My history with arm strength has been nil since the age of 10, when I attempted to earn the Presidential Fitness Award by being able to perform a series of fitness feats, which culminated in doing three pull-ups (palms facing away from you, not towards you). Despite practice in the gymnastics room at the local university with Dr. Dad, I failed to get my chin over the bar a third time and thus did not earn the blue award (but can I just say I excelled at the number of crunches pumped out in one minute? I always had over 60). Well, it’s taken 18 years, but I finally care about strengthening my arms again.
Thus, I skidaddled over to the YMCA yesterday morning and the rowing machine caught my eye. My cousin Jaye is in insanely good shape from her time rowing on real water, and since I fancy her triceps and biceps, I thought perhaps dry-rowing might be a good way to start on my quest for arm strength. I mosied up to the machine, gave it a quick towel-bath, sat down, and…
Um, have you seen a rowing machine? There’s a weird bench with a sliding seat on it that faces what looks like a giant oscillating fan (though the fan does not actually oscillate…that would be truly bizarre and Star Trek-esque). The sticker that probably touted the directions was falling off (hopefully due to the massive amounts of sweat produced), and since it was o-six-hundred hours, no other gym-goer was around to offer guidance.
As I latched my feet into the holsters, I thought about how it would be so handy in life to have something akin to Microsoft Word’s Clippy. Remember Clippy?
Apparently, Clippy wasn’t terribly beloved by many, but come on! His purpose – to help – was genius. And yes, helpful. Of course, I customized my help-buddy to be Albert Einstein, so the only reason I know so much about Microsoft Word is because of ol’ Albie. He kept me company through all my college papers.
Anyway, imagine if you have a question at the gym, and *poof!* Here comes Gyro the Gym Gnu. Glorious. He’d pop up over the derranged fan-apparatus and then demonstrate proper rowing position in the air. So much better than watching a gnu play air guitar would be watching him bust out some air-rowing. And Gyro the Gym Gnu would hang out until you were comfortable, offering pointers and encouragement. Sometimes Gyro would even show up just for moral support when you did not even need assistance.
Since there is no Gyro the Gym Gnu (get on that, inventors!), personal trainers are pricey, and Dr. Dad lives just far enough way that asking him to come over just to help me with a piece of equipment seemed ludicrous, I had to make do with the internet as being my source of information for all things rowing machine! Here’s what I’ve found out:
According to e-How, rowing is like swimming in the sense that it works your entire body with low impact. The goal is to use as much resistance as you can pull (well, row) in order to get both a muscular and cardiovascular work out. As an added bonus for someone like me who slouches more than Oscar the Grouch, the machine should strengthen your back and your core for improved standing conditions.
I turned to YouTube for actual assistance in rowing:
(I especially enjoyed his tattoo sitting quietly near his elbow. I could imagine Gyro the Gym Gnu kicking it there while I rowed. ) The most important thing to remember seems to be back placement, which makes me wish there were mirrors by these little guys so I can check my positioning. I’ll have to find someone to check on me.
Okay, so…back straight. Evenly distribute the pull. Smooth movements. Might take awhile to get the swing of it (the slide of it?). I can do this and not feel foolish. Not too foolish anyway. I love new things!
Other things I love…
I love how when ducks pick up their feet, the webs all invert together and then expand as the foot is placed back down. It kind of looks like they are doing an intricate dance, and I wish my feet moved like that so I could dance with them.