By: Jace Hieda
Row House Foothill Ranch, Lead Coach
A 4AM alarm clock? You gotta be kidding me! When I first stepped foot into Row House, I had never even sat on a rowing machine. While I knew I was trying a workout that was low-impact, full-body, and effort-based, I had absolutely, positively, no clue in the world that I was being introduced to a brand that would change my life! Or, at least - one that would have me gladly set a 4AM alarm!
The workout was effective and efficient, so I joined as a member. Rowing is about moving together; in fact, big block letters above the doors at every Row House studio across the nation read “PULL. TOGETHER.” We move as one, but each member of the crew rows at their own intensity, giving what they can to the boat. That aspect kept me pushing forward, celebrating milestone after milestone of cumulative meters rowed at Row House.
In early 2020, I was working my way towards hitting a milestone of 4 million meters. The milestone was personal; the number seemed unreachable, but it happened to be the distance between my Row House studio and my hometown of Hawaii, so I had my gym bag printed with the words “ROWING TO HAWAII” on it. Well, we know what happened in 2020: Row House studios, along with the world, closed their doors and we stayed safely at home for a few days, which turned into a few weeks, then became months.
We also know what happened next; we stepped out back into the world but made modifications to how we moved through everyday life in hopes that these were temporary. I was fortunate to have a job that allowed me to work from home, so when Row House reopened its doors (well technically, we held classes outside!), it was the first time I had seen anyone outside of my “pod” in months, and boy was I happy to reconnect with this community again.
I rowed my 4 millionth meter with cheers and celebrations from my crew - many who were braving “the new normal” just to regain that human connection, to be with others again, and to be inspired and motivated by the Row House community. Seeing that this workout delivered not just physical benefits but offered mindfulness and a community, I knew that I wanted to share this with more people. I wanted others to know that it was okay to push yourself harder to the point of exhaustion, that it was okay to have good days and not-so-good days, and that we build the community by which we need to be supported.
But to share this workout and the Row House brand with others meant becoming a Row Coach. A fitness professional! I had never, in my wildest dreams, imagined myself pursuing group fitness instruction. But with a solid foundation of how to row and hugely talented examples of how to motivate and inspire with my own Row Coaches, I took the leap and auditioned. I was told that “the very best leaders are those who lead without even being given the platform to lead from.” And to clear any doubt I had in my abilities, I was reminded further that, “you’re already a leader, just imagine what you’ll be able to do once Row House gives you the platform – and the mic!”
Fast-forward to today, where I’ve not only been a coach for over 2 years, but am now serving as the Lead Coach in my studio, helping other coaches in their journeys and helping to grow our boat even further. Across countless reasons and experiences,, there are three moments that stand out to me as in-my-face reminders of why I coach.
We work hard in class, and rowing workouts are designed to push and build your cardiovascular strength and endurance. Accordingly, there’s a moment in class when the music fades away, and all you hear is heavy, but controlled, breathing. It’s music to a coach’s ears to hear the room breathing together in recovery.
Row House classes incorporate low-impact floorwork movements off of the rower that complement and supplement the full-body rowing motion, and this is where some of the biggest growth victories can be found. The joy of doing a full push up from the toes for the first time, to holding a plank longer than ever before, to using heavier weights than you thought you could - those victories are etched into your memory as a coach.
Every six months, Row House studios host a half marathon row. It’s no easy feat to row 21,097 meters in one sitting, but time and time again, our members show up as a community and make the impossible a reality for countless members of the crew. Seeing the joys of accomplishment - especially on faces that once said “nope, I could never do that,” is the fuel we use as coaches to motivate and inspire others.
So yes - my alarm is set for 4AM on some days of the week, earlier than I’d ever think I’d wake up. But, knowing that I get to lead a crew that will go further together, knowing that I will support the crew by enduring the workout with them, and that no matter how big or small the boat may be, someone in that boat is having a personal win - that’s why I coach.