Last month, we teamed up with bloggers Toronto Blondie and Food Goals TO for the first ever SCULLHOUSE Rowing thROWdown. Read on for our recap of this awesome event and find out how you can join the crew next time.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably tried rowing on your own from time to time in order to switch up your cardio routine. It seems simple enough, just pull the bar towards you and then return it to the starting position, right? Wrong! When performed correctly, rowing uses 85% of the muscles in your body and burns more calories per minute than cycling, running, or swimming. We recently got the chance to learn the proper rowing technique and get the total body workout experience at SCULLHOUSE Rowing, a group rowing studio located just around the corner from the St. Lawrence Market.
We were there to conquer their first annual Fall ThROWdown Challenge hosted by the studio for members and non members. In teams of three, we were to complete an intense workout at SCULLHOUSE rowing consisting of four rounds where the meters rowed per team were tallied at the end of each round. The team with the most meters rowed at the end of the 55-minute class won amazing prizes from the sponsors, which included Koldtec, RYU, lululemon, and Impact Kitchen.
The class was led by studio founder Kristin Jeffery and group instructor Riley, and it began with a lesson on how to properly hook yourself into one of their Concept2 Rowing Machines, or “Ergs.” Every class includes a dynamic warm-up focusing on proper form all while following the same pace as the instructor as they build up the RPM to a steady row. Although the RPM is the same for everyone throughout the entire class (as part of their “row as one” concept), how much strength you put behind every pull increases your distance rowed.
We started the workout with a mat challenge where one team member at a time had to rotate on and off their erg in order to complete a set amount of burpees, squats and pushups while the other teammates were rowing along with the instructor. Next was a seven minute pyramid circuit that focused on keeping our form while increasing our speed. Round three was a shorter racing circuit followed by our fourth and final round of a four minute full body burnout. Once every member of our team completed a set amount of jack hammers, squats, and military style push ups we could get back on our erg to row as fast as we possibly could until the end of the time limit.
Kristin and Riley did a great job switching between clearly instructing what pace we should be maintaining, and encouraging every person in that room to dig a little deeper with every pull. There was a strong team vibe, even in a competitive setting.
After the event, we got the chance to connect with Kristin – who, in addition to being the studio founder, is also a former Canadian National Team rower – to find out more about the future of rowing in Toronto.
Well TO Do: Why did you decide to bring group rowing to Toronto?
Kristin Jeffery: Rowing is such great exercise and is incredibly efficient for people who are busy (which is the vast majority of us). As a lawyer [Ed note: before opening her studio, Kristin was a corporate/commercial litigation lawyer here in Toronto], I was seeing people suffering from inactivity and long hours sitting. I knew rowing would be of great benefit for them. In as little as 45 minutes, you can get a total body workout.
WTD: What are the benefits of SCULLHOUSE rowing? How is it different than spinning or other forms of cardio?
KJ: Rowing is not only a cardiovascular workout, but you are strengthening over 85% of the muscles in the body, including a lot of emphasis on the core. Unlike some forms of cardio that do not involve strengthening the upper body, rowing is naturally a total body workout. Rowing utilizes not only the legs, but also the core, back, shoulders and arms. You will get the benefit of a high-intensity workout while participating in a low-impact activity.
WTD: What does the Classic Row workout at SCULLHOUSE Rowing entail?
KJ: The Classic Row class begins with a warm-up and technique on the rowing machine. The workout consists of several “pieces” on the erg (what rowers call timed work on the indoor rowing machine). The pieces start at about 8-10 minutes and get progressively shorter and higher in intensity as the workout progresses. Separating the pieces on the erg, we do mat work with body weight exercises and small dumbbells. Because the workout is always changing, the time goes by very quickly.
WTD: Can someone still sign up for classes if they have no rowing experience?
KJ: Absolutely! Most of our rowers have no previous rowing experience when they come to their first class. This is exactly why we offer the 2-week unlimited package for new rowers – so they can take their time learning the technique and then gradually add more power as they feel more comfortable with the stroke.
WTD: What’s exciting you most about the Toronto wellness scene right now?
KJ: I’m particularly excited about the mindfulness trend. More and more we are recognizing the importance of not only physical health, but also mental health and how these two aspects of wellbeing are so interconnected.