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New to Indoor Rowing?

On this page, we've broken down indoor rowing's main features for you, and made a few suggestions for interesting ways you can use it to add value in school. Just click on a section heading to see more information on that section and follow the links within the text for more detailed information about a specific topic.


Every Child Matters

Can you use indoor rowing to help you enhance your Every Child Matters provision?
Because indoor rowing engages with such a wide range of young people and in so many ways, you can easily tailor it to become an ideal complement to your other activities.

Be healthy

It can be used as a catalyst to teach about, and take part in, a healthy lifestyle as well as being a fun and inclusive activity.

Stay safe

It is inherently a safe activity in itself, plus, participants stay in one place so they are easy to keep track of.

Enjoy and achieve

You'll see lots of smiles - we promise.

Make a positive contribution

Indoor rowing lends itself easily to sponsored fundraising activities. Older children can coach and help younger peers. Junior leaders qualifications are available from the Amateur Rowing Association.

Achieve economic well-being

Happy engaged children have a better chance of economic well-being. We want to do our little bit to help.

Oh, and did we mention those smiles?



As with all other types of competition, indoor rowing is an ideally suited for intra-school events. You can easily project races onto a screen or even the wall with competitors names 'up in lights' - which really appeals to kids and adults alike. Machines are simple to wire together for larger races, and you can even set up an ad-hoc race wirelessly between up to 8 machines!
It is even possible to link several machines together to act as one boat - so, for example, if you have 8 machines you can race 2 teams of four machines (you'll see just 2 boats racing), or 4 teams of two machines (4 boats racing). Each team member's score is added into the pot allowing slower participants to take part and compete on an equal footing without standing out. Perfect for house competitions.


The Indoor Sport Services Schools Indoor Rowing League is a great way to take part in a national schools competition without the hassle of leaving school. It is a series of monthly challenges for teams which take place over the first two terms. Entry is online, as are results, and the whole thing is free to take part in.
Of course you could set up your own leagues, or inter-school competitions; there are examples around the country of almost all formats you can think of (one-off challenges, team races, individual events, year-long competitions - the list goes on). Check out some of the case studies or give us a call for advice and ideas.


Even the least competitive people enjoy trying to improve on their past efforts. The Indoor Sport Services Performance Monitor gives you instant feedback on how you are doing in a variety of ways - even calories burned! Your workouts are stored for future reference so you can see your progress over time. So, even if you don't want anyone else to see what you are doing, you can still get the most from your indoor rowing.

Get Creative

Use the Indoor Rower as a catalyst. You can row to music, create documentary or technical films about indoor rowing, design new software or training programmes. Oh, and get fit while you are doing it!


There are many ways to use the Indoor Rower to raise funds for your school or chosen charity. The most common ways are either to have a one off event or to set a target distance over a period of time. Then you just have to get people to sponsor you...and pay up!!

Participation & Inclusion

Indoor rowing is one activity that appeals to a wide range of hard to reach target groups.

A story we hear repeated again and again all round the country, is that of Key Stage 4 girls who were completely disengaged from traditional PE, but who found indoor rowing and really enjoyed it thereby increasing their activity levels and attendence. For non-ball players and those who don't like running sports it is an enjoyable activity which is inside and sitting down, while being physically challenging and one at which they can often compete and beat the 'usual suspects'.

Physically disabled pupils can take part in an activity where they use the same equipment as their mainstream peers, and for those who are carrying extra weight this is an activity where that extra weight is not such a disadvantage. The stories of increase self-esteem and confidence we hear are heart-warming.

Achieve Your Targets

The Indoor Sport Services performance monitor is a powerful tool which provides consistent and reliable data, both for the user and for the teacher. Because of this feature it is an excellent tool to help evaluate performance over time and to measure progress towards your targets for healthy schools and PSHE.

See "Evaluating and Improving Performance" further down this page


National Competitions

There is a long history of competition within the indoor rowing world.

The British Indoor Rowing Championships are the largest in the world attracting up to 3000 entrants. It is held at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in November each year, and has individual and team events for ages 10 and above.

The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships is run by London Youth Rowing and is held annually in London in March and attracts entries from all over the UK.

There are also 4 national races English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish which have junior sections.


It is really easy to set up an ad-hoc wireless race with up to 8 Concept2 Indoor Rowers. All you need is the latest PM4 Performance Monitor and some willing racers. 30 seconds and you are away.

Racers get a count down to the off, then while they are racing they can see where they stand in the race, how far they are in front and behind their adversaries and how the end result plays out. This type of on-screen action appeals to many kids and often gets them taking several attempts given half a chance.

Projected on the Wall

The official name for this is Venue Racing. The software to run the races is available free as a download from the Indoor Sport Services website. Machines need to be wired together which is a straightforward operation with the latest Performance Monitor, the PM4. Once wired up, all you need is a laptop with the software on and a projector and in 5 minutes you can have a race up and running.

You can then run team races, individual sprints or even that months Schools League challenge up on the big screen. This really adds another dimension to the whole event and can create quite a spectacle.

Partnership Wide

Why not run your own School Sport Partnership Indoor Rowing Challenge?

You could run it as a virtual race with each team posting their results, or as a live event where several schools meet at one venue and let battle commence there! Some Partnerships use their Junior Leaders to run the events, rather than staff which adds an extra dimension and gives everyone involved more ownership.

Why not get cross-curricular and engage your ICT department to see if you can link up different locations somehow during a race? One school had a video link around the school intranet and a live commentary on the races.

Schools League

The Indoor Sport Services Schools Indoor Rowing League is a great way to take part in a national schools competition without the hassle of leaving school. It is a series of monthly challenges for teams which take place over the first two terms. Entry is online, as are results, and the whole thing is free to take part in.

Of course you could set up your own leagues, or inter-school competitions; there are examples around the country of almost all formats you can think of (one-off challenges, team races, individual events, year-long competitions - the list goes on). Check out some of the case studies or give us a call for advice and ideas.


Everyone likes to be rewarded for their efforts. Our Distance Awards Schemes recognise persistence and achievement rather than out and out performance. There are two levels:

Junior DAS - The Junior Category has been launched predominately for Key Stage 2 and SEN children, but anyone can use it to get started. free certificates are available for download, which start easily and progressively lead pupils towards the youth category.

Youth DAS - All you have to do is let us know as you pass the qualifying distances and we will send you the relevant reward - certificates or medals depending.

Pupils can carry on with the DAS after they leave school giving them an incentive to carry on exercising into adulthood.


If you are looking for an activity which helps bring your pupils out of their shells, improves their health and wellbeing and introduces them to a sport they can take with them throughout their life, then indoor rowing should be on your list.

Children with a wide spectrum of physical disabilities including wheelchair users can access the healthy benefits of indoor rowing using Adapt-2-Row seats or ErgChatter which is a piece of free software that those with visual impairments can try.

Children with a wide range of learning difficulties too can benefit form a safe, closed activity which adjusts to their level. For some, just developing arm strength is useful, while for others coordination development is important. For mild learning challenges the ICT and data gathering capabilities are useful - having the kids' own data to work with in Excel, for example, (and not having to manually input it!) has benefitted one school - the children are more interested (as it relates directly to them) and they have exercised while gathering the numbers too!

Become A Champion!

Let's face it, there aren't as many people doing indoor rowing as, say, football...yet. Which means your pupils have a chance to become a national champion. Imagine what that could do for self esteem, confidence etc!

Evaluating And Improving Performance

There are a variety of ways in which you can monitor and evaluate progress using the Concept2 Indoor Rower. The vital component is the Performance Monitor which captures and relays accurate and reliable data from your workouts.

There are several ways in which you can access those numbers:-

All this can be a useful tool for collecting SEF form evidence and for evaluating the fitness of your pupils.

Weight Management

Indoor rowing exercises all major muscle groups and is a weight-bearing activity. This means it is ideally suited to those who wish to maintain weight or lose excess poundage, and it has the added benefit of improving cardiovascular health at the same time.

Furthermore, indoor rowing often appeals to those who may be carrying excess weight, both because it is non-impact, and because larger people can have a mechanical advantage which gives confidence and motivation to those who by definition may not be natural exercisers.

The instant and reliable feedback given by the Performance Monitor can also help with motivation over extended periods of time. If you can see improvements happening in front of your eyes, you are probably more likely to carry on exercising.

Acquiring And Developing Skills

Despite looking easy when the professionals do it, there is more to indoor rowing technique than meets the eye. It is easy to get started if you are new to the sport, but there are several new coordination skills you will need to hone in order to get better scores. Pupils will soon learn about the difference between stroke rate and power and how to develop rhythm; if taught good technique they will learn for themselves how timing and coordination are important, and so on.

If team relays are introduced, as in the Schools League, then elements of teamwork and race planning can be introduced into the mix. For those pupils who attempt to push themselves to get better and better scores, many elements of physiology - such as the cardio-vascular system for example - will become markedly more noticeable than before opening the way to illustrate the training effect etc.

Cross-Curricular Links

Accurate, accessible data means you can use the rower to generate numbers for a variety of uses in Maths, Science and ICT (see below). Because the numbers generated are the pupils' own, they tend to have more ownership and are therefore often more interested in the work you are asking them to do.

Make use of the Concept2 Indoor Rower to enhance science lessons. Why not use accurate data gathered from the pupils themselves to illustrate changes in heart rate with exercise. Or use the rower as a tool to explore areas such as Homeostasis, Movement and Respiration. Power developed is shown in Watts, and work done is recorded in Calories which can be used to develop skills for Obtaining and Analysing evidence.



PMI stands for Performance Monitor Interface. It allows you to communicate with the Concept2 through a standard USB cable and makes all the data generated by the rower available for you to use, live, on your computer. Don't be put off if it sounds too 'techie' for you. It is a powerful tool, but it starts at a pretty basic level. In its simplest form you do not need to do much more than drawing and formatting text boxes. And it is free.

You could design a new, improved user interface for example, or capture and record data automatically. Great for projects in ICT or Maths perhaps.

There is a full manual and a growing stock of example templates for you to use and adapt.

More info on the PMI


When you slide a log card into the monitor, it takes over the monitor memory and stores your workout onto the card rather than the monitor. You can then download the data from the card onto your computer using our free Log card Utility software. It is more basic than the PMI, and is a simple starting point. You get one card with each new machine and you can buy more later if you wish.

You could use this in school to store a record of the work done on the rower by your pupils for PSHE. Alternatively it enables you to use pupils' own data in maths or science lessons, thereby drawing cross-curricular links and giving them ownership of the results.

More info on the LogCard

Play Games

Go Fishing!

Not everyone sees the point in physical activity for its own sake. How do we get kids active for whom exercise is a complete turn off?

Built in to the software on the Performance Monitor is a clever little game called the Fish Game. It last 4 minutes, is great fun and involves winning points rather than going a certain distance. For the play station generation this is a nice way to introduce them to fun physical activity. It is short duration, you don't have to work too hard and gives instant rewards and feedback.

You could even hold a Fish Game league or persuade your technology fans to design another game for themselves using the PMI.


In the latest firmware for the PM4 there is also the Darts game. This game rewards consistency in stroke rate and power output. You get 300 darts to 'throw' in a game and your score is calculated just like a real game of darts. Whether you are a new rower trying to learn how to be consistent or an experienced rower working to get comfortable at a new pace, the Darts game is a terrific tool for you.

Games in Lessons

Within Indoor Sport Services's teacher resources are a number of ideas for games and challenges you can set your pupils. These have been designed by teachers, SSCOs and PDMs to help teach specific skills such as teamwork, the rudiments of race planning and technique. You can use them anywhere you think they would be suitable - within the classroom or indoor rowing club for example.

There is nothing to stop you coming up with your own games or developing our offerings - in fact, that is what they are there for!

A good chunk of our teacher training course is spent passing on experience as to how best to use these games to achieve your aims.

Teach skills with games

At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, children are designed to learn through play.

Our teacher resource packs offer a number of ideas for games and challenges that you can use to teach good basic technical skills for indoor rowing. Others introduce cross curricular aspects into PE or introduce tactics and teamwork skills or the rudiments of race planning, which go far beyond indoor rowing.

Easily Run Events

You can easily set up an event at school using indoor rowing. People love to see the race projected onto the wall with their name 'up in lights'. The software you need is free and pretty easy to work. The PM4 monitor is easy to wire up and most schools have access to a laptop and projector.

You can run individual or team events, inter- or intra-school; for fun or fundraising. The possibilities are endless!

Why not set up your own school league or house competitions. For example Birmingham & Nottingham both have Indoor Schools Rowing Championships with heats throughout the year and big finales. Junior Leaders are even used to run the events bringing yet another dimension to it.


The Indoor Sport Services Teacher Resource pack includes a number of schemes of work, units of work and lesson plan templates to get you started delivering indoor rowing within the curriculum. There are plenty of hints and ideas to get you started included in teacher friendly format - written by teachers for teachers.



Indoor rowing is a great way to engage pupils who are disaffected with PE for what ever reason. It can be used at GCSE and above or for younger children; for competition or PSHE the range of possibilities is huge.


Ideal for school sport activities, the Schools Indoor Rowing League is a great way to compete against other schools without travelling. Racing is easy to organise either within classes or schools, or between schools. There is even a National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships in the spring term each year.


The obvious route for club links from indoor rowing is on-water rowing, but don't be fooled, there are many other sports where indoor rowing plays a role. Sailing, rugby, triathlon and canoeing all use Indoor Sport Services machines and indoor rowing experience will provide a good base of fitness for those wishing to move into these activities, as well as giving the participant an edge in terms of confidence using the Indoor Rower. Not forgetting, of course, that over 90% of gyms and fitness centres in the UK provide Indoor Sport Services rowers.


Indoor rowing is one activity that appeals to a wide range of hard to reach target groups such as Black and Minority Ethnic groups, KS4 girls, SEN pupils and other disaffected groups.

For the overweight and obese, indoor rowing is a weight-bearing activity that can be tailored to an individual's needs. It exercises all major muscle groups and so is very time efficient and gives instant and accurate feedback of progress as well as allowing workout results to be downloaded to computer for storage.

In terms of self-esteem and confidence, indoor rowing can be used to help encourage those kids who may not perceive themselves as sporty. Often the larger, less coordinated children have a mechanical advantage over their peers and can achieve sporting success for the first time in their lives. The positive knock on effects can be remarkable. Similarly, SEN pupils can take part in an activity where they use the same equipment as their mainstream peers and achieve sometimes outstanding results.

Extended Schools

Indoor rowing is ideal for communality use projects within your school since it appeals to children and adults alike, is easy to set up, available to almost anyone and can be used for activities such as Crew Class (group rowing to music).

Why not try after school Mothers and Daughters sessions as part of your varied menu of activities?

Extra-curricular Clubs

Breakfast, lunchtime and after-school clubs are all out there. Some are competitive affairs while others have a more informal 'drop-in' feel to them. However you want to run your clubs, indoor rowing can form either part, or all, of what you do.

Combined with motivators like the Schools Indoor Rowing League and the Distance Award Schemes indoor rowing can be a powerful tool to get your school more active.

Workforce Health

Don't forget that your staff need to stay fit and healthy too! Why not start up an after-school indoor rowing club for staff. There is even a parents and teachers event in the Schools Indoor Rowing League - and you don't want the kids to get the upper hand now... do you?

Straightforward Packs for Schools

A Indoor Sport Services Indoor Rowing machine is a self contained package in itself. It gives you everything you need to get rowing.

For schools who would like to make use of all the possibilities such as data storage & recall, projecting races onto the wall and other cross-curricular potential, we have put together some Schools Packs so you can be sure that, in one purchase you have got all the hardware you need to take advantage of all those features and more.

Get trained/CPD

C2 Teacher Training

How and why should I bother with indoor rowing?

Indoor Sport Services's Teacher Training courses are designed to help teachers who are new to indoor rowing answer that question. We have put lots of work into giving you a head start and limiting the amount of extra work you have to do to get going so you can achieve your aims as quickly as possible.

You'll find out how to engage a whole class with less machines than pupils, how to teach good basic technique, how to set up a race and project it onto a screen. Hopefully you'll leave the course inspired.

Other C2 courses

Indoor Sport Services run other courses for those interested in learning more about indoor rowing.

Instructor Course: Aimed at those who want to be able to instruct newcomers to the machine in good basic technique. See Details in the training section.

Crew Class: Crew Class is group rowing to music. This course is a more in depth course than the Instructor Course and requires a good grasp of technique. Crew class is great fun and a really good motivator. See Details in the training section.

Amateur Rowing Association (ARA) courses are available

Visit the British Rowing website for more details:

Key Stage 2

The Concept2 Indoor Rower is clever. It only provides resistance relative to the amount of work you put in. This means that if you don't pull very hard, there is not much resistance. You don't have to adjust anything for this to happen.

The upshot of this is that even younger pupils can use the Concept2 Indoor Rower safely to learn and develop new skills. It is one way for you to illustrate that there are other ways out there to keep fit and healthy, besides ball sports or running activities and in this way you can help them develop enjoyment of physical activity in general.

As you are well aware, every child is different and has differing needs and development rates. We don't recommend using indoor rowing for training -as opposed to general exercise and skill development- until the child is ready physically and emotionally to do so. We have to leave it to you to decide when this is, but as a guide our experience shows that KS2 children are generally able to benefit and enjoy indoor rowing in complete safety.