Ultrafit (UK) December 2002 – “WaterCrew”

A new group fitness class that utilises the much-publicised attributes of indoor rowing as its main focus
WATERCREW
With the huge rise in popularity of indoor cycling classes over the past couple of years, I guess it was only a matter of time before some bright spark thought of using a rowing machine to create a group fitness programme. Although not the first
- Concept2 have had their Crew classes around for some time now
- WaterRower, with their WaterCrew classes, is the latest company to take the plunge.

describes its WaterCrew class as, “A group training activity where you experience the realism, satisfaction and dynamics of crew rowing. WaterCrew classes are designed to provide a relaxed, yet invigorating workout for all age groups, from beginners to elite athletes.”
They go on to say that it can, “… simulate both the aesthetic pleasures and physiological benefits of rowing, enabling you to experience the spirit and togetherness of crew rowing in an indoor environment”.
After reading this, I couldn’t wait to give it a go.
On the morning I was booked in to do my first WaterCrew class, I was stressed out. Nothing was going my way. I was meeting frustration at every turn, and so it was with a fair amount of tension that I rode the elevator, tight lipped, up to the third floor of the building. However, as I walked through the door and was greeted by a sweet smiling receptionist, my mood soon melted and the mist began to rise. Maybe it was going to be a good day after all.
I was introduced to Peter Murphy, WaterRower’s business development manager and my instructor for the morning, who then led me over to my other classmates and the WaterRower machines themselves. After adjusting the foot rests, I strapped my feet in and gave it a try.
Looks apart – the WaterRower is made from huge slabs of top grade
For your nearest WaterCrew class, call WaterRower on 02 9748 0591, or log onto the website, www. waterrower.com.au for further information.
hardwood – this machine behaves much like any other conventional indoor rower, with the intensity of your workout being dictated by the speed at which you row. The major difference with a WaterRower is that while you row, you’re accompanied by the soothing sound of water in motion – a real plus in my book.
THE WORKOUT
The class started with a slow, five-minute warm-up. This gave the novice rowers amongst us a chance to familiarise themselves with the WaterRower, and Peter an opportunity to give us instructions and tips on the correct rower technique. He told us that it was important to push off using just your legs, keeping your arms and back straight. Only when your legs are fully extended do you then bring your arms into play by pulling the ‘oar’ towards your midriff. And, unlike a seated row on a weight machine, where you keep your back straight all the way, it is best if you lean backwards slightly as you pull the ‘oar’ towards you. To return to the starting position, you simply straighten your arms and bend your legs, in that order. A simple way to remember this sequence is, ‘legs-arms-arms-legs’. Once we’d all got to grips with the correct technique, we finished off the warm-up with a stretch of the legs, arms and back, to prepare the body for the main workout.
myself rowing in the Olympic finals and their encouragement made me row faster and work harder, helping me cross the line first to win Gold.
After our big sprinting effort, we were all thirsty and out of breath, so it was a relief when Peter said, “That’s it for today, guys”, and we were able to stop and get a drink of water. The class then ended with a five minute warm-down of slow rowing, followed by a final stretch of the arms, legs and back.
CREW
by Annie Clark
The first phase of the workout lasted around eighteen minutes, and comprised three minutes of rowing at 18 strokes per minute (spm), two minutes at 20spm, and one minute at 22spm, repeated three times. I found this a very manageable pace, and it gave me the opportunity to focus fully on my technique and keep in time with Peter, who sat facing us. Although I wasn’t too pushed physically, I enjoyed the hypnotic effect of the rhythmic rowing and the relaxing sound of the water swishing around the tank at my feet.
The next phase involved a higher intensity workout, comprising three minutes at 2ospm, two minutes at 22spm and one minute at 24spm. As the stroke rate increase, so did everyone’s heart rates. Because rowing utilises most of your major muscle groups, it provides both an upper and lower body workout, thus increasing the challenge on your heart and lungs.
Go Annie!
Being hugely competitive by nature, the last part of the class – the ‘race’ -was the most enjoyable part of the morning for me. It was also the hardest. Each person, in turn, had to sprint, flat out for 30 seconds whilst the other members of the class encouraged them to go as hard as they could. This was repeated three times in a clockwise order, with the instructor going first, the person on his left going next, and so forth.
As I sprinted my hardest, the class was yelling, “Go Annie!”, “You can do it!”, “The finish line is just up ahead!”, “You’re winning, Annie!”. I imagined
Conclusion
The high point for me was undoubtedly the ‘race’ phase, which was both fun and very motivating – that, and the ever-present, relaxing sound of the water. The only possible weakness of this class is, apart from the sprinting at the end, it is quite easy, so advanced fitness trainers may not find it challenging enough for them. I would say it would be an ideal workout for beginners, or those who want a gentler workout.
Some of you may think that 45 minutes of rowing sounds a bit boring, but the fact that the class is broken up into different phases and conducted at varying levels of intensity, combined with the rhythmic nature of the movements, ensures that time flies by.
ULTRA-FIT CLASS RATING
Water Rower provides a good cardiovascular workout because it uses all the major muscle groups and, unlike other cardiovascular equipment, involves both an upper and lower body workout.
Strength: 7
WaterCrew helps to develop strength many areas of your body – primarily your legs, back and arms.
Agility: 1
You don’t have to be agile to do this class, and it doesn’t generally increase agility.
Co-ordination: 5
Helps if you have some indoor rowing experience, and/or a basic level of co-ordination to keep in time with the instructor and row in the correct form.
Flexibility: 1
Luckily for me, you don’t have to be too flexible to do a WaterCrew class, apart from the quick stretch at the beginning and end.
Local muscular endurance: 8
As you’re using all the major muscle groups for forty minutes plus, the endurance factor with WaterCrew is fairly high, particularly in the legs, back and arms.
Annie Clark is a registered fitness leader who has been involved in the fitness industry for the past ten years. She is also a psychologist, freelance journalist and model, and has won several fitness titles including Miss Fitness, Miss Fitness Model and Body Beautiful.

If you liked this article, Check out Indo-Row, an updated version of WaterCrew!!