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?

Head Games: Tips and Tricks to Beat the Long or Hard Indoor Rowing Workout

Updated June 16, 2020


Let’s face it, we all have days where we have to drag ourselves through a workout.  Training for rowers is no different than training for runners or cyclists or any other sport.  Sometimes you just need to find ways to make the meters tick off faster.


Concept2 has a blog post with rowing tips to help you keep the flywheel spinning.  Check that one out.


Here are some of our favorite endurance tips and strategies:


– Count strokes to get through the tough periods of the workout (from @thepeteplan on Twitter)


– On a long row, do every third 500 meters faster to break things up (from @jasonhewitt2 on Twitter)


– If the thought of rowing 10k in one shot overwhelms you, break it into smaller pieces and add in off-erg work in between.  Our Workouts page has lots of ways to do that.


– Take your mind off the monitor and focus on your indoor rowing technique – back straight, swinging from 11:00-1:00, chest up coming into the catch, one count on the drive, two on the recovery, etc.  Need a refresher on rowing technique tips?  Try this video from Concept2 UK.


– Up the intensity – Working harder makes the meters tick by faster and can stop you from focusing on them so much


– Have a split range you’re going to keep through the workout and do whatever it takes to hold it (increase or decrease your intensity, stroke rating etc.)


– Use the pace boat on the Performance Monitor to help you hold your split. Set it on the pace you don’t want to go under. Beat that little guy!


– Play a numbers game – work towards “fun” meter numbers like 4444, 5678, 12345, etc.


Ok maybe we’re a little crazy, but it works for us!  How do you get yourself through a tough workout?

Rocking the Row: Music for Indoor Rowing Workouts

Great article from the American Council on Exercise about how to pick music for your fitness class. Good timing, too, since Shape magazine included a rowing playlist in their January 2012 issue. ACE says there are four factors you should consider in putting together the playlist for your class, and they are all important when you’re teaching indoor rowing:

1. Role of the Music: ACE says to begin by looking at how important music is in your class. In rowing classes, as in Spinning or most anything else, it can be a great tool for building intensity.  Keep in mind, though, that it’s important that people not get so lost in the music that they forget their rowing technique – or miss out on the chance to hear the melody the group rowing class creates when all the flywheels are whirring together.

2. Musical Phrasing: ACE points out that beats per minute (BPM) is the primary component of musical phrasing. For most people, rowing workouts work best when they’re paced at no more than 25-26 strokes per minute, which equates to music in the range of 110 to 130 BPM.

3. Music Selection: Music can make or break your rowing class or rowing workout – We all know that cranking the tunes can help you hit that PR or break through a motivational wall.  For indoor rowing classes, familiar songs with great lyrics are fine for the warmup and cooldown, but for the meat of the workout we prefer instrumental music (Spinning music is a great resource) that makes it easier for people to stay focused on the work and their rowing technique.

4. Volume is the last key factor in ACE’s article, not just for the music but for the instructor. In rowing it’s at least as important to get the mic right for you so you’re heard over the flywheels as it is to adjust the volume on the songs.

So are you ready to rock and row?  Here’s a 45-minute playlist to get you started, one of our favorites for learn-to-row classes and general audiences:

Rise                                                 Herb Alpert
Something Got Me Started        Simply Red
Rock Your Body                           Brainbug (remix)
Bom Bom Bom                             Living Things
Bright Lights Bigger City          Cee Lo Green
Spirit in the Sky                           Norman Greenbaum
I Like the Way                             Bodyrockers
That Feeling                                DJ Chus
Got to Give It Up                         Marvin Gaye
Use Me                                          Bill Withers

What’s your favorite song to row to?  Got a playlist you’d like to share?  We’d love to see it!

Concept2 Indoor Rowing Foundations Coming to Florida — and more — in 2012

Flyer for indoor rowing trainings After getting more requests than we can even keep track of, we’re starting 2012 off right, bringing indoor rowing instructor certification back to the Sunshine State!  Our host will be Rowland Rowing Studio in Juno Beach (Palm Beach County).

The master instructor for the full-day training on Feb. 25 will be UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, a former US national team rower with more than 30 years of indoor rowing experience.  Other workshops on the books include Chicago (at RowFit Chicago) on Jan. 21, Montclair (NJ) High School on Jan. 28 (with Master Instructor Chad Fleschner) on Jan. 28 and Woodbridge, VA (at Gold’s Gym with Master Instructor Angela Hart on March 23.

Check here for our training calendar updates, to learn more about our indoor rowing instructor training opportunities or to register for a workshop near you.

We’re planning on bringing trainings to many other new locations in 2012, so contact us if you’re interested in hosting or would like to see a workshop your area.  Hosting is a great deal for facilities – you get a free registration with every eight paid participants, plus you save on travel costs to send your instructors to other cities.

All we ask in exchange is that you help us get the word out to your local network.  We’ll provide a promotional poster and anything else you need, including cool photos of other trainings that you can use on your website if you like.



Olympic Medalist Sheila Taormina to Offer Clinic for Swimmers, Triathletes

Houghton, MI (Feb. 16, 2011) – Olympic gold medalist Sheila Taormina, the only woman ever to have competed in four consecutive Summer Games in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and pentathlon), is bringing her unique experience and coaching to students, swimmers and triathletes in Houghton in April.

Taormina, who won gold in swimming at the Atlanta Olympic Games, will offer a clinic focused on the vital aspect of the freestyle stroke – the underwater high elbow catch position that is the source of propulsion for a swimmer.  Through a mix of dryland and in-water work, participants in the 2.5-hour session on April 19 will understand first hand what it means to “feel” the water, as well as how to develop the strength and flexibility that is required for fast swimming.

The clinic is an excellent opportunity for swimmers of all levels as well as athletes working on their triathlon swimming for events like the Aspirus Keweenaw Copperman Triathlon 2011, or anyone looking to perfect their swimming stroke and get personalized coaching from one of the best swimmers and triathletes in the world.

The workshop, which is sponsored by UCanRow2 and the Houghton Schools, will be held at Houghton High School from 6-8:30 PM on April 19.  Registration is limited to 20 participants and is being processed through

In addition to the clinic, Taormina, who speaks to school, community and business groups the world over, will speak to Houghton Middle School students on April 19 and will have an after school pool session for students.  She will discuss how she became a champion by getting an education, making the most of her available (limited) resources and never giving up.  Her story offers an important message of working hard and staying focused on your goals, as well as physical fitness and obesity prevention.

Houghton Swim Clinic

When: April 19, 6-8:30 p.m.

Where: Houghton High School, 1603 Gundlach Road
Houghton, MI 49931-2699

Cost: $85, register at (includes a copy of Sheila’s book, Call the Suit)

Ask the Coach: Correcting Others’ Bad Rowing

UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, an indoor and on-water rowing coach with nearly 20 years of experience, answers your questions about rowing technique, rower workouts, teaching rowing and training for rowing.

Q: I row at my gym, and the “erging” technique some people have is driving me batty! I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m no expert, but how do I tactfully correct their form so they don’t get hurt and I don’t have to watch it anymore?

A:  This is the downside of the growth in indoor rowing’s popularity.  People see rowing on TV or featured online, and want to try it themselves.  The basics of rowing technique are pretty simple, but yes there is a trick to it.  People who jump on the rowing machine at the gym often don’t know enough about proper rowing technique to get the most from the machine.  As a total-body exercise, rowing is a fabulous way to make that slimmer, fitter you a reality.  You’ll get there faster with the right technique.

If you see bad rowing happening, approach the facility’s staff and ask if they have certified indoor rowing instructors who can intervene. If they do not, as a facility member you should encourage them to get their group fitness instructors and personal trainers certified to teach rowing. Certified instructors are much better equipped to provide workouts that are safe, fun and effective, and it’s the best way for the facility to make sure it gets the most from its investment in rowing equipment.

There’s more information on our rowing certification here, and our latest listing of trainings is always available on our rowing certification calendar.

Got another sticky question you’d like our coach to tackle? We’re game! Post it below in the comments and we’ll get back to you.