The Beast

With the berms being snow covered, random patches of ice on the road, and overall cold and windy conditions, I have forsaken any bike riding for the time being.  Instead, I’m reverting to ages past, and taking some time every other night to “pull an erg.”

“Erg” or more appropriately “Ergo”, is short for ergometer, which was the original name for the Concept 2 rower.  It used to be marketed strictly for the rowing community, and usually more the elite crowd.  However, in recent years the firm has branched out into both the home gym and health club markets, so it’s now called the “rower.”

It’s a fascinating story how this thing evolved from a collection of old bicycle parts, but the new machines are true engineering marvels.  Essentially, they use air resistance to mimic the more fluid feel that one experiences while moving a rowing shell.  This is a far cry better than the old piston units that flooded the market back in the ’70’s.

This is a Model C, which has since been replaced by three new units, and has a PM2+ performance monitor.  In addition to telling me every bit of data I would ever need, I can also connect it to a computer and have it tell me data I don’t need.   If I were really ambitious, I could also hook it to a computer and race other rower owners on-line.  And when I was ambitious, I would strap on a heart rate monitor and it would tell me how hard I was working – as if I needed to know that.

It’s also sitting on a pair of “slides”, which is an option that allows the entire works to move back and forth while the body mass remains static, provided you’re rowing correctly.  Otherwise, you end up crashing into the stops and causing all kinds of trouble that would prompt you to quit after a few minutes.

It’s all about applying massive amounts of power from three major muscle groups in a precisely controlled manner, resulting in the closest thing to actual sculling without being in a boat.  You can get a great physical workout on an ergo in 20 minutes that would take nearly an hour on a bike.

The downside, of course, is that you’re stuck in the basement, looking at the walls.  I find some loud rock music helps keep me distracted, and the less commercials the better.  You can’t see it in the pictures, but there is a stereo sitting right next to it, and we figured out a way for my oldest son to plug in his Ipod.

I’m still at the point where I’m just pulling steady state for 20 minutes, but I already am noticing improvement.  I’ll probably work up to 30 minutes, increase the rate slightly; and then develop some workouts where the rate is varied.  The PM2+ allows storing timed interval workouts so the machine does all the thinking for you…you just have to pull.

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2 responses to “The Beast

  1. The health club I belonged to years ago had 2 rowing machines and I used to love working out with them. I miss that and the sauna more than anything else about not having a membership now…

    • They are great for getting you in shape; and like cycling, very low impact. Over the years, the only real rowing-related injuries I’ve had are blisters and split callouses.

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