I am always excited when any workout that includes rowing is in the mix but I haven’t been able to find a rowing-focused spot that got me giddy before winding up at Row House on Saturday afternoon. Row House is a new studio on 59th, between 10th and 11th street, opened by Eric Von Frohlich and his wife Debra Frohlich, who have been in the fitness industry for over a combined 35 years. Rowing studios seem to be popping up all over recently but most have had a hard time figuring out how to be a killer cardio workout without trying to be a spin class on rowers.
I dragged the fella with me to this class because it was on a Saturday, in a neighborhood we never go to, and I really do so love a weekend adventure. I mapped it out but when we were actually walking there from the Subway, it seemed like I must have gotten it wrong but it really is almost to the Hudson on 59th! The space is on the ground floor of a large apartment building and is very minimal but pretty. We got all checked in and plopped down on a bench to strip down our layers to get ready for class. The studio doesn’t have locker rooms or separate changing rooms, but there are two big bathrooms and a huge storage rack to store your stuff. Since we had come fully prepared, we dropped our stuff and headed into class. There are about 12 rowers in the studio that are flanked by a cool Row House logo wall on one side, a black and white cityscape opposite and mirrors in the front.
Debra was leading the class but Eric was there too and joined in the fun. We went through and introduced ourselves before the class started. Our group was apparently surprising because we all had experience on the rowers. I’ve used the Concept 2 Rowers a lot in CrossFit recently but it was SO helpful to hear the smart form cues – where our feet should be in the holders, body position, and how to be seamless in movement. The first few minutes were spent with a slow stroke build, so that Debra could get us all on the same rhythm, and then launched into interval counts that ramped up the intensity of the strokes.
With the music going, the first 10 minute chunk flew by. Then, it was off the rower for squats, planks and sit-ups using the ab mats CrossFit loves so much. Then, back on the rower for another 10 minute session. This time, instead of going by stroke counts for the intervals, they were timed. These ten minute pushes were brutal and left me gasping by the end (in the best possible way). It always amazes me how hard rowing can be for such a low impact activity! At the end of the second push, the fella looked over at me and shook a fist at me for bringing him to class but then grinned and mouthed “This is AWESOME!”. Then, it was back on the floor for another ten minute section of lunges, sandbell slams (I loved this squat–throwing-the-weight combo), more planks and finishing off with burpees. Debra was awesome but for me would occasionally give us a few too many options for variations on the floor– but then again I tend to like fewer options so I don’t get confused! It was about the only thing I would have changed about this kickass, challenging and fun class. The last rowing segment was a 5 minute all-out push. Debra warned us: “I’m just going to let you row and at the 2 ½ minute mark, I want you to look at your number and double it. GO!”. That last push left me absolutely gasping and so giddy. I’d found the rowing class I had been hoping for!
I liked it so much that I would totally trek over there from Brooklyn again… and that is saying a lot!
Row House Logo, studio shot, image of Debra from Row House NYC and bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.