Have You Tried Rowing? You Should Try Rowing

Last summer, GM got a bum heel and had to give up running for a while. Because he still likes beer, ice cream and other highly caloric treats, he needed to find a replacement exercise. And he found it right here in Georgetown at Thompson’s Boat House: recreational rowing.

While GM had experience with other boating modes, like kayaking, canoeing or sailing, his rowing experience was limited to an inflatable boat when he was a kid (dubbed “My Yacht”). And rowing is not something you can just jump into without some training. But luckily Thompson’s is all set up to offer it. So GM signed up for a series of sculling classes.

And that is why he found himself standing around Thompson’s with a group of strangers at 6:15 AM one Monday last July.

That day, GM and his classmates spent an hour and a half learning the basics of how to scull. (Rowing has two basic styles: sculling, where you have two oars; and sweeping, where you have one. So long as you plan on rowing by yourself, you need to scull. With two people, up to eight, you can sweep or scull, although sculling is unusual for boats over four people.)

And then the following day, and the rest of the week, he and the rest of the class were back on the docks at 6:15 AM getting into boats and getting the hang off it. By the end of the week, GM was certified to rent out a boat from Thompson’s.

And then for the rest of the summer, GM, along with a whole community of other rowers, stopped by Thompson’s on the way to work a couple days a week and spent some time out on the water. Thompson’s rents out the boats for $17/hr, or you can get a season pass for $242 and get unlimited rentals all season long (this includes canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards at all the boathouses on the river.)

It’s really an incredibly peaceful way to get a full-body workout. And it can be as intense, or leisurely as you choose. GM has three different routes he navigates throughout the week: a trip around Roosevelt Island, a trip downriver to the 14th St. Bridge and back, and a trip up river past the university and back. He finishes the route, then hops back on a bike and heads off to work.

You’ll share the river with some fairly serious boaters, either from local schools or even some professionals. They can get a little intense. But as long as you stay towards the right bank, you’ll be ok.

GM has zero desire to ever race in a single regatta or to treat this as anything other than a pleasant way to get some exercise in. And if you’re looking for a change, you ought to sign up for some classes and spend some time on the river.

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