Forget spin classes and crossfit. Rowing is the latest fitness trend to take the capital by storm. High intensity and low impact, it’s tough on your muscles, but easy on your joints. It’s also an unbeatable full-body workout, working 86 per cent of your musculature, which running and spinning just can’t compete with.
New London fitness studio GROW is at the centre of the rowing revolution. Established six months ago by the team behind Soho Fitness Lab, GROW offers small classes of high intensity rowing alongside intelligently-crafted interval training regimes, for a powerful all-over workout designed to push users to their limits – in a good way.
Rowing exercises the entire posterior chain (the group of muscles that keep us upright and support our spine, often referred to as the ‘powerhouse’ of the body) and works wonders to strengthen the core, too. This, combined with floor work and weighted exercises that target specific muscles, mean GROW’s methodology improves the cardiovascular fitness, burns fat and builds muscle, all at the same time.
Founders Brett and Sandra Durney began to explore rowing as an high-intensity alternative to running or spinning when visiting New York a few years ago. Like many fitness trends – and other trends full stop – rowing has been growing in popularity in the Big Apple for the last few years, and is finally establishing a foothold on British shores thanks to Brett and Sandra.
‘The best exercise classes are found in New York, no question’ says Brett. ‘There are a number of studios there that offer rowing as an alternative to spinning. There isn’t a rowing concept in London, so we decided to bring it across.’
With backgrounds in personal training, Brett and Sandra also wanted to bring the expertise of one-to-one sessions to a wider audience. ‘Our coaches are all personal trainers, as opposed to fitness instructors, and we’re all about coaching people on form,’ explains Brett. ‘GROW is all about bringing personal training to the masses, in as personal a way as possible.’
The fact that it also focuses on low impact fitness is also important, pointing to an increased interest in exercise options that don’t include damaging your knees and hips. ‘There’s so many people now who, through high impact exercise like running, are starting to feel the effects in their joints a lot more. People are looking for alternatives, and choosing low impact exercises,’ says Brett.
Moreover, this momentum is starting to grow across the capital, ‘I’ve heard rumours that other gyms are starting to copy [our rowing class set-up]’, he says. ‘We’re setting a trend, and I definitely think it’s going to become more popular.’
So, ditch your running spikes and your spin bike, and dust off the nearest rowing machine – it looks like this fitness trend is here to stay.