Coach Fola Awosika Row Vigor

Arlington now has RowVigor studio

rowing in green shoes on my concept2 indoor rowerThis morning I met with coach Fola Awosika of Row Vigor for my Foundations class. I was the only one in the class so I got to spend some great time chatting with Fola about Row Vigor. Fola quickly discovered that I have been rowing and erging since 1988 so he gave me back my free credit for another class such as To The Core, Heart-to-Heart, or Erg Flow. Currently, RowVigor is a pop up studio attached to the Saffron Dance studio at 3260 Wilson Blvd in North Arlington, VA.  


To the Core: Keep your abdominals in beach-ready form all year around. Sculpt, shape, shred with these hardcore functional movements. Reduce lower back pain and stiffness and tighten up your core simultaneously.

Heart-to-Heart: This is the ultimate in cardiovascular fitness. An array of cutting-edge rowing concepts produce an extremely challenging, calorie burning, kick butt class. Prepare to be totally drenched and exhilarated all while training the most important muscle of all, your heart.

Erg Flow: Stroke form and rhythm are key to an efficient rower whether on the water or on the erg. Increase muscular strength, stamina and mobility while perfecting you optimal form and cadence using erg flow.

Foundations: This is a required first class for any student new to ROWViGOR™. ‘Foundations’ introduces new students to the indoor erg with proper form. This class will help you gain confidence to create your most effective and efficient workout.

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chris Abraham Lat Pulldowns

Building muscle for rowing

2016-07-31 21.20.51I’ve actually worked How to Build Muscle for Rowing Review into my workout.  The workout is very simple: seven machine-based workouts, four on one day, skip a day, three on the other. I started out with Betsy at the King Street XSport Fitness so that I could get my max weight sorted out as a baseline: leg press: 240lbs, chest press: 110lbs, lat pulldown: 120lbs, ab crunch machine: 70lbs; then, shoulder press: 55lbs, bicep curls: 90lbs, and triceps extensions: 70lbs. So, that’s the baseline.  I’m starting slow as I haven’t been weight training a lot in a couple-few years. But I am recovering quickly — very quickly.

Here are my numbers so far — I’m working out at my local XSport Express:

Date Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Leg Chest Lats Abs Day
7/26/2016 Leg Press 240 8 3
7/26/2016 Chest Press 110 8 3
7/26/2016 Lat Pulldown 120 8 3
7/26/2016 Crunch Machine 70 8 3
Shoulder Bicep Triceps Day
7/29/2016 Shoulder Press 55 8 3
7/29/2016 Bicep Curls 90 8 3
7/29/2016 Triceps Extension 70 8 3
Leg Chest Lats Abs Day
7/31/2016 Leg Press 240 10 3
7/31/2016 Chest Press 110 10 3
7/31/2016 Lat Pulldown 120 10 3
7/31/2016 Crunch Machine 70 10 3

How to Build Muscle for Rowing Book CoverThe program is interesting: 6 weeks of the Build Phase, 4 weeks of the Fail Phase, and then 2 weeks of recovery. The Build Phase should have 12 sessions and a maximum of 18 workouts. Each session is defined by the book: first session, 8 reps of max weight for three sets.

Session 2, the one I am in, says, “using your ten repetition maximum, complete 3 sets of 8. But this time, try to exceed 8 repetitions per set and stop when you reach failure. Rest for 60-seconds between each set.”

Session 3 will be even weirder, “using your ten repetition maximum, complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions. But this time, try to exceed 10 repetitions per set and stop when you reach failure. Rest for 60-seconds between each set.” 

To move on from session 2 — which I feel like I can already do — I need to do 30 reps total per each exercise and to move on from session 3 I need to complete a total of 36 reps for per each exercise set. Get it? It’s incrementally progressive.  I feel like when I did my max weight last week my muscles weren’t warmed up so the lifting is easy this week; however, the way the system works, it speeds up if the weight’s not challenging enough, and it backs off if you’re struggling. 

And if you fail to “pass” your session, you repeat it again until you pass, which means this system isn’t going to hockey-stick, where the weight gets added and compounds until you’re lifting the equivalent density of a collapsed star or white dwarf. 

Once you hit the Fail Phase, you no longer track your track your sets and reps. Instead, you lift until you can no longer move the weight. Then you’ll decrease the weight and keep on lifting until you can move almost no weight at all. Total spaghetti arms and legs those four weeks!

Then, the Rest Phase is simple: do no resistance training at all for two weeks (this phase is not optional, though keep up with protein supplementation)

2016-07-29 21.26.38Believe it or not, the workout includes drink 20-25 grams of protein or more within a half-hour of the workout, so I have been doing that with Muscle Milk that I get at the XSport Fitness fridge; that said, I will be moving over to a milk+whey protein+creatine mix right after I pick up some sort of milk. I’ll vary between soy, almond, rich, and cow’s milk. 

Now that I am no longer sort after these very short weightlifting sessions, I shall add some serious cardio to the mix, adding rows in my Concept2 Indoor Rower, adding runs around the neighborhood to see if I can get my mad-slow but reliable 3-5-mile jogs back into the mix (at an aspiration 12:00-13:00 pace, especially in this heat).

2016-07-26 20.14.01I will also start today with the kettlebell swinging I had promised myself and you I would be doing, taken from the pages of Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings: swinging a kettlebell for 90-seconds every 60-minutes all day long.  

Starting with a blue 12kg bell I will set my GymBoss MiniMax for the workout and then stop what I’m doing every hour to two hand swings for a minute.  One mistake I did make before that I won’t make again: don’t swing your kettlebells without stretching your body.

Even though you’re only doing work for 60-seconds, you really should cool down and stretch for a couple minutes out of the hour. So, give yourself a good 5-7 minutes around that 60-seconds of intense kettlebell work to cool down gracefully so that you don’t seize up — it’s happened to me.

Potomac Boat Club Floating Dock

Out of the frying pan onto water

Remember when I was running 5ks? It seems like only yesterday I was literally kicking ass and taking names at 9Round Penrose and doing Pacers-sponsored 5k races. Well, that took a break.

I caught some sort of bug and tried to use my human immune system to fight off the invading armies with sleep, liquids, OTC drugs, and some some healthy living.

After ten days, it wasn’t working. I visited the INOVA clinic down the street on Columbia Pike and actually said no to what would have ended the debilitating acute sinusitis that then became some sort of acute ear infection — another ten days.

Finally, I went back and was prescribed a ZPACK: ten more days.

Then, ten more days to recover from the cough, congestion, sputum, and sore throat. 

Well, in the middle of that, I was cordially invited to become a full member of Potomac Boat Club, something I had been interested in doing since I was a teenage college rower on GWU Crew.

The boathouse at the end of Water Street in Georgetown is an athletic club. The one you can see from Key Bridge or Rosslyn. The one with the red floating dock with the bright white star on it. 

But I am back to square one. After close to forty days of sleeping a lot and rarely working more than three or four hours-a-day, I am returning to this blog, the RNNR blog, and getting back on track.

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How to Build Muscle for Rowing Review

How to Build Muscle for Rowing Book Cover How to Build Muscle for Rowing
Jack Gorcika
Amazon Digital Services LLC
June 17, 2013
27 pages

How to Build Muscle for Rowing is such a simple and persistent gym machine-based workout that it just might work. Just leg press, lat pulldown, bench press, shoulder press, weighted situps (ab machine), bicep curls, triceps extension. But it's a very progressive and demanding workout that is also very gentle on the body while realizing that the goal is rowing on the water faster.  The book is only available on Kindle so you can only get it on Amazon.

sea Urchin

I used to freedive by myself as a teen growing up in Hawaii

Nikon nikonos 3I used to freedive by myself as a teen growing up in Hawaii. I carried a Nikonos III and a knife. I tied my leg to a 100′ white nylon line that tied to a float and a dive flag. I launched from Kaimana Beach.

Whenever I got hungry, after a couple hours or so, I would tuck into the plentiful sea urchins, tapping open a hole on tip with the butt of the dive knife, like in this photo, but with my fingers instead of a spoon and spiced with brine.

mahi WreckI didn’t drink water until I ended up kicking to shore. I wore these fins and ignored things like shallow water blackout and the buddy system.

I could easily hyperventilate, take a deep breath, and then kick down to the the Mahi Ship Wreck.

Ha ha! Memories of Hawaii.

Smoky Chipotle Refried Beans

Smoky Chipotle Refried Beans

Smoky Chipotle Refried Beans
Serves 8
This delicious vegan treat is featured in Scott Jurek Eat & Run book and looked so delicious that I ordered even the crazy ingredients like dried epazote and dried Kombu seaweed!
Write a review
Prep Time
8 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 35 min
Total Time
9 hr 35 min
Prep Time
8 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 35 min
Total Time
9 hr 35 min
  1. 3 cups dried pinto beans
  2. 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  3. 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  4. Half inch piece dried Kombu seaweed
  5. 1-2 dried whole chipotle peppers or canned chipotles in adobo to taste
  6. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  7. 2 teaspoons dried epazote (can substitute cilantro)
  8. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  9. 1 and a half teaspoons sea salt
  1. Soak the beans in water to cover by 2 inches, 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans in a colander a few times, then transfer to a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, seaweed, chipotles, and spices. Add water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour, or until the beans are soft and cooked through.
  2. Drain the beans, reserving 4 cups of the liquid, remove the seaweed. Remove the chiles, or leave one in if spicier beans are desired. Cool the beans for 15 minutes, then place in a food processor along with half cup of the liquid and process until smooth. If desired, you may thin the beans with additional cooking liquid.
  3. Return the pureed beans to the pot with the olive oil and salt. Simmer over low to medium-low heat for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve warm.
  1. Refried beans keep refrigerated for 5 to 6 days or freeze well several months.
Adapted from Swupper via Eat & Run
Blue CFF Fit 12KG Kettlebell Competiton

I’m swinging a kettlebell for 90-seconds every 60-minutes

Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings Book Cover Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings
Don Fitch
Exercise & Fitness
Well-Being Skills
April 19, 2013

I am very sedentary. They tell me that sitting kills. So, I took to kettlebells. I work from home so I can workout during the day. At first I would do one 45-60-minute kettlebell workout but then I discovered Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings: Just 12 Minutes a Day to Lose Weight, Prevent Sitting Disease, Hone Your Body and Tone Your Booty! and feel like I won the lottery.

I could get off my butt every hour (I am using a GymBoss interval timer to keep track of it) and swing my kettlebell for 90-second every 60-minutes. They say that the two-handed kettlebell swing is all you need to get oneself into phenomenal shape, both fitness and strength.

I don't even really break a sweat, though I am only running a 12kg kettlebell until I can slowly build to my 16kg, my 20kg, and ultimately my 24kg bells.  Even though the workouts are for only 90-seconds every hour, maybe 6-12-times-a-day, they really build up and I can feel it in my glutes and hamstrings almost immediately.

The only thing that one must do is to be sure to stretch and not to just sit down on the couch right afterwards.  As kettlebell god Pavel likes to say, after you do kettlebell swings, you need to make sure you don't hunch forwards, that you should sit or stand proudly upright. 

So, if you decide to add Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings into your workout routine, be sure not to underestimate their effects on your entire body. Warm-up, cool down, stretch, and be sure not to allow your body to seize up. 

If you give maybe 90-seconds to stretching and cooling down after every 90-second workout, you've still only "wasted" a total of 3-minutes every hour on exercise, a combined 18-36-minutes/day, max!  More like 9 minutes if you don't stretch and 18 if you do.

Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings: Just 12 Minutes a Day to Lose Weight, Prevent Sitting Disease, Hone Your Body and Tone Your Booty!

I mentioned that I had become obsessed with Don Fitch‘s deceptively easy Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings ebook back in October of last year, right after I realized that swinging a kettlebell for 90-seconds every 60-minutes can very well be punishing if you go from cold to hot without ever warming up and cooling down.  

I started doing this sustainable workout and quickly injured myself.

Well, almost 8-months later and I am back at it. Starting today, I am trying it again and have been doing it all day — or, at least since I got in to the office at around noon.

Because I don’t want to hurt myself, I am easing myself into kettlebells by doing all my swings using a light-for-me 12 kilogram competition kettlebell that I bought from Christian’s Fitness Factory AKA CFF-FIT.

Blue CFF Fit 12KG Kettlebell CompetitonA reminder, if you’re going to engage in 90-seconds of vigorous kettlebell swings every hour, all day long, every day, even with only a single 12kg bell, then a stretching regimen is essential. 90-seconds is longer than you think so use the lightest weight you can in order to swing your kettlebell with perfect form for a minute-and-a-half every hour over the course of the entire day.

I’m giving it a go, though I don’t want it to replace other things I am doing like running, like my running commutes, my Concept2 rowing pieces, challenging 30-minute full-body workouts at 9Round and streaming workouts via DailyBurn.

Gymboss Minimax Interval TimerWhy am I doing it? Well, it gets me off of my duff or away from work for at least 90-seconds every hour. Sometimes I am on my treadmill desk or working sitting on my Swiss Exercise Ball and it’s not too essential that I swing every hour, other times I disappear into sedentary work on my office’s sofa and having my GymBoss beep at me that it’s time to swing my a kettlebell for 90-seconds really breaks through my tendency to hyper-focus and lose an entire day lost in work from deep in the couch.

standing-quadricepsstretch-step1I set them up simply: the first interval is 100-seconds, which gives me ten seconds to get to the bell and start swinging, and the second interval is for 60-minutes. 

I have the GymBoss set up to repeat 12-times even though the book recommends 8 sets for a total of two minutes. 

standing-hamstringstretch-step1I feel like the only stretches that I will need to do at the end of every 90-second session are the calf-stretch, the standing quadriceps stretch, standing hamstring stretch, and the hip adductors (inner thigh) stretch — what am I missing?

calf-stretch-step2What stretches should I do every time that I am missing and what should I maybe do at the beginning or at the end of my swinging day.

Anyway, please let me know in the comments.

Wish me luck! Good luck to you, too!


Running: Wed, 4 May 2016 11:17:26

Running: Wed, 4 May 2016 00:25:06

Hoka One One Bondi 3 and Hoka One One Bondi 4

Why I prefer the Hoka One One Bondi 3

My First Bondi 4s

My First Bondi 4s

I did a lot of research before I bought my first pair of Hokas and I bought them from Pacers Running’s Alexandria location for around $140.

This review is not about price, it’s about everything else and then price.

But I am a big guy so if something that costs me $140 can get me running at 46-years-old, at 300 pounds, and at 6″3″, then the price is more than fair — and quite a lot less than some of the most fancy and popular runners. 

The Bondi 4 and the Bondi 3 are pretty identical except for four changes:

  • The 4 has a padded tongue and the 3 has a flat tongue
  • The 4 has more padding in the collar than the 3
  • The 4 has more exposed EVA midsole and the 3 has more rubber outsole
  • The upper materials of the 4 and the 3 are different

Padded Tongue vs Flat Tongue

Hoka One One Bondi 3 Thin Tongues

Hoka One One Bondi 3 Thin Tongues

When I researched the Bondi shoes, lots of people were said to have complained about the Bondi 3’s flat, thin tongue, and that’s why Hoka revised the tongue of the Bondi 4, adding padding.

When Bondi did their revision between the 3 and 4, Hoka added quite a lot of padding to both the tongue and the collar. At first, I thought I would prefer the padded collar and tongue to help me lock down the shoe for runs.

Hoka One One Bondi 4 Padded Tongues

Hoka One One Bondi 4 Padded Tongues

Unfortunately, there’s just too much padding and it tends to squeeze/cinch my ankles and compete too much with my socks. I ordered an old, lightly-used pair of Bondi 3s and really loved the thin tongue and the thinner padded collar.

The 3s and 4s both come with a quick lacing system as well as a pair of regular laces.

I swapped out the quick lacing system for regular laces on my Bondi 4s and first pair of Bondi 3s; however, when I bought my second pair of Bondi 3s used off of Ebay, the extra pair of laces didn’t make it to me so I have just been using the quick laces and they’ve been fine and I don’t plan to switch them out.

I had planned to use that pair only for walking on my treadmill and not for running and racing but there’s never the right pair of running shoes where you need them, be it at my office or at my apartment, so I have been running in the quick laced Bondi 3s and they’re just fine.

Exposed EVA versus Semi-Protected EVA

Hoka One One Bondi 4 EVA Sole Wear

Hoka One One Bondi 4 EVA Sole Wear

Everyone who has reviewed both Bondis have loved the 33mm EVA soles and nobody has said that the wearing off of big patches of EVA has reduced the lifespan of any of the shoes.

That said, I’m a heavy forefoot runner and the bare EVA on the Bindi 4s are really wearing off in hollows.

Hoka One One Bondi 3 EVA Sole Wear

Hoka One One Bondi 3 Sole Wear

While the Bondi 3s are virtually the same, there’s just enough rubber outsole protecting the 29mm of forefoot EVA and the 33mm of heel EVA that I feel like the Bondi 3s are just going to last longer.

The way the Bondi 4’s exposed forefoot EVA is wearing, I am super afraid that I’ll start supinating, rolling my foot out instead of getting steady support.  

I know from all the ultra runner reviews from Fellrnr and the Ginger Runner that the wearing of exposed EVA is pretty much just cosmetic and doesn’t really effect the performance or longevity of either pair of the shoes.

Lightweight Mesh vs Lycra Upper

2016-05-03 18.22.51-2I don’t have a lot to say about this except that my baby toe prefers the boxier toe box and mesh materials of the Hone One One Bondi 3 over the more snug, lycra upper that they call their ComfortFrame upper.

I have learned that these Hokas don’t need to be as cinched down as other running shoes I have run before because the Hokas tend to be more of a cushioned platform you run on as opposed to the way minimalist shoes need to play the part of being armored and mildly cushioned socks.

With the Hokas, you’re on the shoe and with other running shoes, you’re more in the shoes. Does that make sense?

2016-05-03 18.27.21-2As a result, you can leave the shoes a little more loosely tied and loosely strapped, especially in the case of my Bondi 3 shoes, because what you’re really doing is carrying around a well-cushioned landing pad with you in the form of a shoe rather than the more typical way a shoe fits.

If you’re having problems with the shoe fitting properly, you might just want to try not tying the shoes so tight.  With the Bondi 3s, I never have a problem with the storied and feared Hoka blisters that result in some crazy cutting and modding of the shoes.

That my report so far. I am surprised that I love the “before” much more than the “after,” the Bondi 3 much more than the Bondi 4.  

2016-05-03 18.28.12-2I have been bidding on as many “good enough” men’s size 13 Hoka One One Bondi 3s as I can on Ebay just to make sure I have them as far into the future as I can.

If I could never get more Bondi 3 Hokas on discount, clearance, or auction, I would be happy to commit much more fully to the Bondi 4s, though I might also be willing to try other Hoka One One models as well as give the maximalist Altra shoes a go as well, since they’re known for their wider toe boxes and their zero drop shoes.

25562625732_255f45b2fb_oThat said, let me underscore the fact that I probably would not be (able to be) commute running the 2.25 miles from my apartment to my office twice-a-day, be able to run a 45.5-minute 5k, and a longer 7-mile run without these maximalist shoes.

They’re essential to what I can do as a 46-year old man with an ACL-rebuilt, a 6’3″ frame, and over 300 pounds on my frame. They’re my secret weapon and I recommend everyone in my position do the same, even if you, like me, have no plans of becoming an ultra runner or even running a half-marathon.

Please let me know what you think. What experiences have you had? What shoes do you use and what shoes might you recommend I try in lieu of the Bondi series of Hoka One Ones?

2016-05-03 18.41.55