Crash Course: Row House offers three different 50 minute classes: full body, core, and endurance. Each combine low-impact cardio circuits with floor intervals to deliver one scorchtastic workout for any fitness level. Click here for a complete schedule of upcoming classes.[left]where: 555 W 59th Street
bring: water bottle
perks: towels, shower
sweat score: 7 out of 10[/left][right]wear: spandex bottoms
cost: first class $20 | drop-in $40 [/right][line]
I won’t be making any headlines when I say the indoor rowing machine has become a bit of a fitness celebrity lately. It plays a starting role in a certain hit TV show (I’m looking at you, Frank Underwood) and is the darling of crossfit boxes and boutique studios around the country. New York City is no exception. I’ve counted five row-centric crashes and plan to check them all off my list, one sweaty stroke at a time.
First on my list: Row House.
The studio is located in a shiny new building on the Upper West Side, tucked all the way over near the Hudson River. It is also the home of EVF, a functional training and crossfit gym with another location on the Upper East Side. I crashed their outdoor fitness class last weekend and can’t wait to share that with you all next week!
Row House is on the first floor of the two story complex. The friendly folks at the front desk will go over the standard waiver with you and provide a quick tour of the space when you arrive. I say quick because, aside from the reception area, a few bathroom/showers, and the rowing studio, that’s all there is to see. Like the workout, it’s compact and efficient.
Crasher tip: If possible, I recommend changing into workout clothes before you arrive. I noticed a long wait for the two available bathrooms, which also serve as changing rooms and showers for the before and after class crowds.
The rowing room is dark and industrial. Like a place that’s built for hard work and sweat. The lights are dimmed low, the floor is black, the rowing machines are black, and the artwork on the wall – aside from the slashes of yellow in the Row House logo – was also black. It’s minimalist and efficient. I’m sensing a theme here.
Each machine comes with a fresh towel ready for you to use. Grab ahold of this and keep it handy – you’ll need it. If you are attending the full body class, you’ll also need to pick up a few weighted steel bells to bring over to your station for use later in the class.
We started class with a pick drill, which breaks down the mechanics of a rowing stroke into easy to follow (and easy to learn) segments. I did this during the learn to row program in DC – it’s legit. Our instructor, Rachel, came around to inspect our form and offer advice. Straighter back here. Less arms there.
I was really happy to see an emphasis on technique and form right off the bat. We’ve all seen (and heck, been) that person hunched over a rowing machine, just trying to get it over with. It’s
bad terrible for your back. So two thumbs up for Row House setting us straight (literally).
After a brief warm up, the music got louder and we got down to work on a few sustained cardio circuits. Before I could get tired of being on the rowing machine (let’s just say those seats aren’t La-Z-Boy quality), we hopped off for a round of squats, pushups, and other calisthenics. It wasn’t particularly overwhelming, but just enough to shake off the rower a bit.
And then it was back to the rower, for a round of intense intervals. And then off for a segment using the weighted steel bells. And then back on for one final round of three, two minute sprints. We were encouraged to try and maintain or beat our total distance during each two minute round, which sounds great but is stinkin’ hard at the very end of class. Luckily, Rachel’s playlist was solid and somehow Beyonce and I found enough shimmy to make it through the last round.
- The particular class I went to had some ebbs and flows in energy level. There were times when things seemed slow and a little disorganized, particularly during the portions off of the rower. I want to go back and give it another go, because I think that’s not always the case.
- Sorry spin bikes, but rowing machines are a much harder workout. I love the full body effort, the way it affects your posture, and the satisfying burn in your legs, abs, and arms.
- Adding weighted exercises in between circuits on the rower? Yowza!
- Showers. Anything to make that gym to real life transition easier gets a gold star in my book.
Have you been to a class recently that used rowing machines? Tell me about it and I’ll add it to my list!
This post is not sponsored by Row House, but they did generously waive my class fee. All opinions are authentic and 100% mine. Thanks for reading!