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There was a time when rowing used to make us all think of burly bougie dudes in Ivy League paraphernalia. But ever since Manhattan’s first row studio opened in 2014, things have changed.
Rowing’s image has completely transformed and the workout is making waves in The Big Apple. Now, by pairing an erg (the indoor rowing machine) with high-intensity interval training, weights, high-energy coaching, and happenin’ beats, rowing workouts are in high demand by yogi’s, strength athletes, and elliptical-lovers alike.
So whether you’re sick of the bike and ready to switch up your routine, have heard that rowing is great for back gains, or you’re simply an adventurous beginner, we’ve rounded up the nine best rowing classes in NYC.
Ready, set, pull.
It’s time to get old school. This Midtown studio is all about focusing on fun by incorporating childhood playground games into their intense, 45-minute full-body workout classes. You’ll get the chance to peg an opponent with a dodgeball, sink a buzzer beating cornhole shot for your team, and maybe even play Simon Says… with strength exercises. And when you’re not playing games — you’ll be rowing. The whole workout has an engaging, interactive, competitive feel that’s reminiscent of your summer camp days.
EVF is where it’s at for Upper West Side CrossFit athletes. But mosey over next door, and you’ll find Row House, a rowing gym that specializes in high-energy, low-impact workout classes. The studio offers six different classes, all of which are sure to get your heart pumping. Try out their Row House HIIT class that mixes, you guessed it, high-intensity interval training with cardio-based calisthenics like burpees and jumping rope. Or hit up their Row House Sculpt for all the crunches and dumbbells you can handle. The best part? Classes are capped at 10 to 15 people, so you’ll definitely get that individual attention you need, especially if you’re new to this whole rowing thing.
Solace is the city’s high-style, luxury Murray Hill home (seriously, there’s succulents) for too cool for school workouts. They may be best known as a CrossFit box with high-tech floors and locker rooms that top most Manhattan bathrooms, but that aside, Solace also offers non-CrossFit classes that you’re not going to want to miss out on. Their Endurance workout is all about developing your engine by using monostructural training (aka rowing). It’s the perfect place for athletes who want a row class that incorporates a little bit everything (and a whole lot of style and intensity). Fitt Tip: sometimes this class subs rowing for the assault bike, so if rowing is your goal, call ahead of time to find out the programming.
EAST END ROW is the Upper East Side’s signature rowing studio that combines low-impact cardio on water rowers with strength training segments. The result — maximum body burn. And the instructors pay special attention to form, so if you’re a beginner, this spot is where it’s at. Once you’ve got the technique down, expect to sweat to hip-hop tunes. That’s right, the whole class is choreographed. Fitt Tip: your first class is only $20, making it the cheapest row spot on the list.
This boutique studio in downtown Manhattan lights the room with candles and blasts top 40 hits while you row your heart out to the beat of the music. Think of it as the SoulCycle of rowing. Each song changes how you row — sometimes you’ll use just your legs or just your arms, but other times, you’ll crank up the intensity in an all-out, full-body sprint. Whatever the routine, you’ll row it out as a group. Plus, you’ll stop in the middle to focus on your arms with two pound weights. Between bicep curls and the rowing, you may not be able to use your arms the next day.
If you’re looking for a workout that emulates an on-the-water row, this is your spot. Don’t expect blasting music or dim lights. Here, they row in unison, guided by the coxswain (okay, fine, the coach). The best part? They’re sticklers for technique, which means if you’re a beginner, these are the guys you want showing you how it’s done. Take their 101 Free Technique Clinic class to get started, then you’ll be ready to try out EngineRm (their signature class), Classic Regatta Series (for New Yorkers with a competitive edge), Circuits for Stability and Strength (for those going for the gains), or Endurance (for when 45 minutes just isn’t enough). Oh, and did we mention this Columbus Circle studio has Olympic athletes as coaches?
CITYROW opened its doors in 2014 and quickly became the most popular rowing studio in NYC. In their signature class, “Cityrow”, expect a killer combo of sweat-dripping cardio, strength training, and rowing drill work… all while listening to some booty-shaking jams in dimmed light. But if you’re looking for something just a little less intense, try out Cityrow Flow, a row-yoga sequence that’s half total body cardio and half Vinyasa flow. Head to their Union Square or Upper East Side outposts for a workout that’s as fun as it is easy on your joints.
ICE NYC is home to CrossFit Below Zero, but this luxe functional fitness facility is way more than just a CrossFit box. It’s also home to six non-CrossFit classes including Arctic Row (they’ve got snow jokes). Their row class is basically HIIT on a rower and it doesn’t disappoint. With rowing intervals interspersed with dynamic strength exercises (we’re looking at you kettlebells and medicine balls), this class serves up the perfect balance of cardio and strength training. Check them out at their Midtown location for a group fitness that’s all about that afterburn.
While New York City can sometimes feel crowded (especially on the subway), BRICK’s two-story, 13,000 square-foot boxes (one in Chelsea and a second in Midtown) will help ward off any feelings of claustrophobia. It may be best known as a CrossFit box, but this studio also offers BX, BRICK’s twist on HIIT that utilizes light weights and rowers to serve up a fast-paced cardio and strength workout. Each location has three fitness studios, a locker room, lounge, free Wi-Fi, a smoothie bar, and even a sauna. And they pride themselves on their family feel, so expect lots of sweaty high-fives after class.
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