Saturday, May 22, 2010

There Is No Backseat

Awhile back, I saw an article that featured several Olympians including a rower. I immediately put rowing on my list of things to try. Then, one of my former colleagues took an introduction to rowing class which further got my attention.

Fast forward to March of this year. I was looking for a kettlebell class and came upon CrossFit Valley Park's website. They were going rowing and anyone interested was to contact Dan which I did because I wanted to make sure that newbies were welcome.

Our outing had been canceled once because of stormy weather and was almost in danger of being canceled today because the water was high which gave me enough time to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

I arrived and I'm out there with some pretty elite-looking athletes. I silently tell myself that I can hold my own. We got on the indoor machines and the instructor said "You all know what erging is..." I didn't say a word. I had no clue what it means to erg. Anyone?

We practice a few moves -- arms only. Arms and back. Arms with slight knees. All out rowing. Then, we practice rowing in synch. Next, we move to the boat storage area where the instructor encourages us to come up to the front because, as he said, there are no backseats in the boat. He goes on to explain the difference between the oars. Next, we divide up into groups of men and women so that the teams will have some kind of balance. We line up shortest to tallest. I'm the second shortest at 5'3 and a half. I get assigned to Ron's boat. Eight of us go over and get an explanation of how we're going to carry the boat. We're going to lift it up to waist level first then on our shoulders and then we follow Ron's marching orders. By this time, we've already taken our oars out to the dock.

At the boat ramp, we take off our shoes. We are told that everyone should put their left foot on the white line next to their seat. I'm number three which I will hear called a lot as we are getting instruction on the water.

The water is so high in the lake that when we get to the bridge, we have to lay all the way flat or risk decapitation. I am more than tense at this time because I'm also supposed to keep my oar in a certain position while we're laid out.

I seldom get something right on the first try that requires coordination and I, at times, felt like I was screwing up my teammates' chances since we had a race at the end with two other boats. Overall, though, I'm glad that I took Introduction to Rowing and I love that it is a team sport. Even when you're not rowing, you have a responsibility to keep your hand on the oar and contribute to keeping the boat set.

Things I learned while rowing:

  • The Coxswain is the boss.

  • There is no backseat.

  • Relax (recurring theme that I hear across disciplines).

  • If you're not working together, it's not going to be any fun.
  • It was so beautiful at the lake that I wish that I had thought to take my bike but I was in desperate need of sustenance by then since the class went from Noon to 3:30 p.m. and the intensity of the sun only added to my hunger.

    Have you tried something new recently or done something outside of your comfort zone?


    1. I want to try rowing, I do love kayaking. That's always fun to do.

    2. I really want to try this, but I think I should lose some weight first. I have a friend from law school who coaches a couple of the rowing teams at Jacksonville University.

    3. VERY COOL!!!!! IT hailed like the dicken on us while dragon boating today :) I was SOAKED and freezing and laughing all at the same time. I would like to try rowing, it looks so much more civilized than dragon boating.

    4. @Nicci@NiftyEats,

      I saw folks kayaking and it looked like they were having fun. I wouldn't mind trying it...

      @Fattie Fatterton,

      Go ahead and put it on your list and try it when you're ready. I could have used your friend. There were some Rowing Masters present but I could have used more help. :)


      I'm glad that you still had a good time even though it was raining and hailing on your head. :) Okay, now I have to go and do some research about dragon boating...

    5. This is wonderful! How terrific! I would love to try this with you. I am usually nervous and quite timid when I try something new. Great job getting out there and doing it!

    6. Diane,

      Thanks. :) It's good to know that I'm not the only one who gets jittery. I would thoroughly enjoy rowing with you. We gotta get in the same place one of these days...