A complete oarsman boasts the endurance of a long-distance runner, the core strength of a wrestler, and the balance of a man who has just realized he has walked into a snake pit. Tiptoe carefully into a boat with today's Groupon: for $49, you get a four-week Learn to Row class at Lake Union Crew (a $99 value).
Lake Union Crew's instructors shout words of instruction and encouragement to teams of rowers fighting and pulling in unison against the waters of Lake Union. The outfit's four-week Learn to Row course grants novices the necessary equipment and coaching to make a successful foray into the sport. Classes meet rain or shine three times per week, and the first week's classes are mandatory so that new oarsmen learn safety fundamentals, the basics of rowing technique, and to only follow the coxswain's commands when he begins with "Simon says." On dry land, students head into the facility to use Concept2 ergometers—machines that simulate the movements and resistance of rowing—and indoor training tank in which a stationary team rows against manmade water currents. Out on the water, teams practice handling the boat as a unit, even when dealing with choppy waters or rowing the boat straight into the mouth of a giant whale. Potential students should check the class schedule online to see upcoming sessions and the FAQ page for suggestions on what to wear.