Get Inspired: How to get into Rowing

Get Inspired: Steve Redgrave on rowing
Fast Answers
Why get into Rowing?It's a physical, exciting and social sport that helps you work effectively in a team.
Who is it for?If you're looking for a fantastic way to stay in shape and you love being on the water, rowing is perfect for you.
Is there a cheap option?Most clubs will offer subsidised rates for juniors, students and social members. Free taster sessions at some clubs are also available.
What if I want a proper workout?Rowing is one of the most physically demanding sports. It requires huge strength and lung-busting stamina.
Can I take it to another level?Join a local club and unleash your competitive side!
Is there a disability option?'Rowability' from British Rowing aims to encourage anyone who has a physical, sensory or learning impairment to start rowing.
Is there a family option?Lots of clubs run taster sessions at weekends and during school holidays- so you can get the whole family involved!

Rowing is a diverse and all-embracing sport. Whether you're new to the activity or you've got some experience in the water, you don't need to be an Olympic-standard athlete to get out and enjoy the United Kingdom's waterways!external-link

There is a wide range of ways for people of all abilities to compete, including personal challenges, indoor rowing, ocean crossings, regattas and international competitions.

Anyone interested in taking part can contact their local club by using the British Rowing,external-linkRowing Ireland,external-linkScottish Rowing external-linkand Welsh Rowingexternal-link club finders.

Fine Boats

Rowers in a Fine boat

Most people are familiar with fine boat racing as the discipline included in the Olympic Games. The boats generally have one, two, four or eight seats and often have a coxswain to steer and direct the crew from the back. Rowing in a small group requires precise coordination and excellent communication skills- and due to how physically demanding it can be, you will definitely get fit! Visit British Rowingexternal-link for more information on the basics of rowing.

Indoor Rowing

British Indoor Rowing Championships

Indoor Rowing is a great way to give your body a full body workout, get fit and tone up. It's really taken off over the country in the last few years with the British Indoor Rowing Championships recently taking place in London. Indoor Rowingexternal-link also offers you the opportunity to hone your rowing technique and develop your drive and focus, achieving real, tangible results in the process.

Coastal and Open Water Rowing

Coastal rowing

Open water and coastal rowingexternal-link allows you to experience nature and get fit at the same time. It's is often considered more recreational and is less driven by competition, which makes it a great social activity to get involved in. Unlike the majority of competitive rowing, this discipline takes place across an area of unprotected "open" water. Participants often have to battle with the elements, so for this reason, the boats are wider and designed to withstand rougher sea conditions.

Surf Rowing

surf rowing

If you're an adrenaline junkie then surf rowing will be right up your street. Imagine the fun to be had riding the waves in a fibre-glass Surfboat with three other rowers plus a steersman! The discipline requires a higher number of strokes per minute to that of flat water rowing due to rough surf conditions. Races consist of teams rowing from the beach to a turning buoy, which is 400 meters out, and back. If you want to experience the spills and thrills of surf rowing visit the UK Surf Rowers Leagueexternal-link.

Recreational Rowing

Family rowing in a wooden boat

Recreational rowing can be enjoyed by all the family and is the perfect way for children to learn the basics of the sport using wider boats so you're less likely to fall in! If you don't have time to train regularly, then do not fear, Explore Rowing external-linkis for you. The scheme aims to introduce newcomers to rowing and give a new leash of life to those who have returned to rowing. Alongside the more traditional touringexternal-link and competitive events, clubs encourage recreational rowing to keep us exploring our rivers, lakes and canals!


competitive rowing

To take your rowing the next level, find a local clubexternal-link to join. There are opportunities for you to compete at club level, regionally, nationally and internationally. Competitions cover all types of rowingexternal-link including Regetta, head races, coastal, indoor and many more. Use the British Rowing calendarexternal-link of events to find out what is going on in your region. You can also get involved in challenges, fund-raisers and ocean crossings, so whatever your rowing ability level you can unleash your competitive side!

Masters Rowing

Maters rowing

From recreational rowing to the annual World Masters Regretta, the aim of Mastersexternal-link rowing is to encourage anyone from absolute beginners to ex-professionals to keep fit and keep rowing. Masters rowing can be a hughly competitive discipline that anyone between the ages of 27 and 80 is eligible to participate in. In addition to focusing on health and fitness, it emphasises the social aspect of the sport with many clubs offering social events along side competitions.


Tom Aggar

Many clubs around the country offer courses and taster sessions specifically designed for people with a physical, sensory or learning disability. British Rowing's 'Rowability'external-link, scheme covers a range of programmes from learning to row, competitive rowing and a performance pathway if you aspire to compete in Pararowing, at the very top level of the sport! Rowing boats and equipment can be easily 'adapted' to the user which is why this branch of the sport is sometimes called 'adaptive rowing'.

Coaching and Volunteering

rowing coach

If you don't fancy competing or training but you still want to be involved in rowing, then coaching could be a great alternative. Rowing clubs are always looking for people to coach, officiate or help out on club events. British Rowing's Rowing Leader Trainingexternal-link is designed to help 16-18 year olds safely deliver rowing lessons and the Learn to Row Instructorexternal-link scheme helps turn competent adult rowers into coaches.

Visit British Rowingexternal-link find out about event or club volunteering opportunities across the country. JoinInUKexternal-link can also help you find a club that needs some help. You might also like to try Volunteer Scotland,external-linkAthletics NI,external-link or Welsh Athletics.external-link

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into athletics near you.

2. Visit British Rowingexternal-link or find local athletics opportunities in Ireland,external-linkScotlandexternal-link and Wales.external-link

3. Share your storyexternal-link and inspire others.

Are you inspired to try rowing? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the sport by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,external-link visiting us on Facebookexternal-link or email us on

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.