A Change of Exercise Direction

If you’re a long-time visitor you’ll probably know about my attempts to get fit and lose weight by cycling. Back in May I felt I was finally making a bit of progress and then my knee became incredibly painful and stayed that way for three weeks. Even when it felt generally better it was still painful to cycle and I worried that I was causing it more damage. It was time to try something new.

Remembering a period in my life a decade ago when I went to the gym regularly and actually enjoyed it I recalled being particularly enamoured with the indoor rowing machines. Since I know I’d struggle to go to a gym I decided to splash out on my own rowing machine and three weeks ago my Concept2 Model D arrived.

There are two great bits of news… The first is that my memories were not rose-tinted and I’m using it regularly, enjoying it immensely and making improvements. The second is that it seems to have sorted out my knee. It still aches slightly at times but it’s a lot better and definitely doesn’t ache when I row.

So, about those improvements… In three weeks I’d not expect to see huge changes and I haven’t. My weight hasn’t visibly plummeted (and possibly won’t since I’m hopefully gaining muscle at the moment) and I still look as fat as I did in the mirror. However the great thing about indoor rowing is that you can see the changes in other ways. Concept2 provide an on-line logbook so I can log my sessions and see how time times and distances vary. Fortunately there is generally a downward trend which is encouraging although some of it is probably down to improving technique. But the fact is that I can accurately log the data and compare like-for-like and see how things are changing. This is difficult to do in a lot of other activities where external factors such as traffic and weather can play a part.

The other thing I like about indoor rowing is that you can wear a heart rate monitor and optimise your workouts. You can keep your heart rate in certain bands much more easily than you can on, say, a bike and interval training is also remarkably easy to set up (if not always to do!). My Concept2 has a PM4 computer and I link it to my phone so, whilst I am rowing, I can see a whole plethora of information from stroke rate to calories burnt, from average force to distance travelled. For a gadget and stats freak like me it’s bliss!

There are also regular challenges. Saturday was the longest day of the year so Concept2s set a Summer Solstice Challenge which was to row 21k during the course of the day. You could break it into several sessions or do it all in one go. If you managed to row 21,097 meters in one session then you’d rowed a half marathon. I’m very proud to say that I almost managed to do just that but had to take a break of a few minutes towards the end of the challenge because I’d lost all feeling in my bottom! However I completed the challenge and I know I can row a half marathon. That’s very encouraging.

So what next? I’m obviously going to carry on exercising and hopefully the changes in body shape I’ve been craving will now happen. I’m also going to continue to participate in Concept2’s challenges and I’m going to set a few of my own too. Finally I’m going to book at least one session with a professional trainer to help with my technique and to make sure that things like bad rowing posture aren’t going to cause me issues further down the line.