UCanRow2's mission is to bring rowing to every body, regardless of age, size or ability. They offer training programs and workouts to individuals, as well as in-person and virtual training seminars for those who want to teach rowing on the Concept2 RowErg. We sat down with Sarah Fuhrmann of UCanRow2, the company she started with the late Terry Smythe.
With a goal of introducing the low-impact movement of rowing to as many people as possible, UCanRow2 has impacted countless individuals. Sarah notes that seeing people do more than they realize they are capable of is remarkable. “You see someone break their own barriers on the erg. What does that open as they go out for their day? They feel great and learned they can take something down.” Once someone gets over a personal barrier, they grow and learn to see more in themselves.
This work has been in the foundation of UCanRow2 and is reflected in Terry’s legacy. “Terry had a really special gift of seeing the possibility in people and seeing their human side. She had the rare talent to really pull the best out of people.” Sarah shared that in Terry’s journey of chemo, trials, and all that went with her cancer battle, Terry needed something she could control, and for her, it was rowing. Her splits may not have been the same, but the rhythm and the Zen moments could be found. Having rowing as a place of control and flow was helpful for Terry mentally.
Sarah promotes the emotional benefits of the RowErg—the ability to lock into a flow with the Zen of the flywheel and the rowing motion, and getting into a familiar place for stress management or workout recovery. While hard workouts have their place, Sarah notes that it can be easy to get stuck on how much time is left or notice that your pace feels off. There are the times when the “monitor shouldn’t matter” and you just need to move, says Sarah. On these days she suggests pushing the monitor down or covering it with a towel. UCanRow2 member Kate W. said, “I absolutely believe that rowing has helped my mental health. I agree that it’s the rhythmic movement, but also having to breathe properly during a workout massively helps my anxiety.”
The work UCanRow2 does goes above and beyond just exercise. Sarah finds working with Special Olympics, adaptive athletes and veterans has been rewarding for all involved. Not just seeing physical benefits, but gains in competitive edge, self-confidence, and overall well-being. Sarah and Terry’s work has brought both mental and physical benefits for those involved.
While rowing drives the work of UCanRow2, Sarah urges anyone looking to make fitness changes for physical or mental well-being to start where they are. “Start with a walk, start with moving, start with what feels good. The hardest step is the one that gets you off the couch.” Sarah recognizes the RowErg can be intimidating but encourages people to give themselves grace starting out. “Start out slow, in terms of expectations and time. You didn’t learn to walk or ride a bike in one day." Sarah stresses that finding a workout style that works best for you is important. Whether it's short efforts, intervals, or rowing while watching a show, get into a program that will keep you going. “The most important thing for progress is consistency. This trumps everything else.”
Whatever your reasons for moving your body and exercising, grab onto micro progressions, trust the process, and focus on consistency over immediate results.
For so many of us at Concept2, the positive effects of a good workout go beyond the purely physical benefits. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we're taking the opportunity to talk about how taking care of our physical health can also improve our mental health.