Book a Trial
Moving Well


Inspired by the Dragon Boat season? See how the humble rowing machine can be a tremendous ally.

18 Jun 2020

The Dragon Boat Festival takes place next week in Hong Kong, and that usually means the start of the summer heat, beach trips, boat journeys, and showing off golden-brown tanned skin.

If you live by the sea, you may have noticed the Dragon boat teams training in the cooler hours of the mornings and evenings recently, rowing in unison to the rhythmic drum beats, arms taut with sweat and glistening as they push through floating finishing lines. 

If you are inspired by the dedication, teamwork and trust that Dragon Boat rowers have and dream about doing it, but feel like you need to firm up your arms and shoulders before joining a team, read on to see how the humble rowing machine can be a tremendous ally. 

1) Full Body Cardio

Rowing simultaneously provides cardiovascular and strength training, working about 85% of your body – using your arms, legs, back, and core to burn calories just as well if not better than cycling or running. A total body workout means you still get your valuable cardio, but also get to train muscles for endurance and strength (and not just for your arms).

2) Less Impact

Since you are seated, rowing doesn’t have any of the same issues that running causes on your knees, ankles and hips, pounding on the (usually hard) ground. A reduced impact on your joints means you’re less likely to be injured and may even recover faster between workouts. 

3) Easy Variations

Not unlike a spin machine or exercise bike, rowing machines are great tools that let you easily track your training variables, meaning you can set a specific Time or Distance as your goal. Other variations are managing your Strokes per minute, and easily adjusting Resistance levels to encourage further progression.  

4) Accessible HIIT 

Many exercises cater to the growing trend of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and the rowing machine is particularly well suited to this - You can easily transition from high intensity periods to slower, easy strokes without worrying about moving from your space or from your seat. On the RPE scale, a HIIT should have you up to 7+ to get your heart-rate higher, before coming back down to a 3-4 for a few seconds, before repeating.

The advantage of periodic breaks will mean a greater volume of total exercise, and more frequent levels of faster, harder intensity. This kind of workout also encourages ‘Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’ or EPOC, which basically means you continue to burn calories after you’ve finished exercising. 

5) Learning a New Skill

Your form or technique is going to be essential in rowing, and using the incorrect form will not only be inefficient, but you may start to feel discomfort in your back and other areas, (always stop if you feel pain). Ask your trainer for pointers or advice on how to use the machine properly, and what kind of workout session you can plan. Here’s a quick 20-minute rowing workout session to get you started: 

  1. 5 minutes - Warm up.
  2. 10 minutes - Alternate 40 seconds of hard rowing /20 seconds of easy rowing.
  3. 5 minutes - Cool down.

Come for a chat at the front desk, or ask one of our Certified Fitness Coaches who will be more than happy to give you helpful advice on using the rowing machine with the proper technique, so you can get the most out of it in the shortest space of time. They’ll also identify the safe range you can train at, depending on your mobility, and encourage you with the right stretches to improve your range.  


Don’t forget to measure your progress. There’s never a better time to check your body composition than before starting a new exercise or training technique, so you can really see the improvements in your health and fitness as you go further.