Indoor rowing with waterrower A1

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waterrower a1 with wood handle

Well, I entered MLC, mid life crisis, at the same time a Covid-19 hit. Therefore, I splashed out on a waterrower A1, cause something had to happen. I wanted something for general fitness, more movement, not medals hunting.

I have never enjoyed going to a gym and I find HIIT and working out to numbers – 2x 30sec of Y and then 5x 10sec of X etc – utterly boring and dreadful. Why do something to a point where you are near passing out just after you have puked up your guts. I honestly don’t get it at all. And I don’t have any interest in being the new world champ, fastest so and so, I’m happy with cake.

As you can see from my riding style – I pootle.

That said the few times I have been in a gym, against my better judgement, the only thing that I enjoyed and could see myself doing for more than a “one time test”, was the rowing machines.

There is pretty much only one out there the Concept 2 model D, looking at youtube, blogs, reviews etc. Everyone says, this is the one, but I think most of these are coming from the “I’m going to win something” point of view. But right away one thing that I didn’t like about it was the noise and the type of sound. I just knew that I didn’t want to have music, turned to 11 to cover that machine noise. That machine whining noise, would just drive me away from using it ever again, after one row. Then I would have yet another expensive drying rack.

Then I fell over the Waterrower, made with wood, which made it look even better than the Concept 2. And the noise from it as the company said sounded like rowing on water. Well to my ears, it does sounds like you are splashing water around in a bucket. But at a level that you could still think and not be driven crazy with, when working out.

After the classic uumm, erm, ahh, putting it into the basket, cancelling, reading more blogs, adding another rowing machine into the basket, to watch more youtube. I finally clicked place order, mainly because the waterrower had only 6 weeks waiting list and the Concept 2 had 15 week that seemed to only climb up.

I don’t have any background in rowing other than once or twice I have watched the boat race and my cousin used to row back 40 years ago. I started to watch all the how to videos there is online. Not many, but Dark Horse Rowing, Training Tall and, RowAlong looks like being the only ones, along with r/rowing on reddit is a good place to read and learn about indoor rowing.

Like everything else it was clear that you need to take it easy, start slow, build it up and don’t go mad right off the bat. Was the main thing I learned, while I waited.

Then it arrived, finally, well packed and the wood looked even better than on the photos. I really like the finish, smooth and rough, you still have that real wood feel to the Ash. Not the “over” finished many items of wood have, with lacquer or paint.

Easy instructions, just make sure you got the space for it as it is bigger than you think at first. You don’t want to knock something over while you put it together. Water tank was easy to fill and it does look cool when it just sits there unused.

Spend some time just sitting on it, get used to how it works and feel, adjust the foot rest. Learn how to sit on it how to hold the “ores”. The above youtubers beginners videos are great to follow and watch before you get your rowing machine, cause you will get to know what the things are doing.

Of all the videos and blog post I have seen, I really liked it, that it is ok to stop and stretch, have a drink, before you start again. Honestly it is recommended, so do remember to do it. That is one thing I rarely see in cycling videos, blogs etc, it is more – “get on, work out till you fall off and when you can breathe again then remember your recovery drink”.

So I have converted and truly do enjoy doing some home gym’ing. ATM I try to do about 6 days a week with alternative long and short days. I’m doing three days on – 5000m, 8000m, 10000m – a day off, then repeat.

The first 10000m I did in 55min, I was sure I would be over an hour first time. Which I’m very chuffed with. Without going hard I can get a 10000m in 48min. I did a “record” attempt, which I miss planned, but still manged to do it in 44m10s. Would I be able to get under 40min if I plan better and train harder? (Yes the irony, I said up thread that I’m not interested in records LOL)

Added bonus I have lost about 2 stones / 10-12kgs since I got the waterrower 5 months ago. I have also started to get “shapes” in places I have never had shapes, I think some people call them muscles.

waterrower a1

I have done some DIY upgrades to the waterrower. I didn’t get on with the handle, heavy and plastic, that got very warm/sweaty very fast. So I got a two foot long, 30mm dia, Maple dowel, did some re-stitching of the “pull cord”. It feels much lighter and cooler in hand even after 40min+ rowing. Since it is a bit wider it also feels like it fit me better since I’m 6’4″ with a wide wingspan. I think that waterrower should have the options to have a wooden handle. It does look very good, even if the Maple isn’t the same colour as the Ash the waterrower is made out of.

The heal part of the foot rests also sometimes falls off my heal, I row shoe less, which causes the hard plastic to make an annoying “slap” sound. I put some spare leather under the heal part and that removed that slapping sound. Along with sanding the edges of the of plastic as they were rather sharp. Though now that I have learnt the correct style of rowing this “slay” isn’t happening anymore.

Do remember to wipe clean the rails with a rag, cause even a little bit of dust and fur from the mutt, can be felt and heard while you are rowing. The seat does seam a bit lose in the rails, but when you get your seating, rowing sorted and core engaged this goes away.

I also put some old t-shirts into the rail, since I got the waterrower A1 that got a single long hollow aluminium rail. This kinda works as a speaker, so the back and forth of the roller on the seat, is just a bit loud and high pitched. If I had foam, packing chips or cotton I think this might have worked much better, but the t-shirts took the edge off the noise.

If you want to hear what the waterrower A1 sound like while rowing click here.

When I row, I use a pair of Bluetooth ear buds to either listen to a random tv-show or podcast at a volume that don’t make my ears bleed. I can just hear the nice noise of the water in the tank, even when I go as hard as I can. Also Peli can’t hear it upstairs and can ask me questions without shouting at the top of her lungs.

The only thing I have against waterrower is the A1’s computer’s beep is LOUD!! I didn’t get the S4 or Smart Row, so I don’t know their volumes. I have stopped using the timer or distance counter option. Cause the “you are done” beep is so LOUD, like a smoke alarm warning beep and nearly as long as the Line of Duty recording beep (if you know, you know :) ) This beep just sends the dog crazy and she was already worried about what I was doing on that rowing thing. Even the start beep is a bit mad and can be heard upstairs and the dog comes running in panic. Sadly there isn’t a way to lower this volume or turn it off. I have been thinking about taking the computer apart to see if I can cut the wire to the speaker, red or blue wire?. This rather crazy since one of the waterrower’s selling points is how quite it is.

Else I truly enjoy using the waterrower, I feel fitter already, could use another stone / 6kg’ish weight loss, but this is early days.

Also I don’t feel like there is a point in the near future, that I will stop using the waterrower.

That is the other thing about the indoor rowing, even when you are sweating buckets and get off. You are not beaten in the same way you on a bicycle. Yes, you have done a work out, but you can walk and best of all sit down and get up again. At every cafe stop while out cycling, I see cyclist walking away from the bike stiff and sore. To then ride away faffing around with a comfy seating position. None of that with rowing and also riding a recumbent, the joy of getting a workout while sitting comfortable and without the pain.

I’m even thinking about doing 10000m every day for a month “rowaton” and even half and full marathons. A quick back on the envelope number adding, I’m already at 600.000 metres.

Well that’s my 2 cents and I will now go “out to sea” as I call it when I have a session on the waterrower.

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