Explore Rowing opens door to fun, friendly rowing
Rowing is a sport for all, and the nation’s eyes are beginning to open up to the fun, friendly, and adventurous ways to stay in shape with Explore Rowing.
It’s becoming easier and easier for people of all ages and abilities to get out onto the water, thanks to an increasing number of rowing clubs across the country which are offering Learn to Row courses in stable, accessible boats.
One recent convert to Explore Rowing is Jenny Huskinson, who had previously considered a return to any sport an impossibility.
For over two decades, Jenny has suffered from a combination of orthopaedic conditions which have led to constant discomfort during movement, ever-decreasing mobility and, occasionally, the inability even to walk – such is the impact of weight-bearing exercises on her troublesome joints.
With such heavy restrictions on even the most basic aspects of her daily routine, the mere thought of undertaking a new sport seemed impossible to Jenny. However, in February 2011, a moment of opportunity and courage – together with the timely intervention of a British Rowing coach – transformed Jenny’s life forever.
Jenny – the Learn to Row co-ordinator at Nottingham Rowing Club – had always longed to get out onto the water herself, but feared that her medical history would make such an outing unworkable.
‘I had been using a rowing machine for a couple of years,’ she says, ‘though not very regularly. I could make a decent job of the technique, but I was frightened to try it out on the water. I was not very agile, and I just thought there was no way I would be able to do it.’
Jenny’s fears are not uncommon in first-time rowers, who have yet to try a stable boat out for themselves.
What if it’s too painful? What if I fall in the water? Can I even get into the boat?
With the help of Ella Willot – a British Rowing Coaching and Clubs Coach – Jenny managed to overcome these reservations on a momentous day in February, and hasn’t looked back since.
‘It was a bright, sunny day, and Ella just turned to me and asked: “are you in?”. I was helped into the boat and, to my surprise, I could row!’
The boat in question was a stable 4x+ Explore Rowing boat – using the crew boat with the coach as cox, is an excellent tool for teaching those who are a llittle nervous, especially because the quad is much wider than a normal racing boat and much, much more stable; being on the water with others seems to put people at ease too and of course, it only takes a few strokes for the boat to be moving and to get that buzz!.
‘I can’t tell you how elated I felt the first time I actually got the boat moving!
‘It didn’t take long to settle into a rhythm, and I thought to myself: “I don’t care if I’m laid up for days after this, it is so worth it! It’s totally liberating!” It was the most exciting thing I’d done in years.’
Jenny (pictured above) found her newly-acquired freedom on the water invigorating, but worried that the true impact of the movement on her joints might only become clear the following morning.
‘To my surprise, the next day – apart from a rather satisfying ache coming from muscles that hadn’t been used in years – my joints were no worse than usual!
‘The motion of rowing is nothing like running or walking, there’s no jarring or impact on the joints. There’s no weight-bearing in the equation at all, and you only have to drive as much as you want to.
‘Rowing is doing wonders for my general mood and helping to improve my limited mobility and general cardio fitness – which gets to be more of an issue now that I’m in my 50s.
‘I think rowing should be recommended by the National Health Service. So often GPs prescribe exercise for depression and other ailments, and rowing is exhilarating!’
Jenny’s Explore Rowing experience has had such a vast impact on her life that she is determined to spread the word about her new-found pursuit.
‘I am now coxing (steering) the touring quads (four-man rowing boats), and I hope to take the official assessments in order to become a qualified coach! I’m hooked!’
More and more clubs are signing up to the Explore Rowing programme, meaning that fun and friendly Learn to Row courses are now available across the country.
Whether you have simply never considered trying rowing before or – like Jenny – your health always seemed to get in the way, Explore Rowing exists to ensure that you have the best possible introduction to rowing.
For more information about Explore Rowing in the UK, visit www.BritishRowing.org.