We all have our favourite indoor workouts but perhaps it’s time to stretch your comfort zone? Patricia Carswell shares her top six workouts to help motivate you!
Since last year’s lockdown we’ve acquainted ourselves with home workouts and some clear leaders have emerged in the field. Although most of us are back on the water, plenty of us are still looking for workouts we can do from home – either because we live somewhere still subject to restrictions or because we have too many commitments to be able to abandon the home workout altogether. After extensive research, a lot of sweat and some serious DOMS, I’m delighted to share my top six.
A rich collection of indoor rowing programmes and workouts, led by giants in the rowing world such as the GB Rowing Team and double Olympic champion Eric Murray. The ‘Master the Basics’ programme by asensei and British Rowing is an eight-week plan to sharpen technique for new rowers and those looking to refresh their skills.
“Don’t miss the 35% discount on asensei subscriptions throughout May!”
Goal-centred, with an emphasis on progression in technique and fitness, you get personalised feedback from the app, gleaned from your PM5 data. There are occasional live-streamed sessions, and for an additional fee you can access one-to-one coaching where you submit video footage and get individual feedback.
Equipment needed: Concept2 with PM5 plus iPhone or iPad (not Android-compatible).
Price: £111 annual membership or £17/month. Don’t miss the 35% discount on asensei subscriptions throughout May!
Progressing fitness and learning from elite rowers. You need to commit to several sessions per week to get the best results, but there’s loads of variety in the programmes. A helpful Facebook group provides extra support and the developers are regularly adding new features, workouts and programmes
An online programme from indoor rowing studio, ROWBOTS. There’s a weekly timetable of live classes (via Zoom) including rowing-only, mobility and floor-based strength and conditioning sessions, plus a library of videos for use at any time. The programme emphasises mental strength – classes often end with meditation, and there are regular online talks about mental health and wellbeing.
Equipment needed: rowing machine (any kind) for the rowing classes (you can buy a WaterRower as part of the package for an extra fee). Dumbbells or kettlebells useful.
The classes are tough – I was pushed to my limits in both rowing and S&C sessions – so they’re great for fitness. You get some feedback from the instructors during the live classes, and there’s a nice sense of community. The mental health element is a positive addition to the format.
Still in beta format, EXR is quite possibly the very first really visually strong rowing app, which portrays you, the rower, in a single scull on a beautiful lake (in perfect conditions), occasionally alongside other rowers. You can choose between a variety of workouts, from short, sharp intervals to longer, steady-state ones, with your split and stroke rate shown on screen and instructions to push harder or ease off flashing up.
Equipment needed: Concept2 with PM5/WaterRower with Bluetooth ComModule/RP3, plus phone or tablet (includes some Android devices but best to check your device is compatible before signing up).
Price: Once out of beta (estimated summer of 2021), the app will offer a free trial period, after which paid access will be £8.99/month, with an annual subscription starting at £6.99/month.
Stunning graphics and a nice variety of workouts, although at the moment the “surroundings” don’t change very much throughout the workout. The developers are very open to feedback and it has enormous potential. Definitely one to watch.
Live indoor rowing sessions on Zoom led by rowers ranging from Olympians and professional coaches to ordinary club athletes (full disclosure: I now host a session on there, but I was a fan from day one). Since Zoom Ergos launched in November 2020, it’s mushroomed and was host to the Women’s Head of the River this year (which attracted more than 600 entrants). The sessions aren’t recorded (for data protection/consent reasons), so if you can’t make a session there’s no option to catch up afterwards.
Equipment needed: rowing machine (any kind), though some join on exercise bikes and treadmills.
Aside from being free, the main benefit is rowing alongside others and getting motivation from the session leaders – many users report being inspired to complete sessions they’d never have finished on their own. A tremendous sense of community has grown up around it, with friendships forming and non-rowers joining in.
LES MILLS ON DEMAND
More than 1,000 workout videos, in the same format as the live classes found in gyms. All the familiar Les Mills classes are there – spin, body pump, body barre, grit and many more, all delivered with the signature, love-it-or-loathe-it Les Mills enthusiasm. However, there’s no indoor rowing, and the fist-pumping Les Mills style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
“If you’ve got into an exercise rut, this is perfect for shaking you out of it”
Equipment needed: just the Les Mills app (Apple or Android). You can get a good sweat on without any equipment, via classes like body combat, body barre and grit, but obviously the spin classes require an exercise bike and certain classes such as BODYPUMP and BODYSTEP involve specific equipment (which you can order online).
Price: after a free trial period, £11.95/month (less if you commit to a longer period).
If you’ve got into an exercise rut, this is perfect for shaking you out of it – you’ll never run out of variety, and there are tutorial videos to explain the moves. Cyclists may enjoy experimenting with the different types of spin class without the outlay required for Zwift or Peloton (though I found the virtual landscape sessions a little uninspiring). Great for those who don’t have a rowing machine at home.
A newly released indoor rowing app that uses advanced AI to help you improve your technique. You upload video footage of yourself on the rowing machine and the Form First app analyses your form and suggests drills and a training plan to deal with the areas you need to work on. Still in the early stages, so the suggested sessions are still limited, however the founders are open to feedback and are keen to improve the range and functionality.
Equipment needed: Rowing machine (any kind), phone (Apple or Android), plus ideally resistance bands and a foam roller for mobility work.
There are plans for more features and additional workouts to follow soon.
It’s great for working on technical issues – the app correctly identified my most glaring faults and the recommended drills are spot on. The stretching and mobility exercises are excellent, too. It’s free and hopes to remain so.