a rowing master

Rocket City Rowing Master's Program

The Rocket City Rowing Master’s program is open to adults in the North Alabama community. From new rowers to those who rowed in college, Rocket City Rowing offers opportunities for individuals to row alone, recreationally with a group, or as part of one of our competitive Master’s teams at regional, national and international regattas.

Both competitive and recreational rowing engages all major muscle groups including legs, core, back, and arms. In addition, rowing is a low-impact sport that can be pursued over the course of a lifetime. Our oldest rower is over 75 and rows five or more times a week!

Practice Schedule

The masters program has four scheduled practices per week with the time of some practices varying by the season as shown below. To maintain technical proficiency and some level of fitness for recreational rowing, members need to attend regularly (preferably twice per week).

Additional practices may be scheduled for crews preparing for regattas or special events by coordinating with a masters coach and/or the club head coach. Boat lineups are set by the coach before practice using responses received before practice through the GroupMe app available for iPhone and Android devices.

Monday* 6:45pm – 8:00pm
Wednesday 5:45pm – 7:30pm
Saturday 7:00am – 9:00am
Sunday 7:00am – 9:00am

* Monday Practice during Winter Conditioning and the summer is 5:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Master’s Program

  • Can I join the Masters program if I have never rowed before?

Yes! Most of our Masters never rowed before joining the club. The Masters program offers Learn to Row camps teaching the fundamentals of rowing. Further skills are refined at practice with on-the-water drills and exercise.

There are currently about 30 adult rowers in the program. Some of our Masters rowed in college, but most learned to row as adults. Many of our rowers are graduates of our Learn to Row camps.

  • When can I start?

If you are new to the sport, adults should participate in a Learn to Row camp. If you have experience rowing, you can probably start right away! Contact the Masters Director for information on attending practices or Learn to Row camps.

  • What should I wear for rowing? Do I have to wear spandex shorts?

Wear clothes that are comfortable for exercising and appropriate for the weather. We will go out in all conditions – hot, cold, rain, snow, etc. Check the weather frequently and come prepared for the conditions.

Clothing should be form-fitting and not baggy. Loose or baggy clothing can get caught on the oars and seats of the boats.

For bottoms: Shorts should be compression -think spandex. Long/loose shorts will get caught in the seat and cannot be worn in the boat. Many retail outlets offering activewear such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Academy Sports, and Target have compression shorts/tights. Online, you can find rowing shorts at JL Sports or Boathouse Sports.

On your feet: Wear athletic/running/tennis shoes. Practices will include running, erging, and stretching on land, which will require shoes. Once you are in the boat, there are shoes that are attached to the boat. You only need to  wear socks in the boat.

  • What else should I bring to practice?

A water bottle–the boathouse doesn’t have a drinking fountain. A rain jacket for rainy days, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses for hot days.

  • Are there bathroom or shower facilities at the boathouse?

There is a portable toilet on-site equipped with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It is regularly maintained by the vendor.

There are no shower or locker facilities at the boathouse. Bags and personal belongings can be locked in the boathouse during classes/practices or can be left in your car. Although you are expected to come to the boathouse in workout clothing, there is a small curtained area for changing clothes when needed.

  • Will practice be cancelled?

Practice is rarely, if ever, cancelled. The only conditions that prevent rowing are thunderstorms, high winds, and fog. On days that weather prevents rowing we will do a workout on land.

  • Can I arrive late/leave early from practice?

Practices will begin promptly at the scheduled times.

If you need to miss practice or expect to be late, please let your coach know in advance. Similarly, rowers needing to leave more than 15 minutes early should contact the coach via e-mail or phone at least 12 hours in advance to discuss options. It is very difficult for a rower to leave early as it requires an entire boat plus a coach to come in early. Please do not schedule other commitments that will require a rower to leave early.

  • I have a busy schedule and won’t be able to attend regularly. Can I still participate in the Masters program?

Rowing regularly is the best way to improve your fitness and achieve your personal goals (such as weight loss, improving your strength, or increasing your rowing skill level). However, we understand that adults have busy schedules and many commitments. Our program is flexible enough to handle your schedule. We ask that rowers contact the Masters Director via the GroupMe app before practice so boat seating can be planned.

  • I don’t have much upper body strength, can I still row?

Yes, you can. Rowing is a ‘push’ sport, and the power of rowing comes from the legs. Upper body strength is important, too, and rowing will help build your upper body.

  • Will rowing hurt my knees?

Rowing is a non-impact sport, and is generally easy on the joints. Also, there is no twisting or torqueing of the knee, so most people with knee injuries find that they can row. If you have problem knees, we recommend that you consult your doctor before starting.

  • Will rowing help me with weight loss? Will I get a good workout?

Rowing is an aerobic, total-body workout. At high levels of activity, rowing can burn as many or more calories than running without impact to the joints. Rowing, combined with a sensible eating plan, can help with weight loss and body toning. Your weight loss results will depend on the intensity and regularity of your workouts and on your eating plan.

Rowing is an excellent full body workout. However, for the first few sessions you will be learning a lot of terminology and technique, with lots of drills and stopping for rest. Well-conditioned athletes may not get much of a workout at first, but by the end you will be doing more continuous rowing without breaks and it should be a good workout. Because each rower is different, the pace of the practice varies greatly with each group.

  • Do the Masters compete in regattas?

Our Master rowers typically travel to two or three regattas in the fall and spring seasons in Oak Ridge, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, Tennessee. We also compete in different types of regattas in Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and other places on occasion to compete against other Master rowers.




George Wheeler – Master’s Head Coach
Glen Yates – (Adult Learn-to-Row, Recreational Rowing)