Experts predict indoor rowing to boom in 2018
Experts predict indoor rowing will be the hottest fitness trend of 2018 and double Olympic champion Alex Gregory could not be happier.
Gregory won coxless four gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 in an international career that spanned 12 years – a period of his life that regularly saw him sat on a rowing machine, churning out the kilometres in search of success.
But while the indoor rowing machine is typically associated with those who ply their trade on the water, recent years have seen its popularity boom as an alternative to treadmills and static bikes in gyms.
Research conducted by British Rowing has revealed a huge growth in the demand for indoor rowing group exercise classes, following in the footsteps of the fitness craze that has swept across New York.
And with the benefits including a full body workout at low impact, weight loss and improved muscle and joint mobility, the sport's popularity is expected to rise even further over the coming months.
"Throughout my career, we used the rowing machine every day, in nearly every session," said five-time world champion Gregory.
"It was a massive part of our training because it takes out the discrepancies that the boat provides, for example your balance or timing with crew members.
"The rowing machine takes that away and allows you to really focus on your fitness, your strength and your score.
"It's really exciting to see so many people take to the rowing machine. The more people we can get involved, the more benefits we will see.
"It's not just about fitness though, it's about body awareness and knowing how your body moves."
As a result of their research, indoor rowing has become a major focus for British Rowing with the development of Go Row Indoor.
Targeted at gym-goers and health and fitness enthusiasts, the specific indoor rowing product includes three class models to be rolled out in studios and gyms across the country in 2018.
"While we've done lots of work around indoor rowing, we really wanted to focus on developing it as a health and fitness product for gym-goers," said Helen Rowbotham, director of innovation at British Rowing.
"Over the last year or so, there has been a significant increase in the number of indoor rowing-focused boutique group fitness offers, particularly in cities like New York, where you often see new trends emerge.
"In terms of participation here in the UK, the numbers are quite staggering. We know there are currently 1.3 million indoor rowers, more than 13.1 million people have used an indoor rowing machine and 15.8 million people would consider using one.
"At the heart of Go Row Indoor is fitness professional training. There's a huge gap in the knowledge of both fitness professionals and gym goers as to good technique."