The Ultimate Erging Playlist

Indoor rowing classMusic for rowing classes or a great rowing playlist is always a big topic of discussion around the UCanRow2 office and Concept2 instructor trainings.  We usually tell people to aim for workout music with little to no lyrics and relatively slow beats per minute, usually in the 120 bpm range or slower.  Indoor cycling music is often ideal for workout playlists, as long as it allows you or your students time to really focus on their rowing technique and not get so lost in the tunes that proper rowing form goes out the window.

All of that being said, sometimes you have a really long steady state workout in front of you, or you need a musical pick-me-up to shake off the day, or you just want to get your groove on.  For all of that, enter Rowing Journal, which has published a list of 90 minutes of erging tunes they love.  Beyond just giving you the list of songs, their Ultimate Erging Playlist goes into some detail explaining which songs you might put at which point in a workout, be it a 2k test or a steady state 10k.

Rowing workout playlists are, of course, a very personal thing but we love the thinking behind this piece … plus it made us laugh!  For example:

“First and Foremost: If it reminds anyone of the dance routines young Spice Girl wannabes made up at primary school then it is not
acceptable erg music. Ever.

“High ratings must always be accompanied by up tempo, heavy rhythm music, ideally Classic/ Hard Rock or Wagnerian Opera. There is
a feeling of invincibility as you complete your 2K PB to the inspiring sounds of Ride of the Valkyries!

“Rap has all the musicality of a ringing telephone and is easily dismissed from this discussion. In fact, the only R&B allowed is R Kelly’s
World’s Greatest.”

Check out the whole article, it’s great reading! For those of you who can’t wait to reorganize your iPods though, here’s the Rowing Journal list (Personally, we’d rather stick hot needles in our eyes than row to Livin’ on a Prayer yet again, but there’s something here for pretty much everybody):

Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Come Follow Me – The Answer
Party Hard – Andrew WK
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Layla – Derek and the Dominoes (Good Rhythm setter)
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Fans – Kings of Leon
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
Smooth – Santana
Under Pressure – Queen
Baba O’Riley – The Who
Where The Street Have No Name – U2
Sunshine On Your Love – Cream
Peaceful, Easy Feeling – The Eagles
All Right Now – Free
Man’s World – James Brown
Grace – Jeff Buckley
Mars – Holst Planet Suite
Jupiter – Holst Planet Suite
Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

What’s on your playlist for this weekend?  Tell us in the comments and we’ll try it in class next week!

Bob Harper’s Six Weight Loss Rules

Say what you will about The Biggest Loser (and we’ve definitely got our opinions about the show and the extreme levels of exercise it prescribes, along with the quality of the rowing training), trainer Bob Harper has had great success helping people on and off the show lose weight over the years.

He’s out today with a new book — and judging by how much he’s out there promoting it already he must be needing all his CrossFit strength just to get through it!  He was on NBC’s Today show this morning giving a quick overview of his rules.  Watch the video link and you’ll get the gist.

Anyway he’s got some good, commonsense ideas about what he calls the “non-negotiable” rules for losing weight, including drinking lots of water, eating lots of protein, and going to bed hungry (not eating within three hours of bedtime).  It’ll be interesting to see if what he’s done is also compatible with the Paleo diet, which is a such a big part of so many CrossFitters’ life.

Anybody planning on reading the book? How do you see this fitting into the lifestyle of rowers who want to lose weight? Is it realistic with early mornings, heavy-duty workouts and intense erg sessions?  Tell us in the comments.

Infographic: Down and Dirty Guide to Social Media

Admit it.  You could be spending more time promoting yourself and your business with social media.  We all could.  But there’s a lot of water there to be rowed with only so many hours in the day.  As we often tell people in our Programming Intensive course, some involvement in social media — well executed — is better than no involvement in social media.

The business consultant network Zintro has looked at the research and pulled together this social networking infographic to help you decide when to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ and what information to share on each.


In a nutshell:

  • Facebook is best for more personal interactions with your contacts
  • Twitter is a good resource for quick updates in real time, monitoring the chatter about your brand and industry/sport, and finding potential members/client
  • LinkedIn is where you want to be to showcase your professional side and highlight your accomplishments (more your awards than your PRs)
  • Google+ is a good place to start or have more in-depth conversations than you can on Twitter and with people you’re not yet connected to, as is required on Facebook.

Of course you can get a lot more involved than this in social media marketing for your fitness business, but this will help you hit the highlights.

Where are you marketing your fitness business online?  Share your links here!

Your Blueprint for Fitness Social Media Success … and Sanity

We hear comments like this in our trainings all the time (or see it in the eyes of those who don’t dare say it out loud): “You want me to work really hard at being a good rower myself, a good rowing instructor / personal trainer / CrossFit coach / pied piper/Energizer bunny for rowing who takes the sport out to my community … AND you want me to be out there with it on the Web and in social media?  What are you, crazy???”

NOT crazy!  As anybody who’s attended our Programming Intensive  knows, social media and fitness marketing essential to your offline, in-gym/box success.  People will check you out on Google long before they’ll cross your physical threshold.  They need to find you online AND find the same “person” there that they’ll get at your facility.  That’s the way to get people in your classes … and more importantly keep them there.

You can be as busy as you want online.  At UCanRow2 we have one person who spends most of her time promoting our activities there.  That’s overwhelming for most, we know and we’ll do a post soon about how to work your way gradually into this area.  In the meantime though, check out this awesome social media planner from Hubspot that will give you a good start on how to be effective while keeping it all under control.  The blueprint runs you through what do do Monday through Friday to stay up to date on what’s happening in your business, put your own spin on it, then get it out on Facebook, Twitter, your blog if you have one, etc.  Not blogging yet?  Think about it, you should at least have that in your sights for down the road. Substitute another content-generating activity like Facebook posts until you’re ready.

What’s your biggest fear about social media?  Your biggest success?  Share in the comments!

Facebook Timeline Toolkit

For those of you where were hoping against hope that Facebook would change its mind and not implement the Timeline, your erg has run out of chain: Timeline went into effect for all business pages on March 30; there’s no going back now (unless of course they change their minds again). The good news is it’s not as hard as you might think to convert to Timeline, and there are lots of advantages to it, particularly for activities that are visually appealing … like rowing!

The inbound marketing firm Hubspot (which has a blog you should be following if you’re at all interested in social media marketing for fitness) has published a helpful infographic to take you through the basics.  Download their free ebook for more information on how to make Timeline work for you.  Need a cheat sheet with photo sizes and the like? Dreamgrow has put one together.

Here are some of the key changes:

  • No more default “fan-gating” pages that require people to like your page before they can see your content (to me this is great news, I’d much rather have people join my online community because they can see what’s there and like it)
  • You can spotlight up to three icons on your cover page, along with About and Photos.  Check Concept2’s Facebook page for some nice ideas.
  • You have the option to pin content to make it visible to people for longer – that only lasts for 7 days though and then you have to create a new post and pin it
  • A new “Message” feature allows users to contact your business page in much the same way they can contact your personal page (instead of having to write on your wall)

It’s a Visual, Visual, Visual World

Timeline is definitely changing the way things work on Facebook, making it more visual and requiring that you post more good content for starters, but that’s where the Internet is headed anyway: You can barely take a step in social media online and not run into articles about the growth of Instagram, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Tumblr, all of which put heavy emphasis on visuals.  And then there’s photo-friendly Google+, which is growing slowly but surely and more importantly has a huge influence on Google search results.

Much of this is also influenced by the astounding adoption of mobile and smartphone applications, coupled with our ever-shrinking attention spans.  Whatever the reason, it’s a good time to get out there and learn to take at least some basic photos (and video).

What do you think of the new Timeline?  Love it? Hate it? What’s working for you? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments.

And more food for thought: Report: Studies Split on Whether Facebook Timeline Helps Brands



Flywheel Frenzy! Indoor Rowing Training for Home Users and More

Fine tuning Web technique with Concept2 master instructor Terry SmytheIf you’re a home or gym user of the Concept2 rowing machine, we’ve got something new coming just for you: A half-day training that will get you tuned up and ready for new (or renewed) action on the world’s #1 indoor rower!  The workshop is part of our Flywheel Frenzy event at Owens Community College in Toledo, OH on April 12-13.

Join us for Indoor Rowing Foundations for Home Users from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, April 13.  You’ll spend a comprehensive morning tuning up and learning new ways to make the most of the Concept2 Indoor Rower.  We’ll focus on:
– Optimizing your rowing technique, including personalized video critique
– Showing you how to keep your machine in tip-top working order
– Showing you new things you can do with the monitor
– Giving you a slew of new workouts, and
– Taking you on a tour of the Concept 2 website’s resources.
– Bonus: Meet the SkiErg!

Registration for the course is $95.  Just note your course and fee on the registration form.

Want more?  Join us the night before for a master class with Concept2 Master Instructor Terry Smythe from 6:30-8:30.  You’ll spend two hours in OCC’s fitness playground, combining the rower, SkiErg and indoor cycling with other equipment like TRX and free weights.

Register now: $45 ($15 for students) Note your course and fee on the registration form.

And for those who are teaching others or working with clients  on the rowing machine, we’re offering our Programming Intensive on Friday afternoon from 2-5 pm.  We’ll show you how to set yourself apart from the competition by mixing up your workouts with on/off erg work. Combine ergs, TRX straps, free weights and more to create a fat-blasting workout your members will rave about.  Have your rowing technique checked by an expert.  Learn how to use social media to get people into your classes – and keep them there.

Registration fee: $115

Here’s the location for the course:

Owens Community College Toledo Campus
Alumni Hall
30335 Oregon Road
Perrysburg, OH 43551

Questions?  Post them to the comments.

Biggest Loser Rowing: Get Certified and Be the Biggest Winner

Concept2 instructor certificationIt was a big night of rowing last night on The Biggest Loser.  It’s about time!  First the contestants had to row a 10k piece for their challenge, then the last chance workouts included a number of meters, too, most courtesy of recent CrossFit convert and Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper.

This kind of exposure would be great for indoor rowing (although they should have been on Concept2 ergs) EXCEPT for two things:

1. The contestants’ technique left a whole lot to be desired and in some cases was downright bad and potentially dangerous.

2. The rowing machine was portrayed only as a torture tool, even leaving one contestant panting on the ground with a medic looking over her.

Those of us who row for a living or for love or for fitness know that one of the great things about the erg is that it responds to you and your effort level: The harder you row, the more resistance; back off and the handle is easier to pull.  And it is one of the best exercises for weight loss.  There is no better workout for total-body non-impact cardio fitness that can lead to significant weight loss.

BUT – to get good results on the rowing machine you have to have good technique, and the best way to learn it is from a certified rowing instructor.  The basic rowing stroke is easy to learn but, like golf, the quest for the perfect stroke is eternal. And if you or one of your clients is overweight or obese it’s even more important to do it right.  What’s the quickest way to get there?  GET CERTIFIED!

What did you think of last night’s episode? A good or bad thing for rowing?


Fitness Marketer’s Rant: No More Naked Videos!


Video camera on rowing machine

Naked videos?  What?  Are we talking about cyber indecency here?  No, but this is almost as big a crime in online and social media marketing: Posting video without any accompanying text that neither search engines nor us mere mortals can see and use to decide if your video is what we’re looking for and want to watch.

It’s coming up more and more lately, on YouTube, Vimeo, websites, everywhere.  Video – a lot of it great stuff that you should probably be watching – that is posted with a headline, maybe, but nothing more.  Ragan Communications raised the issue today, high on a list of video mistakes to avoid.

This is true too in the fitness world, where an abundance of fitness marketing videos promise to show you the latest personal training exercise, CrossFit WOD or fitness product.  All good, but how are people supposed to find your stuff if you don’t guide them there?

Search engines – and that is still where most people begin their online experience (sorry Facebook) can’t hear or see your videos.  You have to give them search-optimized text to help them help you. The Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion Tool is a good place to start for this, pick some terms that are general to your industry (“fitness,” “best exercise”) and zero in on those that are highly targeted to what you do (“rowing machine workouts,” “2k training plan”).

Fitness professionals with businesses to promote are smart to use video as a central part of their package – YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google and gets 4 billion views per day, after all.  Just never forget that to be really effective on the Web you need to optimize ALL of your content for search, not just your latest blog or website post.

What do you think?  What’s your favorite video to post to promote your fitness business, and what terms do you use to optimize it?


Is Using Calories to Track Your Workout a Good Bet?


Three rowers working hard at the Concept2 indoor rowing instructor certification at Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center

We often hear people say they go into the gym with a goal of burning X calories on the cardio equipment, be it on the treadmill, rowing machine, elliptical or in a CrossFit WOD.  And we often tell them, that’s great, as long as you’re a 5’10”, 150-lb. man.  If not, you’re probably getting inaccurate information.


According to an article from the Huffington Post, research at San Francisco State University has (re)confirmed the unreliability of calorie monitors on exercise machines, and says they can be as far off as 25 percent.  The story quotes Mark Gorelick, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at San Francisco State University says that if you’re desperate to know how many calories you’re burning in a workout you’re better off using one of the products you can wear on your body (like FitBit or Bodymedia Fit), which are more accurate because they use many more parameters to calculate your calorie burn than a cardio machine monitor.

In our experience, though, wearable monitors are notoriously finicky about calculating calorie burn and effort in a cycling or indoor rowing workout, just as they are about calculating “steps” taken in a workout.  Our advice, ignore the monitor on the machine and use the wearable monitor if it’s a motivator, but use the sweat on your shirt and the fit of your clothes to help you track your fitness progress – not the readout on any machine.

Shape Magazine Joins the Indoor Rowing Revolution

We love, love, LOVE that Shape Magazine is so taken with the rowing machine (and a Concept2, even better!).  Their latest tweet on the subject: “OBSESSED with the rowing machine! Works your whole body & cardio? Why weren’t we doing this sooner?”

Better late than never we say, and glad to have you!!

Shape included in their January issue a kick-butt rowing workout from none other than Olympic medalist Anna Cummins, who’s now a master instructor for Concept2 CrossFit Rowing.  The 20-minute workout gives you target splits, stroke ratings and times that will put you through your paces for sure (check out the rowing playlist that Shape put together, too).

One thing to bear in mind about that workout though: If your 20s are in the rearview mirror or you’re not super fit or experienced at rowing you may have a hard time hitting the targets in Anna’s workout.

So don’t worry if you don’t hit  numbers right off the bat (or ever).  Try to stick to her recommended stroke ratings (note: you may find that rowing slower is a lot harder than rowing faster) but don’t be afraid to back off on the split targets and stroke rating if you need to.  If your heart is pumping and your rowing technique is good you’re still getting an awesome total-body low impact workout that will tone your body, torch calories and improve your fitness, regardless of your current fitness level.

As we like to say around here, Rowing is for Every Body!

Want help to row better?  Attend a Concept2 Indoor Rowing Foundations indoor rowing certification or find an Approved Concept2 Indoor Rowing Instructor in your area.

What’s your favorite rowing workout?