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GRowing indoor rowing through the Sport Australia ‘Move It AUS’ Grant

The Rowing Australia GRow Program targets inactive people.  There is a very different approach or appeal that needs to be used to ensure participants return or stay invested in the program. GRow, being particularly targeted at members of the community who would benefit from more activity in their lives, is one of these programs.

When approaching people who are predominantly sedentary, it is important to be completely accepting, and overly encouraging. Everything they are doing with you is a step in the right direction! The fact that they have taken time to come and do this with you is AWESOME! However, they may have difficulty with some activities – feed them encouragement.

Everything we do in these sessions will help to improve the ease in which they approach their activities of daily life. For people who use the rower for the first time, it is extremely useful to take the time to explain which parts of their bodies they are using, how the muscles contract, and how to hold themselves so they don’t get hurt. Those who have not exercised for some time or are over 40 should get checked by their doctor before starting an exercise program. Here’s a step by step guide on teaching someone to row on an indoor rowing machine who has a very low base of fitness:


  1. Take the time to get the person in touch with their body
    If someone hasn’t been active or moved much recently, they may not be completely in touch with how their body moves. Going through some gentle stretching, mobility or yoga-like exercises is a great place to start and begins the warm-up.
  2. Introduce different postures and teach them what their “core” is
    The RA Dynamic warm up poster are a great reference tool to ensure the participants understand how to sit and move on the indoor rowing machine. If participants are unable to identify and activate their core (quite likely), have them lay on the ground, place their fingers reasonably firmly on the inside of their hip bones and do some deep breathing. As they feel the rise and fall of the muscles under their fingers, encourage them to cough, and the core muscles under their fingers will jump out. When they are familiar with this, encourage participants to hold these muscles, and lift one leg at a time only an inch off the ground, keeping these muscles activated.
  3. Warm up off the machine before getting them on the machine
    Some basic and dynamic warm up exercises like star jumps, walking lunges, inch worms, push ups and hip swings will get the body warm and ready to move in an unfamiliar way!
  4. Go through the basic warm up and sequence on the machine
    The basic warm up sequence beginning with arms only, progressing to arms and bodies and eventually up the slide is a good way to introduce the sequence and correct technique. Remember – encouragement!
  5. Break it up! Keep it light and fun
    Try to have no more than 5-10 minutes on the erg when warming up, and then give the participant a break and stretch. Set short intervals to begin with and keep it to time rather than meters so everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. One of our coaches first sessions did 5 x 1 minute on one minute off, twice (with a break) trying to match the metres they went in the first round in the second. The participants loved the challenge and worked up a great sweat in the process
Every part of someone’s journey from sedentary to more active should be celebrated. If you can develop a positive relationship with the participant and the machine and they will keep coming back for more. GRow the indoor rowing world!