Row Row Row Your Erg - ROW HOUSE REVIEW.

On Wednesday night I finally took an indoor rowing class at Row House NYC

For awhile now, I've been really interested in attending an erg class [indoor rowing machines are technically called ergometers, according to Wikipedia!] They're like the new spin class, popping up all over. These studios' gain in popularity coincided with me meeting a lot of new people through November Project who rowed in college, and definitely got me interested in giving it a chance. As a runner who feels like they're constantly injured, rowing is a lower-impact workout, while still being great for your entire body and not skimping on cardio! 

Just last week, Row House celebrated their 1st Birthday! I stopped by their party for some cute little hors-d'oeuvres from Just Salad and delicious drinks from fancy organic vodka and tequila brands that I can't remember the names of, oops. 


But let's get to the good stuff - the class. I signed up for a class at the Columbus Circle location [In reality, it's a bit of a trek from Columbus Circle - a little over a half a mile to 59th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues]. The studio has lockers, two bathrooms [each with a shower - and the showers are equipped with TRESemme shampoo and conditioner, classy!]  

A few minutes to six we were led into the studio, 3 rows of ergs with a giant mirror in the front. Our instructor, Eric sat front and center and explained that for most of the class we would be rowing together, following either his stroke or that of another coach who was in the class in the front row.  I sat directly behind Eric, hoping some of his form would rub off on me! 

Eric Von Frohlich was not only my instructor on Wednesday night, but he, along with wife Debra, are the founders of Row House! He's been interviewed for a bunch of fitness magazines on rowing technique, since a lot of people don't know the first thing about this piece of gym equipment.

 (I certainly didn't know a bout proper rowing technique, until this guy showed me the ropes!)

So when Eric asked who was new at Wednesday's class, I raised my hand, but I knew I had an advantage. When he started going over form, I was already a few steps ahead of the game, knowing that you're supposed to send your arms out first before bending your legs. 

He's clearly experienced in teaching people how to row, because what could have taken up a quarter of the class was done succinctly and quickly - a few strokes to get the arm movements down, then a few strokes putting everything together, learning that you're body is supposed to hit 1 and 11 on the invisible clock, and then it was time to get started. 

Like I said, for most of a Row House class everyone in the room is expected to row in-sync. After all, when you're actually outside rowing, that's what it's all about - teamwork to make the boat move! Eric led us through intervals, 10 strokes of recovery followed by 20-30 power strokes at differing strokes per minute. 

There's a lot of new terminology when it comes to using the erg - but going to a class at Row House will be SO helpful in letting you put together your own erg workout if you're so inclined to use the lonely little rower hidden in corners of gyms. 

But rowing as a group, in a dark room with music, makes indoor rowing a lot more enjoyable, in my opinion. 

(Eric demonstrating perfect form!) 

After 10 minutes of intervals, we got off the rowers for some body-weight exercises. 

First, squats. Then, front lunges. Next, back lunches. Last, inchworms to push-ups. I also liked that Eric included a stretch before we got back on the machines - and one that was good for our IT bands no less [I was concerned that my IT band would bother me during this workout, and as a runner, that's not a body part I'd like to upset!] 

Next we did another 10 minute section of intervals on the erg. The more I row, the more it starts to come together. Your power is mainly supposed to come from your legs and core, not just your arms. You can bring your pace down in two ways - either by pushing off/pulling harder or by slowing down your recovery time [simultaneously upping your strokes per minute]. For me, I found that keeping my strokes per minute on the lower end and taking a sufficient recovery (slower on the way back down to the front of the rower) allowed me to have a stronger stroke which in turn made my pace (per 500 meters) drop. 

After the second 10 minutes of rowing we hopped off again and did side lunges followed by push-ups to side plank and another stretch. 

The last part of class was probably my favorite part. Eric said that now that we successfully rowed in sync it was time to let us go our own speed. He turned the lights out and told us to see how far we could go in 4 minutes. Having the lights out definitely allowed me to block everything else out and just focus on finding a rhythm that worked for my body. 

For the 4 minutes, Eric walked around encouraging people and trying to get them to give a little extra push.  Lucky for me, Eric stopped by my rower with 40 seconds left, and the extra motivation saw my pace drop to the lowest that it did the entire class - 2:19. To be fair, there were plenty of people going a hell of a lot fast than me, but I was happy to see that I could give a little more than I thought. 

At the end of 4 minutes Eric told us to look at how far we had gone, and add 50 meters (or more) to that number.  That's how far we were trying to go in the next 4 minutes. UGH. Then he gave a motivational but not at all cheesy or over-the-top speech about setting goals and learning more about yourself the loftier the goal. 

I didn't do as well as I would have liked, but I did add 30 or so meters to my first 4 minutes. 

Sadly, a few stretches and we were done. I wanted to keep going! 

It was definitely a full-body workout and I definitely sweat, though I've been sweatier in other classes.  

Row House Full Body is the class I took, but they also offer Row House Core (where the time off the rower focuses on abs only) and Row House Express (only rowing for 35 minutes). There's also Row House Endurance which is a 50 minute class with more rowing drills. 

The music Eric played during the class was GREAT. When Geronimo came on it was hard for me not to erg-dance. Is that a thing? 

At some point during the class I realized that each machine was customized with a clever quote, which I probably enjoyed more than I should have.  "Stroke of genius." "Don't resist the erg." There is nothing I like more than a fitness-themed pun. 

We all wiped down our machines at the end of class, got some high fives from Eric, and were on our way.  They had two foam rollers in the back of the room which I appreciated, and probably should have used, but I waited until I got back to my apartment to roll it out. 

You've probably never thought about taking a group rowing class. But I think you should. 

Row House has two locations - one at 555 West 59th Street (between West End and Amsterdam Avenues) and one on the Upper East Side (come on NP people!) at 406 East 91st Street (between First and York Avenues).  

Row House also is awesome on Instagram and likes my pictures, holllllla. But really, having a fitness studio that gets to know their clients is awesome, and it was very obvious that a lot of the people in the class are regulars. 

They offer a great beginner package - 3 classes for $75 (single classes are $35).