If you can't make it to CityRow for its total-body workout, take this primer with you to the gym to strengthen and tone your entire body


In New York City, boutique fitness studios seem to line every block, but CityRow is the one I always go back to. I discovered it on a recent trip, shortly after being told by my physical therapist that there would be no running from me for at least six months. Not words my cardio-craving self wanted to hear. CityRow calmed my fears about what a life without running would look like. The workout combines rowing intervals with strength training, resulting in a high-intensity, low-impact workout.

The problem: I don't live in New York City. And while I am lucky enough to satisfy my SoulCycle craving here in San Francisco, CityRow has yet to hit the West Coast. Thankfully, Annie Mulgrew, CityRow's director of programming, created a custom workout that I've been able to take to the gym, and while it's not exactly the same as using one of CityRow's beautiful water rowing machines, it is an incredible cardio workout that also helps to strengthen and tone the entire body.

Before heading to the gym and hopping straight onto a rower, it's important to know the basics. "Rowing is a challenging workout in and of itself. If you're new to rowing, focus on proper form before picking up intensity level," says Annie. "The workout on the machine is only as good as your form, so be patient with yourself until it becomes more familiar."

This handy glossary of need-to-know rowing terms should also help you out!

  • Power pull: A full rowing stroke with focus on power not speed; think fast out, slow in; drive out with full power and then slowly recover on each stroke.
  • Sprint: Exerting maximum effort for maximum speed without losing your form.
  • Catch: Starting position on the row machine with knees bent and arms extended over the knees.
  • Drive: Legs extended, and leaning at a 45-degree angle with a straight back.


  • Warmup: Row at a moderate pace for one minute.
  • Perform five power pulls.
  • Hold your drive on the final stroke and isolate your arms by pulling the handlebar in and out five times.
  • Return to the catch, perform 10 power pulls, holding drive on final stroke, and perform handlebar isolations 10 times.
  • Repeat set five power pulls followed by five arm isolations in drive.
  • Repeat set of 10 power pulls followed by 10 arm isolations in drive position.
  • For the next five minutes, alternate between 30-second sprints with one-minute recovery.

If you want even more of a challenge, during the last round, drop your recovery time to only 30 seconds.


Perform the above exercises for 30 seconds each, trying not to rest in between sets. Once completed, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat another round.


  • Row 100 meters
  • 45 seconds of push-ups
  • Row 200 meters
  • 45-second plank hold
  • Row 300 meters
  • 45 seconds of triceps dips
  • Row 200 meters
  • 45-second plank hold
  • Row 100 meters
  • 45 seconds of push-ups

Perform each rowing interval at a brisk pace. Once you've ended the workout, be sure to stretch!