novembre 01, 2017 3 min read

Rowing? Oh yeah, I tried kayaking too.

Let’s describe a very common conversation - Rower vs Stranger:

Stranger: Oh you are very athletic, what do you do?

Rower: I row.

Stranger: Oh wow! I know! Kayaking that’s great! (He/she starts awkwardly circling his/her shoulders pretending that he/she is kayaking)


Mistaking rowing with kayaking is almost like an insult for a rower and they will always make an evil face when you ask them if they row in a kayak. Not that rowers have something against kayaking! It’s just a totally different sport and maybe rowing is not as popular as kayaking but there are huge disparities between the two, and it’s nice when people know the difference. Just as an example: KAYAKERS go FORWARD, ROWERS go BACKWARDS. Kayakers mainly use their UPPER body, rowers their LOWER body….easy.

So what’s up with your hands, can’t you put on a pair of gloves?

Ok, so let’s make it clear, there are times in a year especially at the beginning of the season when rower’s hands look as if they had a gangrene. It doesn’t happen to everyone but it’s a very common thing. With increased mileage in a boat, blisters tend to go away, hands simply have to get used to the rowing grip. YES, they look disgusting, they bleed, skin peels off, and YES it hurts. But despite all that rowers just don’t wear gloves. You want to know why? Because their hands would look probably even worse, due to constant hand movement which would create more blisters. So although it seems to be a smart thing to do don’t tell rowers to wear gloves unless you want to hear a simple coldblooded NO as an answer.

Do you wear sneakers in the boat?

Nope. Another obvious question for rowers but not for amateurs, rowers take their normal shoes off before they step into the boat. They have a special foot stretcher with shoes attached for good inside of the boat…normal shoes stay on the docks that’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when you see a rower coming in fancy flip-flops to the practice…it’s not fashion, it’s a lifestyle ;)

What are YOU wearing? (when seeing a rower in a unisuit).

This is a difficult subject. All rowers wear a one piece, tight like a glove, spandex. The spandex may have different colors, according to the club or country represented…which doesn’t change the fact that it’s TIGHT and it shows off different body parts….

Some rowers love their unisuits, they have different collections and they them exchange with others. SOME rowers hate wearing spandex and they only do so during rowing regattas. We can’t say that it’s mandatory, but it’s simply the most comfortable outfit designed for rowing, and unless you are rowing on a single, you have to wear matching clothing with the rest of your boatmates. So even if belly rolls stick out here and there (very embarrassing), rowers have to deal with it holding their heads high up, acting as this is their TOP outfit. Simply don’t ask a rower about it, focus on your own outfit instead.

So during winter, you have a vacation?

Here’s the thing, yes, rowing is an outdoor sport, and it’s quite difficult to row when it snows and the rivers/lakes are frozen, but that doesn’t mean that rowers take a break from working out. You might be surprised but they actually work out MORE during offseason! Weightlifting, cross-country skiing, hiking, running, erging, running, swimming, indoor cycling… oh yes, they do all that.. and it takes hours, maaany hours. But then when the season comes they are so fit that you should think twice before challenging them in any physical activity… these people workout all year long and they are tough to beat!

Author: Anna Wierzbowska


-Pictures-Anna Wierzbowska.

- Gbuckhorn. “What's Not to Lycra?” Hear The Boat Sing, 12 Apr. 2016,