Hi, my name is Brandi and I am who LARC club members affectionately call an "LTR". This means I am a part of the latest Learn to Row class. The LTR label tells them all they need to know about me in two seconds: "This is Brandi and she's an LTR" means she often catches crabs, she just learned the terminology, and she can't set a boat to save her life...improvements forthcoming. They're right by the way, but what can you expect? It took me 15 years to finally put my butt in a boat!
I was first exposed to the idea of rowing when I found out my college had a team. This was surprising since I went to school in Louisiana. I wanted to join but, at the time, my priorities did not line up with the practice schedule. Hey, no judging, 4am is a hard pill to swallow at age 19. So I let the opportunity pass me by and told myself there would be time later. Fast forward to "later", 15 years have passed and I live in California. I'm coming off a serious injury that makes conventional workouts hard and "relaxing" workouts like yoga impossible, and my husband says, "What about rowing?" So, I do my research and find out that there is only one option available that fits my schedule, my budget, and my novice shyness, The Los Angeles Rowing Club LTR class. The LTR class lasts a full weekend, so you can really determine if rowing is a fit, the price is right… "Why the hell not?" I sign up.
The weekend starts with doughnuts, always a good sign, and the usual, "Hi, I'm so-and-so and you are?…" After that they split us up, one group to the safety briefing and one group to the ergonomic machines. The safety briefing is hilarious, we all find out the numerous ways we couldn't have imagined hurting ourselves and hear classic veteran stories about minor injuries and various humiliations. The stories relax us newbies. Now we know that we definitely won't be the first rowers to make idiots out of ourselves if we screw up. The vets talk to us like we're all at a barbecue and it makes us feel like we're already part of the club. Our turn on the ergonomic machines lets us know this isn't going to be a cake walk. It's a sport, a damn physical one, but we wouldn't be here if we were looking for "easy." The coaches correct everything from our posture, "Backs straight, like a table!", to our butt position on the seat, "Tooshy out, like a dancer on a pole." Say what now?!? Then, suddenly, we're in a boat struggling to put it all together. I find out I don't know anything about rowing! It's 70% legs, 20% core, only 10% arms, and a 60 foot boat is really freaking heavy even with 7 other people helping carry it. We drill and we drill, and the rest of the weekend passes quickly. I go home every night exhausted in the blissful way I haven't felt since I was a teenager and I'm pretty sure I can do this, like, really do this...
My first early morning row after the weekend solidifies the deal. We practice setting the boat, lightly bobbing in the marina as the sun comes up on my right, and I wonder, "When was the last time I saw the sun rise?" The sound of the oars in the oar locks and the swoosh of the water is meditative. Everything else drains away except my new muscle memories. The camaraderie we feel builds as we all give each other tips and encouragement, surrounded by the beauty that brought us to California. Then, I realize, I've hit the jackpot! A workout that challenges both my mind and body, with a slice of belonging on the side, I'm doing it, I'm a rower.
Whether you're looking for a challenging workout a few times a week, or communing with your competitive nature and hoping to race one day, LARC's LTR program is the place. You wouldn't be searching this website if the water and the oars weren't already calling you. Join us for the next class, because "later" can be an awfully long time.
My crew 'practicing'--