Thursday, 14 October 2010

Intensely annoying people 2 - People failing at erging properly in gyms

OK, I have been meaning to write this post for a while because I am pretty certain this is universally despised by all rowers. Personally, I think there is a circle of hell reserved just for people who row like morons in gyms.
They would obviously be taught how to erg properly first by a demon with some sort of Concept2 qualification.

This is what the ergo screen would look like in hell.
There are a few variants of these Ergo Fail People (EFP).

Variant 1: The "no backs"
(You can click for bigger...) This is obviously followed by rushing back up the slide as fast as humanly possible, LIFTING THE HANDS OVER THE KNEES AS YOU DO SO. This last part is very important as that's how you get a good split.

Variant 2: The "permanently at backstops"
There's a reason why you're pulling a 3:50 split at rate 50.
 Again, you need the lifty-hand-knees thing on the recovery.

Variant 3: The "WTF"
 People usually get hit by flailing limbs if they stand too close.

There are many interesting variations of these erging styles. I'm sure someone could do proper scientific analysis on what is the *most* inefficient type of stroke. 

But of course, it doesn't stop there. There is also what can only be termed obsession with erging on resistance 10 (granted, usually only with guys).
Steve Redgrave didn't erg on that, so why should you, you weedy twerp? Oh, and BACK INJURY ON A PLATE. Don't think I can't see your lower back straining as you bum shove at every catch. CAN'T YOU SEE ME WINCING?!??!??
 Most EFP also have no concept of what would be an aerobically benefical session on a rowing machine. My case in point, while ~18mins into a 30min r20 t'other day two school boys got onto the ergos either side of me (Nooooo! Surrounded!), whacked up the resistance, spent a minute or two fiddling around in the "New Workout" section, both went to front stops annnnnndddd did a 30sec sprint, rating about 50 on 1:50. They then got off, congratulated each other on how badass they were and presumably went downstairs to do bicep curls. (They were EFP Variant 2, out of interest). I wanted to fucking kill them. I was not in a happy place anyway thanks to the good old EOD (Erg Of Death - the CUWBC name for a 30min) but this nearly pushed me over the edge.

Even better than this was the time over Christmas in my gym at home. I think it was an 18K or something. Halfway through, someone got onto the erg next to me, did a few strokes of Variant 1, then proceeded to tell me that I wasn't erging properly. I was "leaning back too far" apparently. What I imagined doing was this:
Why drink lucozade sport if you HAVEN'T DONE ANY EXERCISE? Yes, no doubt your carbohydrate stores are getting low and your electrolytes need replacing from the 3 mins you just did on the ergo. Moron.
What I actually did was refuse to acknowledge that he existed while thinking dark, dark thoughts about how much I wanted him to DIE IN A FIRE. To be honest, if I hadn't been in the middle of something I would have challenged him to a 500m piece or similar to see who would finish first. Odds are I could've got below 3:00 so would have won. Rage. RAGE.

That pretty much concludes what I have to say on EFP. I should probably change subject before I give myself a hernia or something.

NO NO NO WAIT WAIT WAIT my google search for concept 2 screen to copy for the drawing above (because, surprisingly I wanted a reminder of what it looked like - I clearly need to erg more) turned up this:
Everything looks fine at a first glance. 1:45 split. Yes, good. Rate 55? Wait a minute... 2051m projected for 30mins?

I'm going with a probable variant 1, on resistance 10. Most likely wearing Nike basketball shorts and some sort of gun-show t shirt. Goes to the gym 3 times a week and does a lot of arm weights sitting on a bench in front of a mirror.

Not that I'm prejudice or anything.


****Hernia alert****

~~~~~Subject change~~~~~

Close one. Anyway, here is another great way of making your housemates hate you, in addition to filling your shared kitchen with apples and drying kit EVERYWHERE.

How to make your housemates hate you

You will need:
1x boat bag in need of a clean
1x bottle of fairy liquid (or supermarket equivalent!)
1x bath, w/ shower attachment
1x post it note
1x boat tie
1x rubbish bin
1x ability not to think things through properly

Step 1:
Wash your 27 foot boat bag in the bathroom.
Yes, I have my name on it. And yes, I realise this makes me look like a bit of a twat.
This is quite hard work as it's basically a huge sopping wet duvet cover. Use the shower head to (a) wash off the bubbles and (b) to make sure the bathroom is properly wet by the time you've finished. I'm not one to do half a job!

Step 2:
Use the boat tie to attach your boat bag to a bannister to dry. Put the bucket underneath it to catch the torrents of water that come off it.
This is when living in a house designed by someone who was mentally ill with 5 floors and lots of staircases is a BONUS.
Step 3:

I was going to write just "Don't Ask" on it, but thought that would be a bit much.
If you want to wash your boat bag, don't.

Even better was the fact I did all this in my new shiny t shirt that arrived yesterday :-)  It has THIS on it:
From the blog "Hyperbole and a Half",  this blog post. If you've never visited it, THEN DROP EVERYTHING AND DO IT NOW***! It is quite simply genius:
I thought it was quite apt.

***You will do no work for the rest of the day if you visit this blog. But it'll be worth it, believe me. 

UPDATE A new variant has been brought to my attention that deserves its own drawing (thanks Mary!).

Variant 4: "The hyper-Canadian" 
 Characterised by epic back lean (not uncommon among rowers - including me) + taking the handle past your head??!?!?!? NICE!


  1. So much that I agree with in this post...

  2. Once, a man in a gym sat down and started erging next to me. He took a fairly normal stroke until the finish, then proceeded to keep moving back until he was LYING DOWN completely. He'd then pull his handle right over his face. In the words of Darren Whiter: "Never sacrifice posture for length." Crazy.

  3. I often want to tell people at the gym that they're doing it all wrong. Putting the seat pad on back to front, then moving the damper up to 10, is clearly a sign that it's not going to go well. I never have though, I'm too scared !

    I'm sure they think I'm a wimp because I'm sweating loads and only have the resistance on 5.

  4. "Once, a man in a gym sat down and started erging next to me. He took a fairly normal stroke until the finish, then proceeded to keep moving back until he was LYING DOWN completely."

    Ah, a Canadian.

    Meanwhile, what's wrong with doing ergs on 8-10ish? I do that in Christs all the time!

    (NB: That's because that's what it has to be at to get 130.)

  5. Not half as good as having a LifeRower and a concept2 sitting next to each other in your local gym. The former has a TV screen with instructions not to use your back. Something every gym-dwelling wet towel feels it is their civic duty to tell you. Over and over again. In the middle of the final leg of a 3x10'. GRRRRRRR.

    Also, Mark, that's because you haven't touched a Christ's erg in about five centuries...

  6. Mark, it sounds like Christs ergs need a good clean...

  7. @ Mary - have updated to include your one. That really is something.

    I feel like I'm being a little unfair because all the instructors I've seen in these gyms (a) can't do it themselves and (b) teach people how to do it wrong. I'd just feel like a bit of a tool barging in and undermining their authority as a "fitness instructor" and trying to teach the poor tutee (sp?) the right way of doing it. That and it would be a drop in the ocean. IMO the only way of sorting this would be an obigatory training course from concept2 for fitness instructors or something.

    @ Mark - 130 is hwt women drag factor. Man up and put it on 138! :P

  8. If you don't like my ergs Mark, you can always erg somewhere else.

    Or clean them after you have used them?

    (NB: That's because that's what you should do after you use them.)

  9. @ Nick - OooOOOoOOooOOOOO! Getting touchy about your ergs ay? :-D (Why do the chains get less springy btw - it can't be because you sweat on the slider...)

  10. Time on the slide is time wasted... ;-)

    my best one was being told I should be able to row 2000m in "about ten minutes" by the gym instructor. If it doesn't start with a 6 then I deserve to be beaten round the head with an ergo until I scream and beg for mercy. I didn't tell him this.

    waaaaaaah am in bed with stinky head cold and it's 8 days til trials. Preparation is for wimps.

  11. Ah,, so very true. I've done a quick 30min ergo at lunch time before in a public gym and had about 10 different people manage to sit next to me, finish their workout, and go home!

    And there is nothing more annoying then being halfway through some hellish ergo and having someone start twatting about next to you.

    I should probably clean my boatbag soon, looks like it'll be fun! I don't even have any stairs!

  12. @ Frankie - get well soon! Gotta love fitness instructors.

    @ Tom - DON'T WASH YOUR BOAT BAG. Unless you have a garden. You *will* make a massive mess of your bathroom and have very wet carpets throughout your house. If you have another (better?) half, they will kill you, probably by smothering you to death with your wet boat bag.

    Just to warn you :-)

  13. One day, you will get on a cross-trainer in a gym full of cross-country skiiers.

    And then shalt you know the meaning of scorn.

  14. I am also wondering where rowers could demonstrate their superiority, if not in gyms filled with ineptitude.

    Surely this is the one payback for being involved in a sport that involves countless unpaid early mornings, and (for the vast majority) teeny tiny audiences consisting almost entirely of other people who row. Or who have rowed. Or who are slightly confused non-rowing family members, who don't really understand what's going on, but are desparately proud / guilt-tripped / obliged [delete as appropriate], whilst quietly wishing they could've gotten up 2-6hrs later.

    Gym ergs are the one time that rowers get to mix with IRL people, AND to show why they're great!

  15. @ Anonymous 1: I am never going to get on a cross trainer ever again (c.f. Crosstraining post) so thankfully this will never be a problem :-)

    @ Anonymous 2: IRL?

  16. @Nick: I do clean them, there's no disinfectant or anything or I'd use that too.

    And I rowed on a Christs erg fairly recently (although I have been mooching off Pembroke too)

    I wish I had room in this house for my erg...

  17. I live with a fellow rower, so they might understand the madness! It does sound like quite a lot of effot though, how long did yours take to dry?

  18. Surprisingly, less than 24 hours. I was impressed!

  19. However, I've got mine muddy again ALREADY :-(

  20. You really ought to have included a video demonstrating correct erg technique here, Anna.

    How about this one?

  21. Oh LOL. I particularly liked the comment below it describing it as "the death throes of a sea otter".


  22. I have watched a couple of schoolboys (not schoolboy rowers, mind) do the most terrific bum-shove, underarm, handsoverknees erging in my local gym whilst I was doing a series of sprint pieces, getting looks of "why is she stopping and so tired out?". On another occasion some man sat down on the next erg doing rate zillion (probably on resistance 10) thinking he was so much faster than the lightweight girl next to him. His split was vastly slower than my r18 hour long piece. grrrrr.

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