By Tom Woodman
Regional Manager, Seattle Market Area
Because of my background, I am often asked which rower is the best. I have trained extensively on rowers over the years, in preparation for the World Championships, Olympics, Masters rowing events, and as a Masters Rowing Coach. There are many options out there to choose from. Here is an overview of what I recommend:
Water Based Rowers: While the ascetics seem appealing at first, the disadvantages far outweigh the appeal. The first problem is the difficulty in setting a proper resistance level. There is a slight increase in resistance as you row faster, but the range is much smaller than on an air/fan based rower. And the hassle involved in adding/removing water to further change the resistance level is huge! This means many people cannot find an appropriate level of resistance, and interval training with all its benefits is difficult or impossible. Then there is the whole issue of water maintenance (you need to use distilled water not tap water which clouds up, the need to add chlorine tablets to stop algae growth, and the need to change the water and clean out the tank at least annually).
Air Fan Rowers: These are a big improvement over the water based rowers, and what the national team trains on these days. They offer a huge range of resistance levels and require virtually no maintenance (and no water leaks to worry about). The first of these to reach wide popularity was the Concept2 rower. However, I like the BodyCraft VR400 rower even better than the Concept2 for the following reasons:
- Magnetic Resistance in addition to the air resistance. This makes it easier to change resistance, and now you have built in interval programs. (Virtually every piece of equipment you see in a club has programs, because of the many benefits offered by these interval workouts: less boring, better results in less time, increased strength benefits, quicker weightloss,….)
- Strap vs Chain. During a rowing stroke, you are most vulnerable to injury at the “catch” position (when your legs are fully compressed, back and arms fully extended). In a boat, when you “catch” the water in this position there is a little “give” in the water, and in the oar as it flexes. On the C2 rower you are pulling on a chain which has no flex, and that jerk of picking up the flywheel is hard on your low back. Doing that repetitively is an injury risk. I prefer the strap on the BodyCraft which is more forgiving, and easier on your back.
- Easier to fold up and move. At 8’ in length, it is nice to be able to quickly break down the rower and move it out of the way. The BodyCraft quickly folds up and can be rolled to a new location. Moving the C2 is much more difficult as it needs to be broken into two pieces and carried.
If you want to know more about rowers, come down to the Bellevue store and see me today!