Are seat covers, gloves, mats and rowing machine covers worth the cost? There's plenty of choice to help you accessorize your rower, but are they useful, necessary or something you'll use only once and then wish you'd spent your money on something else.
The subject I get the most complaints about is seats. They usually relate to budget models, but some even find the seats on the top machines not to their liking. And when you consider you could be spending 30, 40 or even up to an hour sitting on your rower, it's important you feel comfortable.
This issue hasn't gone unnoticed by some eagle-eyed manufacturers out there who sell a variety seat covers for more comfort.
But are they worth it? A seat cover can cost almost as much as some of the cheaper rowing machines on the market. The best ones use gel and are similar to bike saddles but come at a cost of anything from $50 and up. But if it means you can train for longer than it can be money well spent.
At the budget end you can get what are more of a seat topper and consist of a cushion that straps over the top of the seat. These are unlikely to be a great fit and may slip when you're at going at a high stroke rate and may be more of a hindrance than help.
Note, a number of manufacturers make seats specifically for certain models such as Concept2 - others may specify a number of models they fit. But in fact, there's probably only three different types of seat that budget rowing machine use.
If you're on your machine for hours a week, hand blisters can be problem. Gloves can help to prevent these and so have an obvious benefit. However, most handles are well-padded and have a wide diameter to allow for a good grip that doesn't slip, so if buying a new machine it's worth trying it out before you get gloves as it may not be an issue.
But there's something about putting on a pair of specialized gloves before you train that makes you feel you're ready to go :0)
Most weightlifting gloves will also do the trick, but I've found neoprene grips (pads that fit in the palms of your hands) to be awkward to use.
Rowing machine covers
Not so much choice when it comes to a cover for the rowing machine and they'll set you back over $150. If you use your rower in a cold or damp garage or outdoors, a cover can help to prevent mildew by keeping it dry and protect it from UV light. I don;t know many indoor rowers who use them, but a number of clubs view them as a worthwhile investment - especially if you've got a $1000 machine.
If you have a rowing machine you really should use a mat beneath it. I've covered mats in more detail here, but briefly, they can prevent your machine slipping and damaging your floor. Plus a rubber mat will catch all that sweat on a easy-to-wipe surface - far better than soaking into your carpet!
So there you have it. Next post coming in five days.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.