26 Mar 2012

Go With the Flow and Learn to Row

Photo courtesy of Capital Rowing Club

This spring, why not enjoy the unseasonably warm weather? Go with the flow — of the Anacostia River that is.

Capitol Hill is close to some well-worn walking, jogging and biking paths, but for a more unique cardio routine, you may want to head to the Anacostia Boathouse and give crew a try.

The Capital Rowing Club offers people of all ages the opportunity to row — even for the most water-challenged. A weekend-only, 5-week session teaches you the basics and will get you  gliding on the water in no time, says coach Bob Brady.

And, Brady knows a thing or two about rowing. He started as a collegiate rower in Michigan and has taught several classes of novices in his four years at Capital Rowing Club. Earlier this week, we spoke to Brady and asked him what it takes to go from novice to expert rower:

Q: Why do you row and why should someone give rowing a try?

A: Fitness and camaraderie are the reasons I got into rowing. I was a freshman at Michigan State University and decided to try rowing, and I ended up getting in the best shape of my life. I also met some great people that I’m still friends with today. I think for the same reasons people should give rowing a shot. D.C. is a very transient city, and people are always looking for new things to try or new people to meet. I have seen people start as beginners and move onto the competitive team with Capital Rowing Club, and race all across the country. I’ve also seen people start a class not knowing a single person, but ended up with great friendships at and away from the boathouse.

Q: What are some of the techniques that you teach?

A: That’s a hard question to answer if people are unfamiliar with rowing. But, I like to teach people how to be fluid and row with finesse. Some people think rowing is about being aggressive and powerful, and pulling with everything they’ve got. It’s not. That’s actually counter-intuitive due to the amount of force aggressive strokes can place on the boat as it moves in the water. Rowers should flow with the water, and the better they can do that, the better they can build coordination, strength and the ability to move eight people together. All this in turn, builds boat speed which could result in some great practices and races. To put it visually, I’d rather have eight ballerinas in a boat, than eight bodybuilders, but all are welcomed to try us out of course.

Q: How many years have you been coaching?

A: I’ve been a rowing coach for eight years, starting after my four-year stint as a rower with Michigan State’s rowing club. I coached the university’s men’s novice program for beginners for three years before moving to the D.C. area, where I began coaching with Capital Rowing Club.

Q: Do you need to have athletic skill to row?

No, you don’t. But I would say, any beginner needs to have the willingness to learn and be challenged – physically and mentally. In the novice classes [that] I coach, I’ve seen a wide range of people in fitness and age . . . the greatest age range in one class was from 13 years-old to 65 years-old . . . We start with the fundamentals of rowing – body positions, how to carry equipment, getting in a boat and feeling comfortable on the water. And we finish the session rowing up and down the river, building strength and cardio endurance for everyone in the boat.

Q: How can someone register and when do classes start?

A: Anyone who is interested in trying the novice classes with Capital Rowing Club can visit www.capitalrowing.org. There’s additional information on the page about the program, and we offer five different sessions through the spring, summer and fall.

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