Welcome to the serious rower’s paradise. EngineRm is the furthest extreme on the spectrum from Current Fitness: this studio does not mess around with form or timing. Don’t believe us? If you’ve never rowed ON THE WATER before, you need to come in and do their 15 minute 101 workshop before hopping into a class. They don’t care how much erg experience you have.
At this UWS little ditty of a studio, each class is designed to put you in the mindset of being on a rowing team. Stroke together, learn technique, maybe even run through the course of a famous race. Sure, have fun with it, but there’s no straying from the pack to “do your own thing”. While a nice sweat is a bonus side effect, their ultimate goal is proper form and building solid rowing skills. So yea, rowing here is going to be a lot different from the type you do in your HIIT or CrossFit classes. Now, being a “back to basics” studio doesn’t mean they don’t have variety. EngineRm offers four different classes: EngineRm, Regatta Series, Strength + Stability Circuit Series, and Endurance (which is an hour vs. 45 minutes). They recognize that hopping off the erg once and a while for cross training is necessary. Is this more of a straight-laced studio? For sure. But you’ll have actually learned about proper rowing form, which is WAY more than we can say about other classes that just toss people on an erg. Here’s this 2 second tutorial on rowing now you have 30 seconds to row 500 meters, GO! And then y’all are like “No, I can’t do the rowing section because it makes my back hurt”. Hard truths people, hard truths!
Step on up to the Regatta Series! This one sounded fun to us because we feel super comfortable in our rowing form and didn’t feel like reviewing the basics. That’s right folks, no stale interval series or fundamentals here: every stroke and interval set is based on an actual race from some fabulously preppy Ivy League regatta, national championship, international race, etc. etc. etc. Point is, you aren’t aimlessly rowing. Instead, you’re transported to the course where you and your classmates are on a team together. Hell, there’s even a large TV in the studio to review old race footage in prep for class. Yes it’s nerdy, but let’s roll with it, shall we?
The warm up allows you to find your pacing together as a group and learn about the breakdown of sprinting vs. paddling. After a quick stretch, we got into race mode. And y’all, we used the monitor for a lot more than the “just row” function. Each of our 1:40 sections (about 500 meters) were clocked for stroke rate (strokes/minute) and watts (stroke power). Everything is broken up into 500 meter segments and we learned the proper speed for speeding up and slowing down that wouldn’t literally “rock the boat”. Sweat wise, we hardly broke one. But by rowing with a bit more precision than we do in our other classes, we felt way more sore in our abs and legs.
Michael reminded us so much of our dad with his t-shirt tucked into his shorts, a polite but appropriate demeanor, and endlessly welcoming questions – You good? Does anyone need anything? How was that? He is a co-owner of the studio and comes with pretty wicked impressive credentials in rowing. He’s a former member of the Yale heavyweight rowing team (class of ‘80) and gold medalist at the Henley Masters Regatta. Every writeup on indoor rowing suggests that he and his brother Chris, also an instructor and former collegiate rower, be credited with offering the first indoor rowing class in ‘95. And his old classes at the UWS Y had waitlists of 10+ people. Now those are some damn endorsements right there!
But, in 2018, where lights and music play such a huge role in fitness classes, we confess his class felt a little strange. Not strange “bad”, per se. But there’s no music at all, just the hypnotic hum of the machines and the sound of his soft but stern voice. As a rowing coach, his style is impeccable: super clear, providing encouragement at just the right moments, able to spot bad form from across the room. We felt like we were whisked back to our high school sports team days. As a “fitness instructor” though, he’d be thought of as lacking the off the wall energy or intensity to push us harder. But at EngineRm, that’s not really the point. Michael is more concerned about making you a better rower than getting you perfect abs.
Right on the corner of 60th & Broadway, the only way this studio could be more conveniently located is if it was on the subway platform. Buuuut, like most smaller brand studios in the city, it’s inside a high rise building shared with doctors offices and aspiring fashion designers. What are you going to do? As the colorful NYC politician, Jimmy McMillan, says, “The rent is too damn high!”. EngineRm in good company with Pure Barre, their next door neighbor on the 3rd floor. The location does, however, limit the amount of changing space to the shared hallway bathrooms and unfortunately, showers are not an option. Also, their Pure Barre proximity may be a bit of a curse since you can hear their instructors through the shared wall.
A nugget of a studio, EngineRm actually brings all of the same touches to their decor that a boutique studio would. The handwritten signs in neon paint, the quote murals plastered across the walls, and even cool old school metal lockers from a high school gym (ones that make you go “awww” not “ewwww”), plus a few nostalgic pieces like oars, jerseys from past races at Yale, black and white regatta photos, and even medals give you a hint that this place is serious. The studio space is sizeable but limited to 10-12 ergs. No surprise there since this is very much a community based studio with a lot of regulars. And not that it was weird, but we did bring down the average age in the room by a good clip. But hey, there was a 70-year old man in our class who was just CRUSHING and rocking some major biceps in his tank top. It’s definitely a good mix of former rowers staying in the game and peeps who may have stepped away from fitness for a while and are hopping back in.
1841 Broadway #320, New York, NY 10023 Columbus Circle Rowing $$$$
Columbus Circle Rowing, $$$$
1841 Broadway #320, New York, NY 10023
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