1. Rowing can burn around 800 calories in one hour.
Like any other fitness class, you get in what you put out. But if you come to class ready to work, you'd be surprised how much fat you can blast. "Comparable to any other workout of the same amount of time, rowing burns the most because it's a total body workout," says Arielle Childs, Concept 2 certified trainer, instructor at Row House in New York City.
2. Rowing works muscles ignored by other forms of cardio.
"Rowing is 30 percent core, 10 percent upper body and arms, and the rest is legs," says Childs. Get the most out of your core and upper body with the right form: Start with the "catch," which begins the stroke. (Your feet are flat; you're coiled up with knees bent and heels slightly raised; your arms are extended fully in front of you holding the handle as far past your feet as you can reach.) Then, drive with your legs to propel your seated body backwards, until your legs are fully extended. Lean back at a slight angle, hinging from your hips. End by pulling the handle into your chest. Reverse the order on the way back: Extend your arms out forward, hinge your hips forward, then bend your legs, so you're back in a coil and ready to catch again.
3. Rowing can help with posture.
"You're pulling the handle back against resistance and weight, which forces you to open up your shoulders and chest, and to use the muscles in your shoulders and back," explains Childs. In time, this can improve overall posture and help you stand taller.
4. Rowing carves your abs in a way other machines can't.
Forget sit-ups! Each time you catch, or begin your rowing stroke, you contract your abdomen to help you complete the movement. "If you're using correct form, you're stabilizing your whole midsection," says Childs. In her class and many others, instruction begins without even using the handle. "Many people use the handle as a crutch," she explains. "So without that, you feel the difference in your core because it's constantly engaged, both on the way out and in."
5. It's a stretch for your back.
"As you pull back as far as possible, you're stretching your back and hamstrings," says Childs. Over time, you may find that you're able to stretch even farther without pain or pulling muscles.
6. It's low impact.
Rowing doesn't put any extra pounding on your body. The whole workout is extremely low impact, making it a great way to stay fit if you're, say, experiencing a running injury.
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