OCOEE In most gyms, a piece of equipment sits off in the corner. It’s rarely used and collects dust.
That piece of equipment is a rowing machine.
Many people don’t know how to use it correctly. But done right, the machine can provide a full-body workout for people of all fitness levels. It’s also low impact and does not cause wear and tear to the body as other sports do.
“It’s the best and most neglected piece of equipment in the gym,” said Justin Knust. Knust and Stephen Pryor started Live2Row Studios about four months ago.
“It’s full-body,” Knust said. “If you’re on a bike, you’re primarily working legs, but here, you’re working not just the legs — that’s the primary mover — but you’re also doing core and arms.”
Live2Row is a studio dedicated to the indoor rowing machine and offers group-rowing classes.
The studio is an outlet for people such as Donna Allen. Allen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990.
She has weakness and her left side and her foot is paralyzed. But a WalkAide supports her foot and enables her to walk.
Despite the challenges, Allen has stayed active. After being diagnosed with MS, her two sons kept her active. She also enjoyed walking in the mall and working out at the YMCA.
Recently, she did yoga to stay active. But then one of her yoga friends drove by Live2Row and decided to check it out. After enjoying it, she told Allen about it.
Allen came and tried it out. She now has been rowing for three months.
“I decided that I liked it so much,” she said.
She now has a membership that enables her to come as often as she wants, and she works out there five days a week.
“It makes me feel good,” she said. “I mean, sometimes I feel good while I’m doing it, but sometimes I don’t. But I’m always motivated enough to get up in the morning even though I’m a night owl.”
In her three months of rowing at the studio, Allen has reached nearly 400,000 meters on the machine.
HOW IT STARTED
The gym’s grand opening was Aug. 8, although it had been open for two weeks before that.
Pryor and Knust met each other at Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere, where they both competed in high school. Both locals, Pryor graduated in 2005 from West Orange High School, and Knust graduated in 2002 from Dr. Phillips High School.
Both are still active in the rowing community and at OARS. Pryor has coached rowing since 2005.
Knust competed on the rowing team at the University of Florida. He coached both novice rowers and the varsity mens team at UF after his time competing, and he is now a coach at OARS.
The first class is free, and no experience is necessary.
“It’s kind of a strange machine,” Pryor said. “No one’s comfortable getting on it. And the people who are — they’re still apprehensive. They’re not sure if they’re doing it correctly or anything along those lines.”
Knust rowed, and Pryor was a coxswain.
“I was the small guy in the back of the boat that calls commands, coaches and steers the boat,” Pryor said. “I was the little guy yelling at the big guys.”
They hope that their gym draws off their experience in rowing and teaches people the right technique.
“It’s kind of nice because he has his interpretation of the rowing stroke from the rowing perspective, and I have the same sort of thing but from an outsider’s perspective,” Pryor said. “It helps us when teaching all sort of individuals how to pick up the rowing stroke.”
Rowing machines cater to the level of each person rowing, so people of different athletic abilities can sit beside each other in class.
“We want to be able to offer an alternative that’s for the people (who) can’t really fit in anywhere else,” Knust said. “And that’s kind of like what rowing is. Like me. I got cut from the freshmen football team. Who gets cut from the freshmen football team? But I did, and then I rowed four years and I ended up getting recruited by Brown and Harvard.”
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].