Journalism Multimedia Project #1: Erging

  Rowing is obviously a water sport, and therefore confined by certain seasonal restrictions. Once the water gets too cold, the crew team washes and de-rigs the shells (the boats used in crew), places the oars back in storage, and locks up the boathouse for winter. But just because they aren’t getting any time on the water doesn’t mean practice ends for Hofstra Crew. The onset of winter means the beginning of winter training; sprints, miles, weights, circuits, and of course, inevitably, erging.

       An ergometer, affectionately known as an ‘erg’, is an indoor rowing machine (pictured below).

Torture device.

Chances are you’ve seen (and avoided) these things at your local gym. There’s usually one or two, sitting lonely and deserted. This is because the ergometer is a little trickier (not difficult, but trickier) to pick up than your average piece of workout equipment. Unlike treadmills and elliptical, there’s a bit of a learning curve involved.

It’s funny how the whole team dynamic shifts once practice moves from outdoors to indoors. On the water team members work together in boats of two, four or eights. The goal is to move the boat along in the smoothest, most cohesive way possible, which means keeping strokes in sync and pressure even. It’s very much about staying on the same page as your fellow rowers.

Off the water, however, it’s the complete opposite. Workouts are done solo and the goal is no longer to row in harmony but to blow away your rival’s rowing time by as much as possible. Rowers are pitted against one another in timed 2k’s, 5k’s and 10k’s where they are inspired by the pure spirit of competition to row till they (sometimes literally) fall off their ergs.

Rowing ‘prowess’ is defined by three crucial elements; time or meters, stroke rating, and split time. Time and meters are interchangeable; for instance, if you want to row a 2k, you want to row as fast as possible. If you want to row for twenty minutes, you’ll try to row as far as possible. Stroke rating measures how fast you’re moving, and your split time shows you the amount of power with which you’re rowing. You have to keep an eye on all three pieces as you row to be truly successful.

As killer as winter training can be, there’s no denying it gets results, and the extra-competitive edge can serve as a major motivator. Below is a slideshow showing some of the members of the crew team in action, and since my video won’t upload here’s a borrowed clip from Youtube of the ever-exciting erging process:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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