Training Core Strength With CITYROW

by Core Hydration (@cityrow)

Get introduced to rowing machines and the principles of rowing to achieve a full body work-out in a 50-minute workshop. Using premium, WaterRower row machines, CITYROW takes clients through a unique and intimate studio experience that’ll tone the core through rowing intervals and sculpting exercises.

We took a class with Dan Castillo, who motivated us at an early 6AM class by way of Skrillex and Dillon Francis remixes, with the sun coming up on 5th avenue as the class progressed.

Never rowed? Us either, until now. Here’s what to expect as told by our instructor, Dan.

Training Core Strength With CITYROW

The Proper Stroke

The Proper Stroke 

“Every stroke on the rower uses about 86% of all your muscles. The proper stroke involves 3 key elements, in order: Legs-Core-Arms. The majority of the power (~60%) generated in any one stroke comes generally from the strongest muscles in the body, the legs. When you initiate your stroke, think about beginning the push through the balls of the feet and ending in the heels then carry that force through the legs, as if you are jumping from the bottom of a squat to the ceiling or off of your rower platform.

The second movement involved is a slight tilt with the core. It’s very important to keep this region of the body (i.e., belly, lower and upper back) tight and engaged when performing the lean back. So, imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach and you’re about to take that blow. Tighten up your entire core region to ensure that your spine is fully engaged and protected. The final region of your body that moves is the arms. Follow through with your arms by bringing the handle/oar to the bottom of your chest/sternum/bra line and elbows slightly pointing outward. When completing this movement, think about keeping your shoulders packed down, chest tall, and squeezing your shoulder blades together in the back.”

The Seated Deadlift

The Seated Deadlift

“Just as if you were to perform a deadlift with a loaded barbell from the ground, the same generally applies to 80% of your stroke on the rower (Legs and Core!). When setting up for a barbell deadlift, the core is fully engaged and tight, belly is generally on the thighs, shoulder blades are retracted to keep the back straight, and the hamstrings are loaded. When standing the barbell up off the ground, the lift is initiated by pressing through the center of the feet, keeping the barbell close to the shins and thighs on the way up.

Very similarly, the same is applied when pushing on the rower, and your oar should follow a general straight path when moving forward and backward. The major difference when rowing is that the oar (compared with a barbell) is fully brought to your chest. This is a great physical description and analogy when conducting the stroke and instructing it in class  – think like a deadlift.”

The Versatility of the Rower Seat

The Versatility of the Rower Seat

“The rower seat is an interesting and versatile tool to implement during class – it’s not just meant for sitting on! When I program classes, I think of new ways to implement the erg, specifically the sliding seat and rower rail. During core portions of class, we can use the rower seat for sliding plank knee tucks to the chest, body saws, plank pike ups, etc. We can use the rower rail as an elevated tool for weighted step ups or upper body and core movements such as elevated triceps dips.”

Off Machine Core Moves

Off Machine Core Moves 

“Other movements conducted in class that target the core are forearm and tall planks, plank walkouts, side planks and plank hip taps, hollow holds, birddogs, superman holds, body saws, shoulder taps, squats with weighted arm extensions, and more!”

CITYROW + CORE Hydration

Hydrate with CORE Hydration

Have you tried CityRow’s class yet? With a full body focus on legs, core, and upper-body, you’ll enjoy a challenging work-out in a close-knit studio environment.


Check out two CITYROW locations in NYC:

Union Square – 80 5th Avenue Ste 1501

Upper East Side – 1409 3rd Avenue


Not in NYC? No sweat, try rowing classes in your area:

Lit Method in Los Angeles, CA

Ro Fitness in Austin, TX

GoRow Training Studio in Hoboken, NJ

Btone in Boston, MA

Iron and Oar in Chicago, IL


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