Saturday, March 10, 2007

To Erg or Not to Erg...

How I wish I could see this panoramic view soon:

That's the view when I do indoor rowing at Fitness First Ortigas (located at the penthouse level of Winsome building). Talk about rowing with a view...

Being sick is definitely not good news for me. Not only does it make me miss doing important and critical work (in an institution whose idea of stress relief is making fun of other people behind their back) but it makes me miss the gym, which unfortunately for me, is close to what I can get to a social life nowadays. It's funny that it's so easy to get your body deconditioned (that is, lose the hard-earned tone of your muscles and belly)... you gain nothing, but more fat. All one needs is 3 days off the gym, a little out-of-the schedule snack, a slight tug of depression and worry and tons of work to put your mind into binge mode. All hell breaks lose!

In one of the replies a few blogs ago, I mentioned how excited I was to receive a message from Xeno Muller, an Olympic rowing champion, who mentioned that it was great that I was incorporating rowing in my workout. Indeed, I make sure that I row at least 2000m of per gym visit, working towards a regular 5000m to 10000m workout. This is also in preparation for a self-imposed half- and full marathon.

I started indoor rowing when I joined Fitness First in 2005, and the geek that I am, made sure I knew how to correctly use all the electronic exercise machines in the gym. The indoor rowing machines, or 'ergs' as they are commonly called in other countries are (I think) the most unpopular exercise machines in the club. I'm not really sure why, but I think people don't know the proper rowing technique and understand the benefits of rowing... If done correctly, indoor rowing could be the most efficient fat-burning exercise in the gym. Rowing basically consists of 4 actions: the catch, the drive (with emphasis on the leg, body swing and arm pull through), the finish and the recovery. Each phase consists of coordinated muscle action that requires application of force in a repetitive, maximal and smooth manner and employs all large muscle groups.

Concept2, the company that manufactures these excellent ergs provides enough motivation to the thousands of users of their machines around the world by hosting an online personal logbook where registered members are allowed to record their times/distances finished. There is also a ranking feature where you decide to enter your best times and see how you compare to other rowers. I'm not that bad though, having my best 500m timed at 1:36.3, 2000m at 7:53.7 and 5000m at 19:52.1 and 10000m at 44:09.6... Still needs improvement! Concept2 also arranges regular challenges for its members. The most recent major challenge I completed was the 2006 Holiday Rowing Challenge where interested members should finish 100K or 200K m in 20 days! It was a self-imposed goal (I aimed for the 200K) and I finished well. Soon, I was sent a pin and access to an online certificate, hehe (babaw talaga kaligayahan ko...):

Concept2 Pin

I have yet to join the C2 Million Meter Club where upon reaching 1 million meters or more, you join the elite list of finishers, and be awarded with a certificate, a pin and T-shirt. As of my last work-out, which was a week ago, I have completed 468,000 m already... Malapit na!

Recently, Concept2 and Row2K sponsored a YouTube video-making contest with prizes including cash and gifts. I was supposed to join this video contest, however, due to time constraints and the apparent disinterest of my cinephile brother, Oggie, whom I was seeking help with, I didn't make it to the deadline. I really wanted to win the latest indoor rower machine... Oh well... next time. I realized that they have finished judging the entries already and have already announced the winners. Among the winning video entries here are my favorites:

I would like to confiscate ergs and keep them for my own, if my students dare to do that in the classroom.

I will never look at ergs the same way again...

Something bothers me about her technique, she can hurt her knees...

Sometimes, I wonder why I hum Debussy's 'Claire de Lune' when I row at the gym, while sinking into a nostalgic trance doing a regular 26 strokes per minute rythm. Just now, I realize why:

I hope I convinced enough of you to "incorporate rowing in your workouts" too... It's tough at the start but pretty soon, you can't get enough of it. I have had enough of my nagging headaches, I should get back to the gym. To erg or not to erg... to erg, of course.

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