Work Out with Monika: A marriage of mat work and rowing

Pilates is an incredible core workout, but to be frank, I’ve always shied away from it because of the lack of cardio. Marlene Kadin, owner of Núcleo Fitness, has solved this problem by marrying the benefits of Pilates with the cardio of rowing. Núcleo is Toronto’s first Pilates and rowing studio. Today Kadin is leading me through her Rowing and Pilates Merged (R.P.M.) class. The one-hour class consists of five- to seven-minute intervals on water rower machines and Pilates on the mats to mimic high intensity interval training (HIIT).

The goods 
The water rower machines mimic the resistance of a boat gliding across the water, while providing a soothing wave-like sound. Just like rowing on water, resistance increases as your speed and intensity increases. You choose your pace and enjoy the power of water without getting wet.

Getting started
It’s a cosy and bright second floor studio that fits eight. We start by standing at the end of the mat, roll down, bone by bone, bringing our arms to the floor and then walk out to a plank. We hold the plank for 30 seconds. We repeat this and then hold the plank for 60 seconds. 

Step by step
We start with an easy row for three minutes at 22 strokes per minute followed by another three minutes at 26 strokes. We then move to the mat for a six-minute upper body workout focusing on arms and shoulders using toning balls or exercise bands. Next up is the pressure paddle row on the water rower machine for seven minutes, increasing and decreasing the pace, followed by a six-minute ab series on the mat. Alternating between rowing and mat work continues for two more rounds, with quick switches in pace during the paddle portion, along with stretching on the rowing machine and working glutes and hamstrings on the mat.

The finish line
An easy row at 22 to 24 strokes per minute for 90 seconds followed by stretching the hamstrings, quads, triceps and shoulders on the mat.

Brains behind the operation
Kadin, one of seven instructors, is certified in Mat Pilates and is a certified Indo-Row instructor. She came up with the idea to merge pilates and rowing when she added water rowing to her cardio training in preparation to run a half marathon. The first time she sat on a water rower and learned the technique, she thought, “This is Pilates in motion.”

In review
The class is challenging yet restorative. Roughly 60 per cent of the rowing engages the legs, and the mat work really engages the core. The next day I felt the workout in my back, arms, legs and chest. I would love to go back and take an evening moonlit paddle class where they dim the lights and play great music.

R.P.M. at Núcleo Fitness, 862 Eglinton Ave. E., Suite 203, $30/class

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO