The Class: Indo-Row at CrowBar Cardio. This 45-minute session is taught five days a week, but it’s not your only chance to row. The Triple Threat and Tsunami 60 classes also incorporate the Indo-Row machine in their format.
The Appeal: Watching Frank and Claire Underwood take out their frustrations on the water-filled rowing machine on last season’s House of Cards made me eager to try one. My rowing experience is limited to one failed attempt to get a canoe across a river at summer camp back in the sixth grade, so I knew I was in for a challenge. The class description claims to provide a full-body, low-impact workout that “captures all the elements of competitive, on-water rowing.”
The Instructor: Katherine Bahlburg comes by her surfer girl vibe honestly. She’s friendly, tall, blonde, laidback, and fierce on the rowing machine. Living in Hawaii gave her the chance to hone her skills as an athlete, coach, and trainer in a gorgeous tropical setting.
The Space: The studio has one multifunctional room with mirrors and dance bars on either side and another room dedicated to their “Real Ryder” spin bikes. The rowing machines are rolled out in two rows inside the multi-use room to face one another while the instructor sits on her own raised rowing machine facing the class.
Who’s There: This is a slightly older crew with more men than I’ve seen in other studios. I suspect the location and the fact that the gym offers low-impact fitness draws in older clients or people with injuries. The evening I attended Indo-Row, we had an all-female class of five dressed in casual gear (shorts, t-shirts, slouchy tanks, etc.), and all appeared to be between 30 and 50 years old.
How It Went: We took a few minutes to focus on proper form and technique because two of us were new. We practiced straightening our legs as we pushed off of the foot board before we leaned back using our core, then pulled the handles to our chest with our elbows out wide. This sounds much easier than it is because the machines are filled with water so you’re constantly working against the pressure of the spinning arms inside the tank. I struggled to keep up as we set off on our first “wave.” Bahlburg would give us a number (representing intensity) to hit, and we would work towards it while we rowed together as a class. My coordination got the best of me a few times, but Bahlburg would quickly correct me and help me get back into the flow of the class. The loud whooshing sound that flooded the room when we were all rowing in sync kept me from focusing on the burning muscles in my legs and created an air of calm determination in the room.
After rowing through two long waves, we slowed down to catch our breath and pick our World Cup-themed team names so we could end class with a relay race. I’m not proud of my performance. At this point, I was tired, and my legs were on fire. The first person on each team sat down to row 200 meters while the rest of us suffered through wall sits and cheered them on. When my turn came, I hopelessly tried to strap my shoes in to row, but those grueling moments of fumbling around set my team up for disaster. I gathered my car keys and pride at the cubbies near the door before heading home to recover.
The Aftermath: My legs and shoulders were sore, but I felt great muscle tone all over for the next few days. I couldn’t wait to return for a Saturday class (mostly so I could repair my racing reputation).
Loved: There’s a neighborly vibe from the moment you walk in. Everyone seems to know one another, and the instructors make a point to learn your name and remember you each time they see you. The owner also lets her puppy hang out at the front desk. Who doesn’t like puppies?
Hated: To really push myself, I need great music. I love it when an instructor creates a well-thought-out playlist that flows with the session, and I’ve yet to experience that here. The music is never bad — it’s just an afterthought.
Cost: They are currently offering a $20 unlimited week of classes for new students. This is what I selected, and it gave me a chance to try almost everything the studio has to offer. The rest of the pricing is a little too complicated for my taste. They offer packs of 10-50 classes ranging from $185-$800 or unlimited monthly membership for $160, but there are lots of special event options that don’t fall under the membership umbrella (ballroom dancing, hip-hop dance class, Zumba, yoga, etc.) so you would wind up spending much more if you wanted to participate in special series. I would love to see everything streamlined into one easy monthly payment.
Difficulty Level: The Indo-Row machine is so low impact that anyone can do it. Even if you don’t have the cardiovascular strength to keep up with the instructor, you will get a full-body workout from this class without straining your joints.
Bottom Line: This is a friendly, no-fuss gym that offers a great mix of cardio and strength training classes, private instruction, and nutritional support for all ages and fitness levels.