|In these two photos, John Baize demonstrates the technique required to maneuver his rowing bicycle. “It’s counter-intuitive in terms of steering and so forth,” Baize said. “So it takes a little learning curve to get used to it. You have to think about it, and it’s kind of an act of faith to really get going on one, (but) most people grasp it pretty quickly.” Free Press photos by Amanda Wann|
Baize purchased his rowing bicycle in October, but had been wanting one for about two decades.
“It actually began in the late ’80s when I wanted to build a rowing bicycle,” he said, “because I was impressed with the health benefits of rowing, but I also liked to bicycle.
“I tried to put together a rowing bicycle as a three-wheeler, but it never worked adequately enough to really use it.”
After giving up on the idea, his interest was rekindled when he came across an article on rowing bicycles about 10 years later.
“I thought, well, I’ll check into those,” he said. “But they were a little pricey, so I put it off.
“And then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘that really does seem like a good way to not only exercise, but to be in the fresh air.’”
Baize said that working out on a rowing machine can be boring when stuck inside. But with the rowbike, you get to go outside and enjoy the sights, the smells and the sounds.
“It’s much more exciting and motivating,” he said.
Scott Olson is the developer of the rowing bicycle. He is also known for inventing roller blades.
Baize said the rowing bicycle works much like rowing a boat or using a rowing machine.
“The seat slides like it would on a rowing machine,” he said. “Then you pull back on the handlebars as you push in with your legs.
“So you’re pushing and pulling at the same time and then you go back, the seat goes back and forward.”
When the weather is nice, Baize tries to use his new contraption three times a week.
“It works your legs, being that it’s like a squatting motion,” Baize said. “It works your abdominal muscles. (When) pulling back, it works your arms. It works your grip, because you’re gripping with it.
“This works all the major muscle groups at the same time and it’s a good workout—30 minutes is enough.”
Baize said that as a personal record, the rowing bicycle is a good, low-impact exercise.
“There have been occasions where I’ve had some back pain,” he said. “I’ve gotten on it with my back kind of hurting and gotten off with it feeling fine.”
Baize finds that the rowbike strengthens his back and abdominal muscles, which help keep the spine aligned.
Baize said he had a friend who tried it, liked it and is thinking of getting one, too. His friend has some knee problems and likes how the rowbike has a low impact on his knees.
Learning how to use the rowing bicycle may be tricky at first, since you must train your body to work in a combination of movements.
“It’s counter-intuitive in terms of steering and so forth,” Baize said. “So it takes a little learning curve to get used to it.
“You have to think about it, and it’s kind of an act of faith to really get going on one, (but) most people grasp it pretty quickly.”
Baize bought his rowing bicycle online from Scott Olson’s company at www.rowbike.com.
He purchased the geared version of the bike, which helps with stability on hills and with wind. Models start at $775.
“I’m really pleased with it,” Baize said. “It really does what it says it’s supposed to do. I recommend it as a great piece of exercise.”
Baize said the company tells costumers not to think of it necessarily as a bicycle for transportation, but more of an exercise machine, because it is very demanding.
“It takes both hands to do it,” he said, “so you don’t have a way of carrying anything unless you have a backpack.
“People use it for transportation, they go to and from work and things like that. I usually use it to get some exercise.
“I recommend it,” Baize said. “It’s really fun, good exercise and I’m very glad I got it.”
To see the rowbike in motion, check out the Web site for video footage.