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Work It Out, Boston: Renegade Rowers

Posted by Alexa Pozniak  October 11, 2013 08:08 PM

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Clad in baggy basketball shorts and equally-loose workout jerseys that were drenched with sweat, four groups of teenage boys polished off a fast-paced 200-meter run with punishing sets of push-ups and sit-ups. At first glance, one might assume they were basketball players or perhaps track athletes. But off in the distance was a body of water with boats and oars stacked up along the shore -- tools of the trade for rowers such as themselves.

Around 40 students from Wayland and Weston high schools are set to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta. To train for the big event, they have coupled their regular water sessions with CrossFit-based Renegade Rowing workouts with hopes of becoming faster and stronger, both inside the boat and out.

A common misconception is that the biomechanics behind rowing center strictly around the arms. But it’s actually the legs that provide the most power behind each stroke, propelling each rower forward and back. The shoulders, back, and core play supporting roles.

Practice kicked off with a half-hour of land-based exercises. Workouts of the day (or WOD in CrossFit-speak) typically include body-weight exercises ranging from air-squats to burpees. But the specific exercise is only part of Renegade Rowing’s strategy. The boys were broken up into teams according to which boat they rowed in. They were told to perform each set of movements in unison. The goal is to transfer this choreography to the boat, where being perfectly in synch with each other often means the difference between winning and losing.

Next, it was time to hit the water for an hour-and-a-half of rowing. All of the teens told me the land-based workouts have boosted their performance in the boat.

The entire practice session was tough, and judging by the look on most of their faces, tiring. But after a long day of school, it got them outside, exercising, and often laughing, which is good for both the body and mind. The sport of rowing also teaches the boys about camaraderie and competition -- all winning ingredients that they hope will translate into taking home the top prize at this month’s big race.

Renegade Rowing, Allston;; see web site for pricing and class schedule for all ages/abilities.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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