Thanks to modern technology and the internet, you can go to war with game players all over the world and shoot or blow to pieces someone you've never met before, or never likely to meet again - just like the real thing except you don't have to leave your room and get your boots dirty.
But surely there's a better way to use this technology? I here you ask.
And yes there is! If you need more motivation to train, you can now compete against rowers from anywhere in the world while sitting in your own rowing machine. If you belong to a rowing club and regularly race then you'll know the thrill of training and then putting yourself to the test against others - it's a great motivator to stay in there and train.
But home rowers mostly don't get this buzz. Yes, some rowing machines have race boat options - such as the Lifecore R100, Or you can set up races with other family members or friend with time or distance trials (also see how to get creative with your workouts here.) But it's not in real time and do you have fit enough friends to give you a good race?
But now you can with online race systems like RowPro's Oarbits (free if you're a member of one of their other services,) However, it's currently only available to Concept2 owners with a PM3 or PM4 performance monitor. You link up your monitor to your PC or SmartPhone App, sign up for a race and you're off. You can see your progress on a pretty good graphic of the race (see above) and row your heart out over various distances - 2,000 meters is the standard race length. The system will keep track of your performances and pitch you against similar rowers and maintain league tables. Woh - now there's something to motivate you further!
Apart from giving you another reason to train and get fit, the most advanced of these online system will translate your movement on your machine and replicate the action of a real boat on the water. This will help you focus on your technique because a good technique is an efficient one that means your boat will go faster. You can't race if you're injured so this is a great aid for you to focus on proper technique. If you see the other boats in your race streaking ahead of you, you're going to question both your fitness and technique. This gives you something to work on in between races and, as a result, you'll become a better (and fitter) rower.
You can do online dating, gambling and fighting, so why not rowing? I think it's a great innovation and opens up a whole new world to home fitness trainers.
Have you tried it yet? Let me know your thoughts.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.