The rowing machine, or ergometer, strikes most people as an older and outdated exercise machine. It is not uncommon to go into a gym and see ergometers go largely unused. But as you may suspect, there’s more to this machine than most people are aware of. The story of the ergometer has been centuries in the making. Let’s take a look at the amazing history of the rowing machine.
Fourth Century B. C.
The rowing machine’s origin begins in the fourth century B. C., courtesy of an Athenian named Chabrias. A celebrated admiral, Chabrias constructed wooden devices on land to train new crewmen how to row before they went onto an actual ship. These were the very first ergometers.
The next chapter of the rowing machine’s history is during the late nineteenth century. Early rowers were in circulation then, mainly as training tools for those who did a lot of outdoor rowing. During this time, a particular design that was widely used was patented in 1872 by William Buckingham Curtis – better known as WB Curtis. These machines operated via hydraulics, a common aspect of most machinery during this era.
The 1950s And Onward
This was an important milestone in the ergometer’s saga, despite the fact that these machines were not very ergonomic nor could they determine how effective a workout on them was. The next step in ergometer development would come after the 1950s. Rowing machines were being made specifically to train for rowing and were able to measure rowing power. The notable achievement of this time period was developed by a member of the Leichardt Rowing Club named John Harrison, and could accurately measure a person’s power output.
Yet another major step forward took place in the 1970s in the form of the Gjessing-Nilson ergometer. While building on the popular flywheel design that had been in use for years before it, this machine added something new to the equation: it provided adjustable speed and friction. This rowing machine was the standard bearer for years after that.
Into The Modern Era
And the evolution of the rowing machine continued steadily. 1980 saw the rise of the Concept2 machine, created by Dick and Pete Dreissigacker. The Concept2 set the tone for introducing groundbreaking features over the years, such as sliding seat design and the very first digital performance monitor.
It doesn’t stop there – the ergometer is still evolving and changing, even as we speak. As a result, it is an efficient and powerful workout machine that can help you get fit. Now that you know the history of this amazing device, look forward to some of the best rowing machines available and see which one may be right for you – even while you’re at home!