top

Evolution Through Revolution

Five generations of Indoor Rower
In the 'A' driving seat - milometer only B had bespoke monitor and air resistance system Model C introduced new chassis Model D offered further refinements Great, Great Grandson - E is the best so far

If you are new to rowing or indoor rowing, you perhaps don't realise that the new Model E is actually the Great, Great Grandson of the original indoor rowing machine Concept2 designed.

It was way back in 1980 that the first machine was unveiled and for the rowing community, it was a revelation. What it turned out to be for the fitness industry was a revolution, as it sowed the seeds of success for one of the fitness industry's most successful products. You have steppers, treadmills, weights, multi-gyms and you have the Concept2.

It is perhaps the only brand that has dominated a sector of the fitness industry so comprehensively for so long and it is now an essential ingredient of almost any gym or club - whatever sport they focus on. The Great, Great Grandfather was called, naturally enough, the Model A. It was designed in 1980 by two engineer rowers from the USA - Peter and Dick Dreissigacker - the same people who have overseen design and development of every model and modification since. Based in Vermont, where winters get very cold indeed, the brothers and their rowing colleagues faced the perennial problem of rivers freezing over, preventing vital time on the water for both training and competitions.

The brothers wanted a solution but the rowing machines on the market didn't mimic the rowing stroke accurately at all and the products were simply not tough enough to withstand the relentless grind of a top class rower.

The solution? - A simple frame with a moving seat carrying a large bicycle wheel with a solid steel 'tyre'. The rower sat on the seat, held a handle and started to row. Around went the heavy wheel - slowed by air resistance from plastic fins mounted around its circumference. Primitive, but it created a near perfect replica of the rowing stroke. A 'stroke' that was infinitely more refined and realistic than anything any rowing machine of the day could offer. The air resistance idea turned out to be a key component.

The 'Model A' Concept2 soon became very popular with rowing clubs, adding a new dimension to land training, and allowing land-based testing and technical coaching.

There were one or two refinements over the first few years of its life but the first major development came along in 1986 with the Model B (below), essentially a refined evolution of the Model A. It had a much smoother and quieter air resistance system which did away with the bicycle wheel idea and utilised a specially designed system and a performance monitor which perhaps proved - through its uniform calibration - to be the other major key to the machine's ultimate success.

No matter where you were, or what machine you were using, you could have a work-out and compare it directly to your own personal best or those of better athletes. This made the machine a key element in the selection process of every rowing team in the world and is a quality that remains unique in the fitness industry today.

The Model B was significant because it took Concept2 Indoor Rowers out of rowing and into the wider public. Its reputation as a robust, reliable total body workout station was gathering pace by the day.

Demand took off and in 1993 Indoor Sport Services unveiled the Model C - which in its ten year life became the world's top selling rowing machine and one of the best selling fitness products thanks to the worldwide growth of gymnasiums and health clubs in the Nineties. It was even being selected as the preferred training device in 'rapid reaction' fitness packs for military task and peace-keeping forces, a task where its lack of external power source, bullet-proof construction and legendary reliability made it ideal.

The further refined Model D was unveiled in 2003, by which time the rise of the Internet had spread the word about the all round health benefits of indoor rowing, given life to huge global on-line communities, and promoted races, world rankings and world records ranging from 500 metres to the almost unbelievable 1,000,000 metre solo race, the record for which is something around one whole week...

So as you enjoy your Concept2 Indoor Rower, enjoy the fact that it is the product of 25 years of hard slog and development.

A thoroughbred and a machine with real pedigree that you can rely on to help take you down that road to health and fitness.