It may seem superficial, but if you’re new to rowing, you may wonder, what do I wear? Rowing requires some special considerations.
In addition to our custom Concept2 rowing clothing, here are our recommendations.
As you move through the rowing stroke, you want to be sure there is no chance your shirt gets in your way. Semi-fitted and form-fitting shirts that are comfortable and breathable will give you room to move easily through the rowing stroke. Baggy shirts can get caught up in the rowing stroke, making it difficult to move hands in and out of the recovery. Shirt tails can also get caught in the rollers of the sliding seat; be sure to tuck in shirts that hang down.
Shorts (capris or leggings, too)
Rowing is a seated sport. Some rowing-specific shorts (available through Concept2) offer just a bit of extra lining for cushioning where you need it. (We’ve heard of some athletes wearing bike shorts, but the padding isn’t quite in the right spots!) General fitness shorts, capris and leggings are all appropriate gear. Long baggy shorts can stop you dead in your tracks if they get caught in the seat rollers while moving up and down the monorail.
Competitive athletes often wear shorts (or one-piece unisuits) made of breathable elastic fabrics such as Lycra and Spandex. You don’t need to squeeze into these outfits to row! Just make sure you feel comfortable and confident in semi-fitted clothing that doesn’t hang down below the seat.
Regardless of the kind of shorts you choose, watch out for bulky seams in the seat area. They can cause chafing and discomfort if you sit on them for too long while rowing. To avoid irritation, look for smooth seams. We also recommend undergarments that give coverage and comfort as you row.
Rowing may be a low-impact sport, but a sports bra will add support for the physical exertion of rowing. Low to medium support works for most women.
There are plenty of options for what shoes to wear. Generally, any fitness or running shoe is appropriate. It’s best to use shoes with a lower heel and less cushioning to maximize your power application. Some people like to row without shoes, but in a public setting such as a health club, we recommend wearing shoes for both convenience and hygiene.
Whether you choose to wear shoes or not, socks are recommended. While rowing, the heel is allowed to come up while in the catch position of the stroke. For some people, this causes rubbing in the heel of their shoe or in the Flexfoot. Socks are generally helpful in preventing chafing.
The back and forth motion can push hair into your eyes; you may want to pull back long hair.
Wearing gloves is a personal choice, but with a loose but secure grip, they are generally not needed. Athletes who choose to wear gloves tell us that weightlifting gloves work well. (Athletes do not use gloves with their oars in a boat, so we don't have a specific glove to recommend for rowing.)
Additionally, rings, bracelets and other jewelry can be distracting and sometimes uncomfortable. You may want to consider removing jewelry for your workouts.
Also see additional tips for Getting Comfortable on the Indoor Rower.