Vegard Skjefstad

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From Running to Rowing

Back in 2016 we purchased a fairly high-quality treadmill. Having it in the basement was absolutely brilliant. I could go for a run no matter the weather outside, or in the evening even if I was home alone with the sleeping kids. Going outside for a run with the kids home alone sleeping would have been, shall we say, problematic.

So since 2016, I’d used the treadmill semi-regularly, and as of the end of July this year, the odometer had stopped at just shy of 1,500 kilometers (~932 miles). It’s not a terribly impressing distance, but it’s a whole lot further than I would have run without the treadmill.

Unfortunately, a treadmill isn’t very kind to your knees. Over the last half a year or so, I’d not used the treadmill as much as I should. Towards the end of each session, my left knee started to act up, and my motivation for using the treadmill went a bit downhill because of that.

Another issue with the treadmill was that the kind of exercise I got was limited. It’s cardio, legs, and perhaps some back training – I imagine that my posture has improved – but the rest of the body is just along for the ride.

So now I’ve sold the treadmill, and transitioned to a piece of exercise equipment I’m hoping will give me a better all-round workout.

Say hello to my new best friend, the new Abilica Premium TopRower!

Finding a Rower.

After the treadmill was sold, I started to look for a decent second-hand rower. Unfortunately, people who sell second-hand rowers on the internet is a bunch of dimwits. The information they provide is awfully limited (“used rower for sale”), it’s impossible to deduct the brand and model name from their lousy – or often on-existent – pictures, and when you contact the sellers to ask for more information, many of them simply don’t reply.

In the cases where I was actually able to figure what kind of brand was up for sale, it was often one that was virtually unknown to the internet. As it turns out, anyone can create their own rower brand. Simply purchase a white label model from China, slap a logo on it, and off you go. I’m all for purchasing items second-hand, but when I do I’d like it to be a well-known brand. Or at least one with an internet presence.

Pretty much the only recognizable brand I saw for sale was Concept2 rowers. The manufacturer is the de-facto standard rower for well-equipped gyms, and thus the top choice for every amateur rower enthusiast. But a new Concept2 rower is above my budget, and the ones put up for sale on the second-hand market are sold almost immediately.

Abilica Premium TopRower.

On Wednesday, about a month after I sold the treadmill, I got tired of looking for a second-hand rower. So I jumped in the car, and drove to a big-ass sports equipment store. Before I went, I’d picked out what looked like a fairly good rower from their website.

After I’d tried it at the store, it turned out that they didn’t have the rower in stock. Of course. But they did have another, similar, although a tad more expensive, rower in stock. Of course! This other rower, the Abilica Premium TopRower, both looked and operated at a higher quality than the first rower. Abilica hasn’t got Concept2 brand recognition, but it’s well-known in Scandinavian.

Two days ago, I had my first session on the Abilica rower. For a while now, I’ll probably focus on getting the rowing technique right to prevent messing up my back. Short, but frequent sessions at my aerobic heart rate. Even though I have no experience with rowers, the Abilica feels top notch so far. There is no Garmin Connect synchronization, which means I have to manually add the session to Garmin. It’s a drag, but that’s probably something I can get used to. Or I might eventually upgrade to a Concept2 model with the PM5 computer, which connects to Garmin.

How my rower adventure turns out is a little early to tell. But so far it’s exactly what I’m looking for: An easy access, all-round body and cardio workout that doesn’t break my body parts.

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