Patricia Carswell |

Life off the river: lockdown cross training for rowers

Award-winning blogger and journalist, Patricia Carswell, shares her latest rowing adventures in her exclusive British Rowing blog – Life on the river

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding Lockdown 2.0 harder than the first one. There’s none of that jolly, communal, Tiger-King-and-Zoom-cocktails vibe of Lockdown #1, and the relentlessness of it all is starting to grate.

But I’m determined that being forced off the river isn’t going to be an excuse to give up and get fat on banana bread and sourdough (which, let’s face it, is just so last lockdown). I’ve resolved to use this month to consolidate my fitness, so I return to rowing in better shape than when I left it.

We don’t need a pandemic to remind us how brilliant cross training is. It’s not just our fitness that benefits – the variety can keep us motivated and it’s great for preventing injury. Win-win.

So here are a few ideas for how to keep fit without the gym or the river.


1 – Rowing machine workouts

  1. Check out British Rowing on YouTube for a selection of Go Row Indoor workouts and their social media for new daily lockdown workouts.
  2. Also, worth a try is British Rowing partner asensei’s ‘Master the Basics’ – an interactive indoor rowing programme where you can train alongside GB rowers for $12.50 a month.
  3. Sign up for rowing studio workouts. I rather like ROWBOTS – a rowing studio I visited earlier this year, whose excellent classes involve rowing intervals and circuits-style mat work). They have recently launched ROWBOTS@home, a virtual class platform currently costing £25/month – a pretty good bargain considering how many classes are available.

If you don’t have your own rowing machine, ask your club if you can borrow one. Failing that, you can hire machines from various outlets (though it looks as though prices are somewhat inflated) or buy a WaterRower from ROWBOTS on a monthly payment scheme with prices starting at under £11.

2 – HIIT / S&C

YouTube and social media abound with free strength and cardio workouts (you really don’t have to join Joe Wicks). Which one you choose is very much a matter of personal taste. I’m a fan of Elle Linton, who has added some free sessions into her weekly online schedule, and Julia Buckley, who’s doing free daily classes live on Instagram during lockdown.

Try Zac Lee-Green’s S&C workouts on British Rowing’s YouTube channel – they pair nicely with the Go Row Indoors workouts if you like your sessions a little longer.

For something more tailored, try Trion – a fitness app which takes your details and goals and provides as many workouts per week as you like (you can choose between gym equipment, resistance bands and body weight exercises, according to what you have available). I’ve been trying them this week and have discovered muscles I didn’t know I had (ouch). It’s just £6/month, but you can get a free month with this link.


3 – Mobility

It’s easy to neglect this part of our training, but the benefits are huge, and we’ve all got a bit of extra time on our hands now we’re not travelling to the club or faffing around with boats.

YouTube is full of yoga and Pilates sessions. If it’s basic, om-free yoga you’re after, you can’t go far wrong with the lovely Yoga with Adriene.

Lots of teachers have taken their classes online, so ask around to find out what local classes there are. Failing that, Carol Boughton, an Ardingly rower, does online Pilates for £15/month with a free taster session.

If apps are more your style, check out Body Control Pilates ( about £10/month) which is particularly good for older masters rowers, and don’t rule out the Deliciously Ella app (just 99p/month) which has yoga, Pilates and stretching and mobility alongside cardio and strength. Great recipes, too!


And then, when it’s all over, we can return to the river, appreciating our rowing more than ever.

See you on the other side!