Indoor rower

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An indoor rower, or rowing machine, is a machine used to simulate the action of watercraft rowing for the purpose of exercise or training for rowing. Indoor Rowing has become established as a sport in its own right. The term also refers to a participant in this sport.

Modern indoor rowers are also sometimes known as ergometers (colloquially erg or ergo), an ergometer being a device which measures the amount of work performed. The indoor rower is calibrated to measure the amount of energy the rower is generating. Ergometer comes from the Greek words ergon (ἔργον), meaning work, and metron (μέτρον), meaning measure. "Ergometer", therefore, literally means "work measurer". A bike, fitted with mechanical work measurement devices is also an ergometer.



Machines using linear pneumatic resistance were commonplace around 1900, but they did not simulate actual rowing very accurately. In the 1950s and 1960s, rowing coaches in many countries began using specially made rowing machines for training and power measurement. The normal design was a large, heavy, solid iron wheel with a mechanical brake on it. They were considered something of a torture device, and were extremely unpopular among rowers of the time.[1]

Around 1980, air resistance rowing machines were introduced, and, in 1988, a hydraulic flywheel rowing machine design was released. Many modern rowing-machine designs are a hybrid of these earlier designs. Common variations of the rowing machine include kayak trainers, and sculling trainers.

Layout of the machine

The most common rowing-machine design consists of a flywheel connected to a chain and handle. The rower pushes their body backwards with the legs, then pivots their back, and pulls on the handle, causing the flywheel to spin. The flywheel has a braking mechanism applied (using either pneumatic, hydraulic or magnetic damping) that is intended to simulate the feel of an oar moving through water. Depending on the machine the rower either moves back and forth as part of the rowing action, or the rower remains stationary and the flywheel mechanism moves.

Some machines calculate the user's power by measuring the speed of the flywheel during the stroke and then recording the rate at which it decelerates during the recovery. Using this and the known moment of inertia of the flywheel the computer calculates everything else.

Some ergometers can be connected to a personal computer using software, and data on individual exercise sessions can be collected and analyzed. In addition, some software packages allows users to connect multiple ergometers over the internet for virtual races and workouts.

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