. Another is that rowing on the water has limitations: weather and convenience, for instance.

Rowing can also be intimidating, added Toni Kerns, vice president of membership for Capital Rowing Club. "People think it's all upper body and that you have to be this super strong person to do it, but really, rowing is really low-impact on the body so you can be 90 pounds and a fast rower," Kerns said.

Awosika is one of three partners who opened RowVigor in August with nine rowing machines and a desire to ride the wave of growing interest in rowing. The number of people who used a rowing machine at least once in a year increased to 10.1 million in 2016, up from 9.8 million in 2015 and 9.5 million in 2010, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association's 2016 Tracking the Fitness Movement Report.

Makers of the machines are seeing increased demand from gyms. WaterRower, a 28-year-old manufacturer, has tripled production in the past five years, said David Jones, the company's North American sales and marketing director, and now makes upward of 1,000 a week.

"Historically, I don't know why people haven't used them. It's a great exercise," Todd Miller, director of George Washington University's Weight Management and Human Performance Lab, said of rowing machines. "The vast majority of aerobic exercise that people do — treadmills, cycling, steppers — all that stuff is primarily lower-body exercises. It doesn't really engage the upper-body musculature, so rowing does that. I think that's the best thing about it."

Plus, it's low-impact, Miller added. That also makes it more appealing — and accessible — to people of all fitness levels.

Another reason to try rowing? The return on your time investment. A 170-pound person doing moderate work on a rowing machine can burn about 270 calories in 30 minutes, the same amount as on a stationary bike, only rowing works more muscles.

Another draw: a healthier heart. A cardiologist studying how astronauts' hearts atrophy in space found that 30 minutes of rowing (or 90 minutes of cycling) kept them healthier.

Despite all these benefits, rowing machines on the gym floor haven't seen much use in recent years, Miller said. One reason could be marketing. "If you go into the club and you have 10 treadmills and you have one rower, odds are treadmills are going to become more popular," he said.

Another reason is that proper rowing form is not as innate as, say, walking on a treadmill.

"It's not just getting on and going back and forth on the machine. It's how hard you push and how you do the technique," said Michael Heisey, who leads rowing classes at Gold's Gym in Woodbridge, Va. Plus, "it's pretty boring by itself, but when you're in a group and you've got music and you've got somebody like me pushing you, it makes people work harder."

Comments
5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

Five things we learned about President Donald Trump from Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the doctor who oversaw Trump’s first medical checkup in office. SLEEP Trump doesn’t get much shut-eye. Jackson guessed that Trump snoozes four to five hours a nig...
Published: 01/17/18
A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

WASHINGTON — The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after one of history’s most catastrophic disease o...
Published: 01/17/18
A popular school fundraiser is just ‘junk-food marketing to kids,’ experts say

A popular school fundraiser is just ‘junk-food marketing to kids,’ experts say

For 43 years, schoolkids and their parents have clipped the labels from cookie bags and cracker boxes as part of a popular rewards program called Labels for Education.Through this and similar programs — think Tyson’s Project A+ or General Mills’ Box ...
Published: 01/17/18
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you don’t want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Published: 01/16/18

CDC says ‘There’s lots of flu in lots of places.’ And it’s not going away anytime soon.

A nasty flu season is in full swing across the United States, with a sharp increase in the number of older people and young children being hospitalized, federal health officials said Friday.The latest weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control ...
Published: 01/12/18
Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

SAFETY HARBOR — Mease Countryside Hospital is launching a $156 million expansion to build a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage.The tower will include 70 private patient rooms, a 30-bed observation unit, cr...
Published: 01/11/18
Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a bad one. Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside. The strain that has been most pervasive, H3N2, is nastier than most. And, we’re being told, ...
Published: 01/11/18
He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

Kyler Baughman seemed to be the face of fitness. The 21-year-old aspiring personal trainer filled his Facebook page with photos of himself riding motorbikes and lifting weights. He once posted an image of a kettlebell with a skeleton, reading: "Cros...
Published: 01/11/18
Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

The image on the cover of the February issue of Vogue features Serena Williams proudly showing off her adorable daughter.The story she tells of the changes wrought on her life by the arrival of Alexis Olympia, whom she calls by her middle name and ...
Published: 01/11/18
‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

Annie Filkowski used to see the signs during her drive to school each morning. "Free pregnancy tests," they said.So when she feared she might be pregnant at 16, shortly after starting to have sex with her boyfriend, she remembered them. And walked in...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18