I can’t believe that the last time I did an in-depth studio review was before Thanksgiving. The holidays must have taken over more than I realized. Now that I have a routine again, you’ll be seeing a few studio reviews in the upcoming weeks. Today’s is CityRow, the first water-based rowing machine class in New York City.
I contacted Founder Helaine Knapp the same day Well + Good NYC announced that CityRow would open during Fall 2013. As someone who loves using a rowing machine in my high intensity interval circuits, I knew I would love an entire workout based around the machine. While Helaine and her team perfected the studio and its innovative classes, I continued to
stalk her follow up to find out when I could visit for the first time. The doors finally opened on January 6, and I signed up for a class with Shaun Jenkins last week.
What Others Said
“The man is a nut case. He was so freakin’ intimidating I nearly wet myself. He was like, grunt-barking these emotional power shots at us I was like YOU BETTER MOVE FASTER GIRL. Or else he might explode. But in reality, he’s the sweetest chicken nugget ever.” — SweatPump
What I Thought:
Being that it was less than two weeks old, the CityRow studio was pristine. It’s a smaller space on the 15th floor of a building near Union Square (currently no locker rooms), but being above street level actually allowed fresh air to flow through open windows. Yes, the windows were open in 30-degree weather. Felt great once we started to sweat. The studio includes a lobby, as well a massive studio space filled with rowing machines and mats. As I arrived, Shaun was bouncing around the room to help people get set up.
When I told coworkers I was going to a rowing machine-based class, they thought I was crazy to row for 50 minutes straight. But Signature Row is more than that. Yes, about 30 of the 45 minutes are spent alternating between slow rowing and sprints, but the other 20 minutes are spent doing strength exercises on the mat. As for the the rowing, Shaun had a mantra that he repeated to help us engage our muscles in the right order: Legs, Core, Arms, Arms, Core, Legs. Drive through the legs. Lean back with a straight upper body. Pull the arms in just below the chest. And reverse in one fluid motion. The sprints were tough, but I quickly decided the water-based machines were far superior to traditional rowing machines. Resistance was created in a tub of water at the front of the machine. Row harder, and you get more swirling and splashing. I kept wanting to row in time with the music like a cycling class. Wondering if they can make that happen.
The strength intervals focused on core and legs. Core exercises mostly took place in the plank position–knee to elbow, thread arm through, etc. We also held yoga-inspired positions like boat pose. And in addition to the leg work you get on the rowing machine, the squats and lunges on the mat only add to the burn. Each exercise was performed for 30 seconds, which I felt was too short of an interval. I think 45 seconds gives you enough time to transition, find good form, and really work the muscle. Otherwise, I thought the strength moves were a great compliment to rowing. If strength intervals aren’t your thing, CityRow also offers Row & Flow, which subs in Vinyasa flow and stretching for the weights.
Location: 80 Fifth Avenue, 15th Floor
New Client Special: 3 classes for $90
NOTE: CityRow allowed me to visit for a free class, but I was in no way compensated to review it on my blog. These are honest opinions.