Business Profile

Row, Row, Row Your Bloat…..

By Lani Gering

Row, Row, Row Your Bloat…..

That’s an odd headline, right? It does, however fit right in with the subject matter of this month’s Business Profile. The Row House Old Town blipped across my radar a couple of weeks ago and I have been smitten ever since. Anyone that truly knows me probably thinks this is a new “Happy Hour” joint on the water in Old Town but alas, it is one of the most amazing “Workout” joints in the area. Yes….I have found a workout that I think I can stick with. This will be the first time since the late 80’s when I took “JazzerciseLike the name implies, the Row House is a place where you go to “row”…and a little more if you like. The “boats” aka ergs in this case aren’t vessels on the water but are machines that glide seamlessly in place in a cool, literally, room with fun lighting and invigorating music. The concept of the Row House workout includes building both aerobic endurance and muscle strength all in one session. A combination of classes are offered that incorporate resistance training in conjunction with rowing and stretching. ”! I am taking this opportunity to get a head start on rowing my “bloat” – from holiday eating that is sure to take place – away before it gets even more out of hand.

I always knew that swimming exercised virtually every muscle in your body without an impact on any joints, but until I met with Row House Old Town’s General Manager, Cynthia Svendsen, I didn’t realize that rowing engages over 86% of your muscles including your arms, legs, core and back without any impact on any joints as well. This is good for any of you who have had joint repair or replacement surgery. Classes are structured so that members of all levels of ability can participate in the same class. This makes for a fun group. I was a brand new person in the class that I took and there were people with every level of endurance and tenure in my group. I am admittedly REALLY out of shape but I could keep up and it was a great workout but I didn’t feel like I had been through the wringer after class.

Row House Old Town opened its doors in August 2019 and was going great guns until the spring of 2020 rolled around and the pandemic put things on hold. When mandates were lifted to the point that they could have “safely distanced, masked” members they stepped outside of the “building” and conducted classes outdoors – weather permitting – for those who were/are still leery about being in a room with other people. In fact, they still offer outdoor sessions because it’s just plain fun as well.

The classes are small as there are only 15 ergs in the room and the Coach is easily visible to everyone in the class. One wall is mirrored and if you are in the front rows,  you can catch a glimpse of your form. I checked myself out a couple of times.:-) The low lighting and the tunes are what really add the magic to these classes. The music that Coach Brian chose for the workout was a great combo of tunes from the 80’s and 90’s and other more recent hits. The members in the class discussed doing a Disco tune version in the future. The BeeGee’s Stayin’ Alive and Donna Summer’s Last Dance and Hot Stuff would be stellar tunes to row to.

The class that I took was a noon session that was strictly rowing at different levels in intervals of 2 minutes on, 1 minute rest for a total of about 45 minutes. There was a longer rest midway through the class. This is called the Full Row. There are two other classes: the Signature class is a mix of rowing intervals and low-impact, full-body floor exercises and the Power class is a low impact, high intensity interval training style class guaranteed to get your heart pumping and your muscles pumped up. I believe I will check out the Signature next time and try to schedule intervals of it and the Full Row until I get in better shape and then I’ll add the Power class to the mix.

All three instructors/coaches are experienced Crew members and have spent a significant amount of time on the actual water so are well versed in form and technique. They are all certified in CPR so if you are getting short on breath they know what to do. I have yet to meet the other coaches but Coach Brian did a great job with my first class. He is a local guy who attended and was a member of the rowing team at TC Williams (now Alexandria High). He also rowed in college and is now coaching the men’s team at George Washington University and the Chevy Chase High School team when he isn’t pushing real estate in the local area or conducting classes at Row House.

Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t done anything physical in a long time. There were people at every level in the class I took and we all made it through with flying colors. I think I may have made a couple of new pals that day as well. The fact that they are fans of the Old Town Crier didn’t hurt any either.

I might mention that you don’t have to bring anything with you if you don’t want. They have water and towels and all of the equipment you need is on the premises including yoga mats. There are lockers if you need one. Like Cynthia told me, “The only thing you have to do is make sure that you walk through the door!”

Row House is located in the new Old Town North area of Alexandria in the same complex/building as West Elm, Oak Steakhouse and the Gables Condominiums. For information on memberships and to register for classes, call or go online.

Row House Old Town

917 North St. Asaph

Old Town Alexandria



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