Victoria Taylor, indoor rowing champion, writes about why indoor rowing works for her.
My introduction to indoor rowing was random in the sense that I never had any exposure to rowing as a sport until rowing machine intervals formed part of a programme I did at the gym with a PT I was training with. He happened to comment that I was “naturally good” at rowing, something which is a bit of a novelty for someone of my height, as with many of the sports/fitness ventures I enjoyed it was usually a disadvantage! He suggested I take it a bit more seriously and check out a few online groups centred around indoor rowing. I posted my first 2k attempt on Facebook and almost immediately had a number of teams messaging me about the option of joining, willing to assist with my training and motivation. A month later I was part of a team and I’d entered the British Rowing Indoor Championships which despite going against my predisposed self-conscious nature, was actually the start of what has so far turned out to be a fairly successful indoor rowing career.
Indoor rowing is the perfect tool for improving both my physical and mental strength. It teaches me to focus, tolerate and challenge doubts, which in turn helps me build self-confidence and competence, whilst also de-stressing. On many occasions the physical gains have been of secondary importance to me. Like an added bonus rather than the main focus. I will however admit that I like the feeling of being ‘strong’ and rowing definitely enhances that. I’ve also found that as someone with a busy work and family life, it is one of the most time efficient forms of training I have ever come across!
I’ve met plenty of female indoor rowers during my time involved with the community. Their backgrounds are incredibly varied, as are their goals. I’m always keen to encourage greater female participation in the sport and particularly at indoor rowing events. In my experience women are more reluctant to attend events and participate competitively in the online challenges available. With a bit of direction, encouragement and team support however, they demonstrate a great capacity to confront any insecurities and develop a real passion for all things indoor row. There’s a real sense of being ‘in it together’. Whether it’s a speed or distance goal they might hold, they’re equally valid so regardless of gender, age or ability, everyone has a valuable contribution to make to the sport and the community that surrounds it. There are a lot of busy, hard working women, with family responsibilities, who are very dedicated to the sport.
I find people who demonstrate ‘strength in adversity’ and qualities such as determination and unwavering commitment inspiring. David Smith MBE (www.davidsmithmbe.co.uk) former Team GB athlete in Karate, Bobsleigh, Paralympic rowing and now cyclist has one of the most inspirational life stories I’ve ever come across. On a day to day basis, my coach at Fitness Matters Indoor Rowing, my team mates and the community inspire me to keep going, be better and step outside of my comfort zones.
The one piece of advice I would give to someone who wasn’t sure if they wanted to take part would be to go for it – the rewards outweigh any imagined risks and everyone inspires someone. This could be your thing! And you might be all someone else needs to see to be inspired to take the plunge themselves.
The next British Rowing Indoor Championships is taking place on Saturday, 10 December at the Lee Valley VeloPark. Entries are now open via indoorchamps.britishrowing.org.