The Engine Room

Rowing seems to be rapidly turning into the on trend fitness class at he moment. Which is upsetting as I’ve never been that inclined to do it. The downside of that is I dread going to one of the sessions, the upside is that I probably get a much better workout and I burn a load more calories.

The Engine Room is one of the newest studios to hit London. Based a few hundred metres from Great Portland Street station and designed within a grade 2 listed church, the studio offers other training as well as rowing. But it’s the rowing I headed over to try out. For my sins.

What is it?

Using state of the art Technogym SKILLROW machines, the classes at the Engine Room aim to cover a range of skill levels, from Rowing 101 to full on data focussed “Breathe”. The class I went to try was called “80’S Row Back!” which is essentiality an 80s themed version of their Beats class; a 50-minutes mixture of rowing drills and floor work.

The class was broken up into six sections: three six-minute sections on the rower and three on the floor. The rowing blocks ranged from strength and interval training to endurance, with a bit of training form thrown in at the start. The floor work was a mix of weighted squats, upper body and core.

Is it any good?

I was actually pretty blown away with how impressive the studio itself is. The whole place is kitted out like something from the future, with the trainer in control of everything from the music and the detailed screen analytics, to the timing of the neon club lighting.

It was the first time I’d used SKILLROW machines as well, and they are really nice to look at, with a very smooth LCD screen. Not sure if they’re better for rowing, but they look cool.

The class itself was actually pretty enjoyable. The format of cardio machine and floor work intervals is hardly a new concept, people like Barry’s and 1Rebel have been doing it for years with treadmills, but the rowing format adds an interesting level to it. The main difference between the two is that whilst running on a treadmill, you’re stuck at a set speed based on what the instructor tells you, on the rower you’re completely in control.

To make sure you’re pushing yourself and working towards the aim of the section you’re working, your stats are displayed on the screen in front. It’s up to you to work out how to hit that goal and I actually found myself changing my rowing style to match the format of the intervals. That technique side of things I really enjoyed. I also love any class where I get stats to look at whilst training – I always seem to work harder when I think the rest of the class is judging me.

Did I enjoy it?

Oddly, I liked the rowing bit way more than the floor work. As someone who trains a lot in the gym anyway, the more general exercises you get in these sorts of classes tend to just be ticking boxes. I also find that 20 minutes or so of general full body exercises isn’t enough to have a noticeable training impact on anything, I much prefer it when the exercises are fully focused on one muscle group. On the other hand I absolutely loved the rowing section, which I wasn’t expecting. I’d definitely give the rowing only classes a go.

By the end of the 50 minutes class I’d burnt off 600 calories, which is way higher than I’m getting in most of my other training at the moment – presumably because I’m crap at rowing but also because I’m probably trying harder and enjoying it.

Who’s it for?

I’d say the focus is for people that want a good all round workout, the same with any HIIT, but don’t want to go near a treadmill. I’ve met a lot of people that can’t stand running but will happily bang out half an hour on the rower. It’s a good beginner class as well because you’re completely in control of the effort level, unlike a treadmill equivalent. Rowing works the upper body as well, which means more muscle building for the arms.

How much is it?

A single class will cost you £19 (£14 for a 35-minute express class), 10 classes will set you back £170 and £195 will get you unlimited classes per month.

For more info head over to the website here.

Picture Credits: Bergman Interiors, The Engine Room