Review: SCULLHOUSE Rowing

I’ve previously talked about hating cardio and struggling to fit it into my regular workouts even though I know how good it is for me. Cardio helps with your cardiovascular endurance (of course), helps increase your bodies ability to use stored fat for fuel and helps you burn more calories. But why is it so terrible to do on my own? I think hell on earth is using a treadmill. So, when I heard about SCULLHOUSE Rowinga fitness studio that specialized solely in rowing workout classes and was conveniently located right around the corner from my office, I was intrigued.

What’s the deal with SCULLHOUSE? It’s a studio that offers 45-60 minute classes that are a combination of rowing and floor work (weights). It’s suited for beginners and experienced rowers, as they start every class going through the cadence of rowing to make sure you’ve got your technique down. The classes are high-energy, high-intensity and low impact accompanied by dim lighting and motivating music. Think a trendy spin class, but on a rowing machine. It’s the first studio like it in Toronto!

What are some benefits of rowing? 

  • It uses 85% of the muscles in your body
  • Burns more calories per minute than cycling, running or swimming
  • Combines cardio and strength training

What does it cost? 

They’re constantly running promotions for first-time rowers, like “3 Weeks Unlimited for $75” (January’s special) but check out their website or social pages for updated information.

Aside from that, a single class is $26 and five classes are $125 (save $1 a class), or an eight-class a month pass (on an auto-renew membership basis) is $176 a month. If you’re looking for something more long-term, you can get an unlimited monthly pass for $240 a month (on an auto-renew membership).

What was my experience like?

The class itself, which is the most important part, would get a solid 7.5/10. Some of the things I liked were rowing as a group (something motivating about that), the music, the instructor (no yelling, just motivating) and the depth of the instruction. They take you through each move step by step and then put it all together to make sure that you have it down. But, much like spin, it’s easy to lose it as you start going faster and so if you’re not using your core or pumping with your legs properly, you lose a lot of the effect of the class. Because the instructor is at the front rowing with us, there’s not a lot of attention if you’re doing something wrong. They’ll occasionally call you out if it’s glaringly obvious, but small tweaks in your form will (unfortunately) go unnoticed. The class is advertised as having “mat weight training” as well, but it’s only a minute or two between rowing sets, which is definitely not enough for me. You can only get in a few reps of the simple exercises (squats, crunches, pushups) and you don’t really feel like you’re getting in enough reps to make a difference.

Aside from that, the studio is really clean, modern and well maintained. They come with showers and toiletries in the washrooms as well as day use lockers with a lock. The only downside? Size – it’s a tiny space in there and right before and after classes can really cramped.

Overall, the experience was a good one. I think rowing is something you need to do on a consistent basis to see the results, especially to get your form right so you’re maximizing your efforts. I guess that’s how it is with most things but after months of not running, you can always hop back on the treadmill – I don’t think this would be as easy! Have you tried rowing? What was your experience like?


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