Rowing toward the ‘Perfect Calorie Burn’

Indorow5 Josh Crosby is a third-generation rower who was a Gold Medalist at the 1992 Junior World Rowing Championships and helped bring his crews on the Brown University Rowing Team to two National Championship titles.

His frame is sinewy and strong. When he tells you he plans to beat the rowing time his grandfather set at age 94 – five years after he had both knees replaced – you do not doubt he will.

But determination alone won't get you far in the fitness industry. You need a great product. Something that works like nothing else will. Enter Crosby's Indo-Row, an indoor rowing machine that is the foundation of group fitness classes taking off around the country.

When Crosby decided several years ago to try and bring indoor rowing to the group fitness arena, plenty of fitness veterans and industry experts thought he was in for a big disappointment. Fast forward to today, and Josh gets to say, "Told ya so."

The Indo-Row, along with the RealRyder, was an undisputed hit at the SCW Mania fitness conference I attended this past weekend in Atlanta. People of all ages, sizes and fitness levels walked out dripping, legs and arms pumped with blood, and smiling.Indorow1

Take one Indo-Row class, and it's easy to understand why.

Unlike those traditional row machines you often see cramped into a neglected corner of the gym, the Indo-Row uses real water – not wind – for resistance.The Indo-Row is as close as you can get to rowing without actually being out on the water.

It offers a unique yin and yang that seems contradictory, yet totally works. The Indo-Row is athletic, yet rythmic. Indo-Row classes are a strength workout, recruiting nine major muscle groups with each stroke. They're also a challenging cardio workout. They are about you competing against every person in the room, but coming together as a team.

Indorow2 "Every time you get on the Indo-Row, you can push yourself to different levels," says Indo-Row program developer and fitness expert Jay Blahnik. "But Indo-Row is also all about teamwork."

Indo-Row classes are structured to include a mix of endurance tests, varying speed and strength drills, and always a finale of team competitions in which groups are racing for the gold.

It's fun, it's different, and most importantly it will kick your Badass. Like "my legs are shaking, my heart is racing and I might just lose breakfast right here." But when your team is going full bore in a 100-meter relay, and when that relay is done and your endorphins are pumping, you can't help but think, "Give me more!"

Blahnik added Indo-Rows to his California gym several years ago, and it quickly took off – more than any other new class the gym has added in 25 years, he said. Before long, they doubled the number of IndoRows and eventually spent $100,000 converting an old boathouse into an IndoRow facility just to meet demand.

"We saw professional athletes, we saw beginners, all congregating together in a way we hadn't seen before," said Blahnik, whose resume includes top rankings from Shape magazine and Men's Health and working as a consultant for a consultant for Nike, Nautilus and BOSU.

My guy, (former) professional athlete and cycling instructor David Griffin, excelled at the Indo-Row in Atlanta and took home the title of "Indo-Row King," rowing 724 meters in two minutes.Indorowdavid Taylor said the only other guy he's seen go that strong and fast was the U.S. rower who won a bronze medal.

Each machine has its own dashboard that shows meters rowed (or traveled) and pace. So there you are, following the pace set by the instructor but maybe traveling faster because your row stroke is deeper, stronger, more powerful.

"The best thing about rowing is, anyone can do it," Crosby said. "By age 93, my grandfather needed a cane and he couldn't walk very well. But he could still row."

Blahnik loves the Indo-Row because it offers people who are less fit but trying to get fitter something at which they can excel. The average calorie burn with an IndoRow class is 400 to 800 calories depending on your size, but you burn all that with a lower perceived exertion than – say – running on a treadmill until you burn 800 calories.

That's because you're sitting, so your weight is displaced. Blahnik says that often, heavier classgoers do better because their legs often are bigger and more powerful — and the Indo-Row technique is 60 percent legs, 20 percent core, 20 percent arms.

"They come in here, and it's something they can excel at," Blahnik says. "Right away, they get that confidence to keep coming back. I teach a running class, and sometimes it takes a client six months to get to that confidence level. The Indo-Row gets you there faster."

Confidence, calorie-torching AND a stronger Badass? I'll take it! No wonder the Indo-Row slogan is "The Perfect Calorie Burn."

Coming Wednesday: Badass Foodie says Mangia!

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