Should you buy a rower for Christmas?
It's surely a no-brainer. You have a fitness fanatic for a partner and a rowing machine size space in your home, so wouldn't a home rower be the perfect choice for that surprise gift that will make their jaw drop to the floor when they open it?
Maybe, but maybe not.
Before you start searching the web for the model that will make them love you all the more, stop and ask yourself a few questions. You can spend anything from $100 (but seriously don't bother it will be garbage) up to over $2,500 on a rowing machine so it's worth knowing whether it will get used.
Does your partner like to run?
Is this how they spend much of their spare time keeping fit? If so, beware. I know many runners who wouldn't be seen dead on a rower. This is because many assume running is a far superior activity for getting and staying in shape than a rowing machine - note, this is a wrong assumption but it won;t stop them believing it :0)
Many runners also run because they love the great outdoors and feeling the wind in their hair as they take on the seasonal challenges of snow, ice, gales and the hot sun. The weather (and the scenery) doesn't change indoors and an outdoor person may soon grow bored of the same old view every time they give in and sit on the damn machine.
Do they have a bike?
For the same reasons as a runner, many cyclists will not give you a big hug for spending so much money on a rower - in fact, they may even feel a little upset for you suggesting they need additional training. And if they love the speed and variations a cycle ride provides, they may not like the repetitive action of a workout on a rowing machine. Plus the scenery changes faster on a bike, so the blank wall of a garage will offer no reasonable alternative.
So what can you do?
If you don't want an expensive piece of fitness equipment taking up space and gathering dust, make sure you know whether it will be used. Of course, it may be that it's secretly for you :0) Or maybe try and sell the importance of cross-training to your partner, or that the rower is an option when the weather is too bad for running or cycling so they can stay in shape..
If they're a nut for gadgets and technology, the latest Concept2s or First Degree models could tempt them onto the machine with their PC-compatibility and online functions. Add to that the ability to race against other rowers online with some of the top-of-the-range models and it could appeal to their competitive nature.
Or here's another idea - you could both share the machine and try some of my creative workouts together. If you don't enjoy running or whatever your partner does at present, the chance to take up something new together could work well.
So before you think you're onto a winner, spare a moment to think about whether it will accepted.
rowing machine v treadmill
rowing machine v elliptical trainer or
rower v exercise bike
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Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.