Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before but I LOVE ROWING.

When I’m not working on our Always Oarsome business, I’m usually doing something else rowing related. For example running the Learn to Row courses at Warrington Rowing Club. Here’s an insight into what it’s all about.

Learn to Row November 2017
Team L2R

So approximately five times a year, Jen and I run the Learn to Row (L2R) course at Warrington Rowing Club. Although WE organise this we also have the help of a super group of volunteers from our senior and sometimes junior squads. It’s a six week course – two hours a week on a Sunday morning – open to anyone over the age of eighteen.

We generally get a mix of ages and usually more women than men! However this time the majority of the group were over forty and sixty percent were male!

The big day arrives and our “clients” begin to turn up. Some people book on with friends, some come as couples and many come along completely on their own. It’s quite a brave thing to do – to start to learn something new with a group of unknown people.

Some are nervous, some excited, some reluctant – usually those who have been dragged along by a friend! I know this feeling I was recently dragged along to my first kayaking lesson – it was brill by the way!

Most people have watched rowing on the TV – you know The Boat Race? Those “kids” make it look so easy – believe me they have trained for hundreds of hours both on and off the water!

I’m not trying to put anyone off – we have great fun in our L2R sessions and by the end of the course the attendees generally have a good grasp of the rowing technique.

Let’s begin

The first session begins with a quick introduction and safety briefing. Next we check that our “victims” are wearing the appropriate kit. We do not want anyone to be unsafe on the water or uncomfortable.

Following this we head to the gym and the fun begins. Several of our clients may have used a rowing machine (erg) in their local gym (the tricky ones!) and many have never sat on one before (also tricky but less so!)

We go through the basics of the stroke to give them an idea of what to expect and some pointers to bear in mind when in the boat.

Arms, body, legs, legs, body, arms”.

How difficult can it be? Believe me it’s not that straight forward, even less so when you think about it! Eventually we have them all rowing together and we stop the torture, er I mean finish on the ergs and Jen gets the cake tin out – they get really excited, momentarily, until we say we are just collecting valuables to lock away while we are on the water!!! No cakes or biscuits I’m afraid.

And so to the water…

We have really stable, safe boats especially made to make learning to row easy. Think very large plastic baby bath and you’re on the right lines – except these definitely float and are very tricky to turn over!!!

The boats are carried to the landing stage and put on the water and the oars fastened into the gates – the amount of information and new words we have given these people in this first half hour is phenomenal and we haven’t even started rowing yet!!!!

During one of our earliest courses, about week four, one of the ladies asked the question many people wanted to but didn’t dare, apparently!

“What exactly do you mean when you say ‘tap down’?”

After explaining this term we vowed to say at every session please do ask if there are words or terms we use that you are unfamiliar with!!

‘Tap down’ is the very first part of the rowing stroke so to not understand it causes a problem from the beginning!

The students are then seated in the boat and they float to the middle of the water and the real rowing begins.

This is where the ‘team’ part of rowing kicks in. You can have the fittest, strongest, tallest, most competitive people in a boat but if they aren’t team players they are scuppered – the whole lot of them.

A smaller, weaker crew who listen and row together as a team can quite easily make the boat go faster purely with teamwork.

So basically in rowing you follow the person in front of you – moving when they move – their arms, their body, their legs, their legs, their body, their arms. Simples!!

(Remember I said earlier it’s not as easy as you think? Well, even as I sit here writing this I am going through that motion at my desk to make sure I have the correct sequence arms, body, legs, legs….. you must get it by now?)

Putting this into practice does get very tricky because, of course, you are bobbing about in a boat on the water at the same time and water doesn’t stand still!

Miraculously, it all ‘sinks in’ and before very long we have ROWERS!

We have grown our very own team with everyone working together and listening and encouraging each other.

It’s difficult to explain just how proud we become of our ‘newbies’. We look forward to catching up at each session and recapping on things learnt in the previous weeks.

From the safety launch Jen and I see a group of people concentrating, thinking, imagining, smiling and laughing, but most of all we see them working together to make the boat go faster.


The next course starts in 18th February 2018 there are two places available!