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Rowing for Health and Wellness

Rowing techniques have been around for centuries and have always been a part of human history, especially for fisherman hunters. Rowing, as we know it today, began in Ancient Egypt as a way to transport goods on the Nile and the method was soon adopted by the Ancient Roman Empire. However, when it comes to its use as a great form of health and fitness as well as a competitive sport, it didn't become prominent until 1715 when a group of watermen competed in a busy shipping lane which grew to over 40,000 people competing in these races called regattas.

Benefits of Rowing

Rowing is a great sport to get your body and mind in shape because it offers little to no physical contact and is malleable enough to be done either alone or as part of a team. Rowing and sculling is also flexible because it may seem like you can only practice outside when the weather is nice, but as it turns out, you can practice outside of the water too! With the use of a rowing machine inside during the cooler months or when the weather doesn't work in your favor so you can reap the health benefits all year round. Some of the most common health benefits of rowing are:

  • Improved cardiovascular health

  • Improved mental clarity

  • Increased stamina

  • Increased muscle mass

  • Great back strengthening

  • Helps with developing healthy breathing techniques

  • Helps to decrease stress

Rowing Terms

Rowing has a large collection of lingo that's specific to the sport. When you're new to the sport, some of the terms can be quite confusing, but it's not hard to become an expert in the language of rowing. Here are a few rowing terms you need to know.

  • Blade: The flat part of the oar that goes into the water.

  • Bow: The forward section of the boat. It is the first part of the boat to cross the finish line in a race.

  • Catch: The beginning of a rowing stroke. The catch is when the blade is set in the water

  • Coxswain: The person who steers the shell. They are considered the crew's coach when they are on the water.

  • Deck: The part of the shell at the bow and stern covered with cloth or a thin plastic.

  • Drive: The middle part of a rowing stroke. This is when the blade is pulled through the water.

  • Ergometer: It's often called an "erg" by those in the rowing community. This is a rowing machine that mimics the rowing motion and is great for indoor practice.

  • Finish: The final part of the rowing stroke. This occurs when the blade comes out of the water.

  • Gate: The bar that keeps the oar in place

  • Hull: The actual boat. It can also be called a "shell."

  • Lightweight: A class of rowers; there's a maximum weight limit for the lightweight class that every rower on the boat must be below.

  • Port: Left side of the boat while facing towards the direction of the movement.

  • Rigger: A triangular-shaped metal device bolted to the side of the boat to hold the oars.

  • Run: The distance the shell moves during one stroke.

  • Starboard: The right side of the boat while facing toward the direction of the movement.

  • Stern: The rear of the boat. This is the direction the rowers are facing.

  • Straight: A boat without a coxswain.

  • Stretcher: Where the rower's feet go.

  • Stroke: The rower who sits closest to the stern.

  • Sweep: A discipline of rowing where rowers use only one oar.

Getting Started and Training

Rowing and sculling are two different techniques and which method is better depends on which one works best for you. Rowing is a team sport that involves a person called a coxswain who yells out commands as the team needs to row in tandem. In rowing, each rower only has one oar so there is always a bow pair and a stern pair and they must work together to row the boat. In sculling, each of the rowers has two oars to contend with and that's why it doesn't require a coxswain. If this is a sport you'd like to do on your own, sculling is the better option because you'll need two oars to get anywhere otherwise you'd just be going in circles.