Look at me only paying €55.39 per workout!

I suppose that there’s something positive to be said of a guy who managed to get a €1,439.84 workout down to a mere fifty-five Euros.

Twenty-six rowing workouts later

That’s right, I’ve recorded twenty-six rowing workouts. I sometimes forget to write down that I’ve rowed and then I’m not sure if I recorded it or not, so that number might not be accurate.

So, that’s the first thing that’s changed: I don’t record workouts with tally-marks. I write down the date of each workout and then, if I’m not sure whether or not I wrote down yesterday’s workout, I can see if yesterday’s date is there.

A developing routine

As rowing has become less and less something I “get” to do (there was a time when I looked forward to the next day’s workout and resented the rest day in between) and instead became another thing that I have to make time for, it’s probably inevitable that a certain degree of routine has crept in.

My workouts tend to be one of the following:

  • Steady rowing. This is probably my “laziest” workout. There are days when I don’t feel up to pushing myself, but know I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get a workout in. So, I get the machine out and I try to maintain a stroke rate of 22 for thirty minutes.
  • A complete dark horse workout. There are a couple of workouts that Dark Horse Rowing has made available on YouTube. These always kick my butt and leave me feeling like I did something worthwhile. Generally, I download these videos if I plan to do the workout again, because the ads are less than fun.

I haven’t yet branched out into other rowing channels on YouTube. I like the way Shane Farmer (spelling?) of Dark Horse talks to me, I enjoy his mannerisms, and I haven’t gotten tired of anything yet.

Balancing out rowing

I don’t know if you know this, but Germany is going through another “light” lockdown and most of my work is from home. My step counts are way down, and, if I don’t run, there are a lot of days when I would never leave the apartment.

I’ve begun to get the sense that rowing and running aren’t enough. So, I’ve started doing other exercise videos (including this one, that my daughter picked to do when she was home for a quarantine–it routinely kicks my butt) and pushups and wall stands.

My son has got it into his head that he’d like to do backflips, so we might start training cartwheels. We’ll see.

Only €143.99 per rowing workout

Ten workouts in

I mentioned when I bought the rowing machine that I’d be keeping track of the per-workout cost as a way to keep myself going. Now that I’m ten workouts in, the cost of workouts is down dramatically… to just a little under a hundred and fifty Euros per workout.

Sigh.

I have made rowing a priority, meaning that I do it every other day, whether or not I ran on the prior day or not. That means that, if I miss a rund day, I don’t postpone rowing to get the run in. The run is just gone forever.

Still, I want to get three runs in per week, and the dual motivations of doing that and also getting in my rowing workouts has kept me pretty active.

Seeing results

It’s been a little more than two weeks of rowing, and I’m beginning to imagine I can see results. Not results that I can see in my body directly, but I am standing with better posture, feeling stronger.

Recently, I was climbing trees with the kids and found myself enjoying having the core strength to hang under a branch and move along it upside down. I didn’t make it far, but holding up my weight that way made me feel strong in a way that few activities have.

So, in that way, I see some results.

Also… I’m sore a lot. Rowing is a lot on the legs and running… You know which muscle groups running uses. So, I frequently start the day with tired calves. However, once I’m up and moving around, I’m back to normal. Because I’m pushing myself so hard, I’ve relaxed my need to get in ten thousand steps every day. I get them on run days, easily, but I don’t push myself on rowing days.

What I’m doing

I still see myself as a beginner and mostly do workouts just to mark them done. My goal has been to get around twenty minutes of rowing during each workout, and I’ve accomplished that a couple of ways, mostly using videos from Dark Horse Rowing on YouTube.

  • I use one of the workouts from his Learn To Row Workouts playlist, focusing on form in some way. Then, I drink some water and then row along with the 15 minutes of silent rowing video in that playlist. I try to focus on the new form elements during those 15 minutes.
  • He also has a longer workout with warmup and cooldown that includes some of what he calls “emotional work,” with him saying we’re rowing hard to stay ahead of competitors. I’ve done this twice and it has kicked my butt both times. I had to take a nap after my first time through… and I love that, but that’s not always an option.

One thing I have learned is to download the videos from YouTube when I think I’d like to do the workouts more than once. On YouTube, the workouts and interrupted by advertisements (I mostly get Peleton–I’m not buying any more big workout equipment!) and that takes me out of the zone, not to mention the fact that the workout is stopped.

Conclusion

So far, I don’t regret buying the rowing machine and it hasn’t been hard for me to find the motivation to row. I do find that it requires less willpower because starting–getting the machine out and setting up my notebook–is fairly painless. By the time I have to sweat, there isn’t much else to do.

I plan to check in again at twenty workouts and would like to be able to report more clear improvements in my strength, though it should be clear that I do feel abstractly stronger than I did before. I’d just like to know that I’m stronger.

The €1,439.84 workout

I just had a workout for almost one and a half thousand Euros, and believe me: I can still feel it in my legs.

With time, I’d like to feel the workout less, and to get the cost down. Let me explain:

Why a new workout?

I love my running. But, I don’t feel like it’s enough. So, I’ve experimented with various workouts though the years, and I’ve posted about a bunch of them here. (For example: the burpee project and, most recently, an at-home ninja warrior workout.)

Nothing has stuck the way running has stuck. And nothing has made me look forward to the workout the way running did. So, yes, I did find myself doing more burpees in a set or feeling stronger while carrying my kids around… but I didn’t feel success.

Then I read a book…

As with so many things in my life: I got an idea reading a book. The book was recommended by my family for at least a year, but I didn’t think of myself as the kind of person who read books about sports. And rowing? It’s not for me.

Still, whenever I mentioned needing something to read, everyone recommended “The Boys in the Boat.” It’s the story of a Washington University rowing team that, in spite of some unsportsmanlike conduct both in the U.S. during qualifying and in the Olympics, went on to win the gold medal.

It’s a story of the adversity of coming of age in the depression, as well as sticking it to the Nazis? How could I not be enthralled.

(An aside: this is further proof that, when someone you admire recommends a book, you should consider that book. When more than one person recommends the book, go and buy it!)

I found myself watching things like this:

And, all the while, admiring the boys and enjoying the adventure. Each chapter started with a poetic and inspiring observation by George Pocock, who made shells in the boathouse of Washington University. I found myself thinking: I would like to discover in myself some small part of what these young men found in rowing.

Enter the rowing machine

That’s why today’s workout was so expensive. On Saturday, I bought a rowing machine, with limited accessories for €1,439.84. It wasn’t entirely spontaneous: I spent some time researching rowing and rowing machines online. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t want to be the beginner in a 40-and-up rowing crew where the other members have been rowing for the last twenty years.

After assembling the machine–it was a fair bit of work, and, more than once, I had to go back and add washers to bolts that I forgot to add them to–I went though a “your first workout” video which focused more on form and how to sit on the machine. So, though I did about ten minutes of rowing and definitely felt it yesterday, I’m not counting it as a workout on my running costs (see below).

Today, I did this workout focused on the catch, and, feeling that ten minutes wasn’t enough–we’ll see if aching muscles tomorrow tell me otherwise–I added this one as well. After all, when you pay over a thousand euros for a workout, you want it to last more than ten minutes.

Running costs…

I’m intimidated by the amount of money I spent. However, if it keeps me sane–or is even a major factor contributing to my sanity–it’s worth it. There are some factors that I think make it worth the investment:

  • It’s at home, I don’t have to invest time in travel to go anywhere.
  • My kids can see me doing it. That means that I’m a role model, but also that they can say they’d like to give it a try. They’ve all been on it a little. Further, it’s something that the oldest has mentioned as a way to help him manage his blood sugar.
  • It’s something I start and then do all the way through, requiring willpower only once. I’d found myself delaying between exercises when I did other workouts and taxing my willpower over and over again to get things done.
  • It should hold it’s value. I’m reasonably confident that, if I don’t get into it, I’ll be able to sell it for at least a thousand Euros and be four hundred Euros smarter. We’ll see. If I do, I’ll adjust my running costs.

As a motivation, I’m keeping track of the number of workouts I do and trying to get myself to lower the cost of each individual workout. So, this first workout cost the whopping thousand four hundred euros but, as soon as I do another workout on Wednesday, the cost of each workout sinks to €719.92.

My long-term goal is €2/workout (720 workouts), but next I’m aiming at €143.99 (10 workouts).

We will see…