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Let’s Talk About Rowgatta, Your New Favorite HILIT Bootcamp Class

January 04, 2020DMT Beauty

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Behind Rowgatta: What It Is, How It Came to Be and Why You Should Take It

For many, a new year means a brand new set of fitness goals to accomplish.

With 2020 underway, you might be in hot pursuit of the latest workout that’ll keep your focus from fading away come February. If you’re someone who prefers a group class over a solo gym outing, what’s something that’ll give you that full-on beast mode feeling post-workout without breaking the bank? Well, move over Barry’s … Switch, Orange Theory, GRIT or just about any other boutique fitness class in town. Rowgatta, described as a “high-intensity, low-impact (HILIT) bootcamp experience,” is ready to take over.

RELATED: Top Health & Fitness Trends for 2020

We spoke with co-founder Nadav Ben-Chanoch about how Rowgatta came to be, the ins and outs of a Rowgatta class, the benefits of rowing and what’s to come down the road in 2020.

AskMen: Let’s start from the beginning — what was the process like to get Rowgatta up and running?

Nadav Ben-Chanoch: It’s been quite a journey. My business partner Kenny and I met while we were working as corporate lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. We left the firm within a month of each other in June of 2017, and I actually left NYC and was training for an Ironman race in Hawaii. Kenny came up with the idea for Rowgatta and quickly sold me on it. Next thing I knew, I was back in NYC working on Rowgatta full time.

The idea behind Rowgatta evolved over time, and we’ve had to adjust and make more than a few tough choices. However, despite working 7 days/week and all the sleepless nights, this journey has been the most exciting and fulfilling of my life. I really enjoyed building out the studio and being here every day overseeing construction. Watching the studio come to life and now seeing people enjoying it is incredibly rewarding. While we’ve raised money from friends and family, Kenny and I have funded a large portion of the business and, unlike some other new studios in the area, have to be very efficient with our resources.

The result is that we do basically everything around here – hiring, training, coaching, front desk, marketing, HR, and everything else that goes into running this place. It can be exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

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A post shared by Rowgatta (@rowgatta_nyc) on Oct 29, 2019 at 7:53am PDT

How does Rowgatta stand apart (aside from the obvious incorporation of rowing) as a unique fitness studio?

We actually don’t consider ourselves a rowing studio, the same way people don’t consider Barry’s Bootcamp a running studio. We offer High-Intensity, Low-Impact (HILIT) bootcamp classes. What sets us apart is that everything we do here is aimed at creating the best possible experience for our Rowgatta Athletes (as we like to call them). This includes everything from the way our class is structured to the people we hire, to the way we utilize our space.

First, we do things very differently than the “rowing studios” in town. For example, these rowing studios spend the vast majority of class time rowing while at Rowgatta, you’ll always spend half your time rowing and half on the “floor” station doing resistance training. We’ve also designed our space to function differently that other studios. For example, we have a large community space downstairs, our Huddle Zone, where we have the same equipment we keep in the studio, as well as Theraguns, foam rollers, etc. It’s really important for us to build a strong Rowgatta community, and we’ve invested heavily in the space to foster that environment. Our locker rooms are also larger and more spacious than any I’ve seen, and our seven showers just might be my favorite thing about this place (come check out our blue tile).

Finally, the thing that separates us more than anything else is our team. We interviewed a ton of great people to coach here and carefully selected an elite group of amazing and knowledgeable individuals. Unlike other studios where the instructors are handed a script with a pre-set workout, our coaches do their own programming and music. You can go to Chris’s Full Body class on Saturday morning and then Lex’s class that same afternoon with two very different experiences (both of which will be great).

We also only hire certified fitness professionals with group fitness experience. Most importantly, with our coaches, what you see is what you get – they’re a group of authentic, knowledgeable, and passionate folks that are focused on helping our Athletes improve, not on improving their Instagram stats.

Not many classes highlight the rower as an essential machine during their workouts, so why did you think it was important to do that?

People always find this surprising, but neither Kenny nor I have a rowing background. We were introduced to rowing, and the concept 2 specifically, in CrossFit. We chose to build our workout around the rower for several reasons. First, it’s a full-body exercise that engages 86 percent of your muscles on each stroke. Second, it’s incredibly efficient and burns more calories than running or spinning. Third, it’s low impact, which was very important to us.

Unlike running, for example, rowing does not strain the joints. People are placing a greater emphasis on recovery and longevity than ever before, which is evident by the various stretching and recovery boutiques popping up all over. Our low-impact approach allows our Athletes to continue working out with us for years to come. Fourth, rowing is a great combination of strength and conditioning. Unlike a treadmill, for example, you have to create your own resistance on the rower and really push hard with your legs. This is how you build strength rowing. At the same time, try sprinting for a full minute on the rower and let me know how high your heart rate gets.

Finally, the rower is optimal for a great variety of complementary exercises, since it’s easy to strap in and out, doesn’t take up much space (like a treadmill) and doesn’t require special shoes (like a spin bike).

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A post shared by Rowgatta (@rowgatta_nyc) on Nov 19, 2019 at 9:34am PST

For a novice, what are some essentials to know about rowing and its benefits?

First of all, while rowing is a full-body sport, about 70 percent of the power is generated by your legs. There is a misconception, especially among women, that rowing will make your upper body bulky, which is far from the truth. In fact, proper rowing technique is driven by the posterior chain (the backside of your body), and primarily by your glutes. If you’re looking to keep that tushy strong and sturdy, rowing is one of the best ways to do so.

Second, our classes are designed in a way such that each Athlete works relative to his or her own work capacity. Unlike the “rowing studios” in town, we don’t row in unison or at the same speed. Rather, we work in four zones – recovery, base, push, and sprint. We help each Athlete find his or her own “base pace” during their first couple of classes. This is a pace which they can hold and build off so that when we start pushing, each Athlete is doing so relative to his or her specific ability.

Finally, as I’d mentioned previously, rowing is a great combination of strength and endurance training, so if you’re looking to get stronger while burning maximum calories, rowing is the way to go.

How does a typical Rowgatta class work? What should someone know before going in, and what are some things they’ll learn the more they come to class?

Each class is 50 minutes, split between rowing blocks and resistance training blocks for strength training. Each Athlete will start on a designated rower or floor station and swap to the other side when instructed to do so. Typically, you can expect to spend two blocks on the rower and two on the floor. This is why we consider ourselves a bootcamp class and not a “rowing studio” which tend to focus the vast majority of class time rowing.

Also, while rowing is by definition a full body sport, we vary the focus on the floor each day of the week so that our Athletes can mix it up and target different muscles groups. For example, on Monday we focus on Arms & Abs, Tuesday is Legs & Glutes, Wednesday is Core, etc. A large percentage of our first timers have never rowed before, and there is really nothing they need to know in advance to take the class. We do a brief introduction for our first timers about 10 minutes before each class where we explain proper rowing technique, as well as the way the class is structured. We find that most of our Athletes’ technique improves dramatically over their first couple of classes as they become more familiar with the rower.

All we ask them to bring into the studio are good vibes, and I guarantee they will have an awesome experience.

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A post shared by Rowgatta (@rowgatta_nyc) on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:15am PDT

What’s planned for Rowgatta’s future, whether that’s more studios, the approach to classes, and so on?

We are focused on perfecting the experience at our Union Square location, but we already have our eyes on studio number two starting in 2020. We’ve had folks approach us about franchising opportunities, but for us it’s really important to make sure the brand remains authentic, so we’re focused on responsible and organic growth.

In terms of classes, we’re always learning and taking in the feedback we receive both from our Athletes and our coaches, and continue to tinker with the formula so that each person walking through our door receives an absolutely awesome experience from the check-in at the front desk, to the class, to the post-class shower.

For anyone who hasn’t been yet, I really recommend stopping by for a class and, if for no other reason, because there is a very good chance Rosie (the Rowgatta mascot who works the front desk 7 days/week) will be there to greet you as you walk in.

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Sean Abrams, Khareem Sudlow

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