My winter exercise of choice is the rowing machine

I am a warm weather guy. Fortunately I live in a so so climate, so I m able to bike during most of spring and fall, and I m always on my bike in the summer. Once the temperature goes below 40 degrees, however, I spend as little time outside as possible. In other words, I don t ski, I don t snowshoe, I don t ice skate, and I stay inside and stay warm. But after spending around nine months of the year biking, I don t mind taking a break and spending the remaining three months on a rowing machine instead.

My winter exercise of choice is the rowing machine. I m not talking about the rowing machines you find in most gyms and health clubs, the kind where you use both hands to pull on a single handle attached to a cable that goes around a flywheel. Although those are great, if that is all you have access to, than I say go for it. I am talking about a real rowing machine such as a Kettler or Stamina, a rowing machine with dual arms and piston resistance.

With a machine with two independent arms, you really feel like you re actually rowing. Rowing also exercises a great many of your muscles. Depending on how you position your hands on the arms, you are able to work on either your biceps or triceps, and of course your stomach, calves and thighs get quite a workout as well. And depending on the speed with which you row, you can work on your aerobic endurance as well. Watch a video of some seafaring saga (the first Pirates of the Caribbean springs to mind) and that ll get you in the right mood as well.

Types of rowing machines

Piston resistance dual arm

According to third party descriptions of rowing machines,  piston models are the smallest and least expensive options,  and the major drawback is that taller people won t be able to fit on the frame.

Air resistance

These types of rowing machines use a fan to create resistance. Because of this design, they have a long frame, and therefore take up more space. The fan is also rather loud.


The Air/Magnetic rowers combine two types of resistance. Fans blow to begin with, but the more your effort to row increases, then the magnetic resistance takes over   which is typically the quietest form of rowing machine resistance. These kinds of machines are also typically the most expensive.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a quiet river, or a reservoir, you can row all year round, in a  shell.  (If you ve ever seen the classic series Banacek, you know what a shell is) There s nothing quite like propelling yourself along on a real river, hearing the blades of the oars dip into the water, seeing real scenery pass by…(if you row on a river you re called a  sculler. )

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