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Energize your workout … just add water!

AARC_MCI Regatta blogJune is National Great Outdoors Month … a good time to energize your workout with a new outdoor sport or activity.

Whether you prefer a challenge or something a little more laid-back, there are plenty of activities to choose from during the warm summer months, including water sports.

Ann Arbor resident Leisa Thompson, freelance photographer for the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, is an avid rower. She can be found on the Huron River with her team several times each week during rowing season (Apr. 1-Oct. 31).

“This is one of my passions,” says the 44-year-old Thompson, who began rowing classes three years ago as a unique way to get in shape and enjoy the outdoors. “We see deer, great blue heron and all kinds of nature,” she says. “It’s very peaceful and meditative.”

AARC_MCI_Regatta2 blogThis seasoned rower attributes her strong leg and arm muscles, as well as a strong core, to rowing. In addition to the health benefits, Thompson also loves the connection with her teammates, whether she rows as part of a two-, four- or eight-person group. “You’re working hard with your team, and when you become one, you feel a strong connection.”

Thompson says she sees rowers or all ages — from young adults to those in their 70s. Many are former runners who have given up the sport due to injury. But, she insists, you don’t need to be in great shape to get started in a novice rowing class. “It’s great for anyone.”

Want to give it a try?

AARC_oar blogAnn Arbor Rowing Club (AARC) offers Learn-to-Row classes designed for adults of all ages and abilities with no previous rowing experience. Classes are scheduled throughout the spring and early summer and are designed to prepare rowers for AARC’s Novice Rowing program.

Detroit Women’s Rowing Association offers a beautiful location with calm water canal access and technical instruction for beginners. Experienced rowers have access to the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair for all-out power and distance rowing.

Detroit Boat Club Crew teaches a learn-to-row introductory class that focuses primarily on technique rather than athletic ability. It is designed for adults of all ages and abilities with no previous rowing experience.

Other water workouts

Places like the Dexter Wellness Center offer a variety of water-related classes:

  • Aqua Pilates uses the principles of yoga and Pilates to stretch and strengthen muscles and improve balance in the water.
  • Water walking is beneficial on its own, but you can add kickboards, hand paddles, resistance gloves, Styrofoam barbells or noodles to enhance your workout.

For the more adventurous, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and kayaking are popular options that promote cardiovascular health.

  • SUP provides a solid overall workout, calling on balance and strength to keep you upright as you propel yourself through the water. This core workout uses a variety of muscles and provides a strong, low-impact cardio workout.
  • Kayaking is another low-impact cardio workout that strengthens arms, shoulders, back, core muscles and legs.

Have you tried a new sport or workout routine recently? If so, how did you like it?


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.