“Slow your row” may sound like an expression coined by urban hipsters to indicate when you’ve gone a little overboard, but if you hear that phrase at Rowland Rowing Studio, you’ll actually be gearing up for an intense, heart-pumping, muscle-building workout.
Owner and personal trainer John Gepp has custom-designed a workout you won’t see anywhere else in the state.He’s filled his studio with state-of-the-art Concept2 rowers – “the best in the world,” he said.
“It’s Great machine,” said Gepp. “There’s no impact on the body but you’re using every muscle group in your body.”
His indoor rowing studio in Juno Beach provides a total body workout that doesn’t require the average Joe to have both oars in the water. Gepp said once you have the basics down, anyone can do it.
“No mattter what kind of athlete you are, it’s for all ages and fitness abilities.”
Gepp further explained that rowing provides functional training helping to improve mobility, which makes getting through our everyday task easier. He said that sliding back and forth on the seat stretche your body and that the machine “gives you deep stretch,” improving flexibility.
“people find it easier to get up out of chair, off the couch, carrying groceries, getting in and out of their cars.” he said.
for the newbie, Gepp walks them through the process of learning proper form,taking baby steps,ensuring they master the technique before diving in.
“if everyne does what i tell them to do, no one gets hurt,” said Gepp.
This isn’t line from a bank heist – it’s how Gepp emphasizes the importance of proper form. This prevents injuries while also giving the rower a bigger “bang for their buck” by targeting the major muscle groups, building muscle while burning calories.
“you’re using 23 muscle with every stroke you take,” he said. “you can’t get that in spinning. Rowing is a complete exercise upper body, lower body, core, range of motion – with no impact on your joints.”
Unlike some gyms where you’re left to sink or swim on your own, Gepp rows shoulder-to-shoulder with his students. He then takes the helm, walking through the rowers and double checking everyone’s from, making corrections where necessary. Although the class is rowing along together, everyone goes at their own pace.
Gepp, ever the coxswain, shouts instruction over pumping music, taking the crew all out for a cardio blast, then bringing it down, slower. Event when the frequency of the row is slowed down, it’s just as intense – now you’re power rowing to build muscle.
As for the crew, they’re all on board. The friendly group is chatty during rests in between sets, ensuring that no one gets thrown overboard.
“It’s such a great group of people,” said 59-year-old Juno Beach resident Kay Ritger. “Once they come they’ll get hooked. We’ve all bonded and made nice friendships; it’s a wonderful experience.”
Tequesta resident Jan Stottlemyer, 52, has lost two sizes since she started rowing.
“It feels great,” Stottlemyer said after class. “It gives me lots of energy,flexibility – it’s a total body workout.”
Tom Cassa, 63, of Palm Beach Gardens, has been rowing for six weeks and now he’s swinging again.
“It loosened my shoulder, which was partially frozen,” said Cassa. “It helped my distance in golf a good 10%.”
Gepp’s love of the beach and rowing started back home on the Jersey Shore. There he spent 25 summers as a lifeguard on a dory boat, rowing out to the victims of rip currents and rescuing people on a regular basis.
When he moved to Florida, he tried his hand in real estate, but explained that “when the real estate market went dry in 2008, I became a personal trainer.” Gepp explained that during his stint as a realtor, he would take his clients onto the beach for bootcamp style workouts.
“I had a rower and people loved it,” he said. “I bought another one. I trained people on rowers in my driveway. After that, people kept talking about it; they loved the machine.”
Gep called Concept2 directly to find out how to become a certified trainer. He found out that there were only six master instructors in the world, with one in Jacksonville. Gepp put himself all in and got his certification.
With his newly opened studio (still close to the beach), Gepp payed homage to his Jersey roots by naming the studio after iconic lifeguard Howard Rowland. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. PBG
Rowland Rowing Studio is located at 11985 US Hwy. 1 in juno Beach. For more information, call (561) 596-5351 or visit www. rowlandindoorrowing.com. The first class is free.