I am a certified rowing instructor through UCanRow2/Concept2 and since my certification in 2012, along with countless hours of coaching athletes in my CrossFit St. Louis hybrid row class, I like to brag that I can "straighten out anyone's rowing in 30 min or less". I would say 15 minutes, but I like to give them a little practice time. (insert winking emoji here). I thought it would be fun to do some "before and afters" of athletes who commit to improving their technique and call it "Row Tech. U."
I recently had a client who had come to me after purchasing a donation I made to a "Girls on the Run" auction of a one hour rowing technique session. With the popularity of the rower in many on trend fitness classes (and the rampant bad rowing technique that I have witnessed in said classes), I hoped that someone would appreciate some technique tips to help them power through the rowing portions of whatever fitness classes they took. Luckily, my new client enjoyed Orange Theory classes, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to help her improve her rowing technique so she could be more efficient and produce more power in her workouts. Check out the before and after videos below and see what a difference 30 minutes with a certified instructor can make.
This nice little triplet is sure to leave you hurting next time you want to sit up in bed or have to cough! Equipment needed: Kettlebell, abmat or situp mat, rower
ABS-olutely Swinging and Rowing
I have been wanting to write this post for some time now, ever since I began this journey in the search for better, safer personal care products. As I continue to learn more about how unregulated the beauty industry is and how our health might be suffering, I want to educate as many people as I can about their choices, and the changes they can make that may have a huge impact on their future health.
My goal for this post is to do a "review of the literature" so to speak, and create a list of some of my favorite resources here. These are articles, podcasts, websites, books and videos that I share often and find compelling. It will be nice to have all of these in one place. There is a lot of meat on this bone so take your time taking it all in.
Safer Skincare for Everyone
As many of you know, I started working for a company called Beautycounter who's mission it is to "get safer skincare into the hands of everyone". Through their education and advocacy efforts, I realized I had been played for a fool by the beauty industry. Here I was, a trainer and nutrition enthusiast encouraging people to live healthier lives through good movement, nutrition, stress management and better sleep habits. Meanwhile I was using over 15 personal care products on my body (hey, I'm from Texas) before I even left the house and who knows how many hundreds of untested ingredients were having a toxicfest on all my body parts. In my effort to address the "pillars of health" that make the most positive impact on healthier living, I had erroneously overlooked a major pillar of good health which I'll call the "Decreasing Toxic Load" pillar.
What does this mean?
This "Detox Pillar" includes all the chemicals we are exposed to on the day to day. This could be the pesticides in our food or the pollutants in our air. Some toxins are so ubiquitous, we simply can't escape them. But as I am learning more about how rife with toxins our every day products are and how under regulated the personal care product industry is, I am realizing that we don't have to be a slave to our toxic products any longer. Even if our congressional leaders don't have the compassion or the cojones to do something about this very bipartisan, human health issue, we can empower ourselves with knowledge, ask questions, and demand better of the products we use on our skin, which is our biggest organ.
(picture courtesy of an article from MisscarriagePrevention.com which you should also check out!)
In looking to optimize health, we simply can't overlook the personal care products that we use Every. Single. Day. Stop for a second and start counting all the products you use in a day...specifically, when you take a shower, get out of the shower, do your hair, apply your makeup and brush your teeth. Heck, while we are counting, consider what your spouse and children use as well.
We are talking soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, deodorant, perfume, the makeup you use (lots of items here), sunscreen, hair spray or other hair products, nail polish, and toothpaste to name a few. All of these have the potential for massive chemical interaction between products and all of this is absorbed by our skin. It's overwhelming to consider what is going on here, but brace yourself and get in the know. Your health just may depend on it.
Armed with information, people make better choices
Websites you should know
THE EWG SKIN DEEP DATABASE
So where does one start in their search for safer products? I would highly suggest you visit ewg.org and look at their Skin Deep Database which contains useful information on popular, common brands. You can search your item, and if it is listed, it will pop up with a description of each ingredient listed, what it does, and it's potential for harm to your health based on a ranking system. At that point, you can determine if this is a product you want to continue using based on the safety of its ingredients. If your product is NOT listed, you can create your own report by typing in the ingredients of your product and then based on those ingredients, you will get a better idea of its safety. They also have lists of EWG verified products that are safer alternatives in the event you want to switch something out.
CAMPAIGN FOR SAFE COSMETICS
"The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics coalition, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly the Breast Cancer Fund), works to protect the health of consumers, workers and the environment through public education and engagement, corporate accountability and sustainability campaigns and legislative advocacy designed to eliminate dangerous chemicals linked to adverse health impacts from cosmetics and personal care products."
Beautycounter has also created safer, high performing products as their solution to the problem. All ingredients are rigorously screened and tested for safety on human health, and performance wise, I'd put them up against many of the "premium" brands you'd find at the department store. Check out some of their offerings HERE. Also, be sure to read about Beautycounter's dedication to education and advocacy which are integral to their safer skincare for everyone mission.
a podcast FOr your listening pleasure
One of my favorite podcasts is called The Living Experiment with Dallas Hartwig and Pilar Gerasimo. There is one episode in particular that I thought was fabulous. It is Episode no. 47 called Non Toxic Bodycare. In this episode, they talk about how the ingredients in your personal care products can negatively impact your health and which ingredients you should be wary of. You can listen to this podcast straight from your computer or from your favorite podcast platform on your phone. I like the app Stitcher because I can save my favorite podcasts to my "favorites" page so it's very easy for me to find the ones I listen to each week. This podcast is a great place to start when learning about why safer personal care products matter. On this particular show, you can see their "Resources" page and they have a remarkable list of articles and books listed. Some I will repost on this blog as well. And listen to their other podcasts as well. They both are very thoughtful when they speak and their voices are nice to listen to. That's important because some podcasters sound annoying and I can't listen to them. Plug in and go on a nice walk. You'll be surprised how fast the time goes as you get some sunshine, exercise and education all at the same time!
must read articles
The topic of clean beauty is becoming more relevant and it shows in the number of articles and blog posts that are being put out every day. The awareness of the problem is growing. If you need some bathroom reading, take a look at these amazing articles which are all compelling reads.
"Beauty Beware" by Courtney Helgoe of Experience Life Magazine (Dec. 2009)
This is one of the best articles I've read and Helgoe does an amazing job of methodically going through the different ingredients that are commonly used in our beauty products but have potential health risks that many are unaware of.
"What Poisons are in Your Body" - a New York Times Opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof
This article has lots of great information on toxic chemicals in our products AND a quiz!
"How Legislation Potentially Affects Harmful Chemicals in Your Beauty Products" -
by Amy Westervelt, Teen Vogue, (Nov 2017)
This is just a great overview of the limitations of supervision in the beauty industry and how little regulation there actually is.
"Cosmetics, Regulations, and the Public Health Understanding the Safety of Medical and Other Products" by Robert M. Califf MD, JAMA Internal Medicine (Aug 2017)
This is a great editorial by Dr. Califf, who served as F.D.A. chief under President Obama. A must read!
"For Cosmetics, Let the Buyer Beware" - Jane Brody, The New York Times (Aug, 2017)
"Study Underscores Need for Beauty Products Regulation. FDA under-regulates cosmetic, personal care products" - Dr. Nina Radcliff, The Washington Times (July 2017)
Another article on the lack of regulation in the industry and what you can do about it.
"How a Beauty Brand Raised an Army of 30,000 Political Activists" by Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company (March 2018) Last but not least, this powerful article outlines the advocacy effort by companies like Beautycounter who advocate for safer, more health protective laws for everyone.
One of my favorite books on this topic is called Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan. You can find it on Amazon HERE.
"Not Just a Pretty Face delves deeply into the dark side of the beauty industry, and looks to hopeful solutions for a healthier future. This scathing investigation peels away less-than-lovely layers to expose an industry in dire need of an extreme makeover."
Videos for your viewing pleasure
We All Deserve Better - Beautycounter
The Ugly Truth About the Beauty Industry - The Nantucket Project with Gregg Renfrew
The Ugly Truth about the Cosmetics Industry - Fox News
The Today Show - Maria Shriver interviews Gregg Renfrew
BE AN ADVOCATE
Let your congressional leaders know you want change
If you would like to contact your legislators, you can text "betterbeauty" (all one word) to 52886. A prompt will show up asking for your name and email. Fill that out and it will create a "letter" from you to the congressional leaders in your state asking them to support the Personal Care Product Safety Act. Your action can make a big difference in the way your congressperson or senator may vote as they do pay attention to what their constituents' concerns are. Make a stand today!!
Want to know more about The Personal Care Product Safety Act? Below is an excerpt from the US Senate website that outlines what this bill might look like. It is definitely a starting place.
This bill would require the FDA to evaluate a minimum of five ingredients per year to determine their safety and appropriate use. The review process set forth in the bill would provide companies with clear guidance about whether ingredients should continue to be used and if so, what the concentration levels should be and whether consumer warnings are needed. For example, a chemical may be deemed inappropriate for use in children's products, or appropriate for professional application only.
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
I hope this helps in giving you a deeper understanding of the issue we all face with our personal care products. You are not powerless as you do have choices. Become informed not only so you can choose better, but so you can help the ones you love. This is one pillar of health that you don't want to overlook.
One of the things I love about being a Beautycounter consultant is that I get the opportunity to show women how to pull off an easy, polished look in about 5 minutes. Our Flawless in Five bundle has everything you need, and once you learn the "process", you will become a pro in no time.
"I can't do makeup!" More often than not, I hear women tell me they "just don't know how to do makeup". Maybe they were never taught or maybe they had no interest in learning and then felt like they missed their window of opportunity. I'm here to tell you that you are never too old to learn a few new tricks!
This grouping of 6 safer, high performing products is all you need for an unfussy, natural look that enhances your own beauty without looking "too made up". It is a great starting point for everyone. Then depending on the look you are trying to achieve, and your comfort level, you can take it a step further with eye makeup, bronzer or highlighter, and lipstick. But it all starts with this basic foundation. The best part is, you can trust that the ingredients used in these products are some of the highest quality on the market in terms of safety and efficacy. And don't think you have to give up performance because you are using safer products. I am a super picky makeup aficionado and I'd put these up against any of the premium brands you'd find in the department store beauty section but without the hormone disruptors and other icky chemicals you find in some of the other brands.
What do i need to do
If you are working with a consultant, she will help you choose the colors that will complement your skin the best. The first thing you need to do is get matched for a foundation. The place to test is the side of your face, just above your jaw. Put a small amount of tint skin foundation on your skin and blend in. It should blend in seamlessly with your skin. Once you know your foundation color, you can go to the Beautycounter website and personalize your Flawless in Five. You can do that HERE. The website (or your consultant) will walk you through each product and suggest a color for you or you can choose your own.
Once you get your products, it's time to PRACTICE!!! Makeup should be fun and once you get in a routine and you get the hang of it, you will learn that it really only takes about 5 minutes to get the soft look you are looking for.
Is this all i need?
The Flawless in Five is a starting point but you can add to it as you see fit. Here is my basic routine and I call it a "Flawless in Five with Add-ons". (My add on's are mattifying powder, bronzer, eyeshadow and lipstick.)
Step by Step
1. On a clean face, start with your tint skin foundation. Spread it all over your face and then use a Beauty Blender or some kind of blending sponge to blend in your foundation. These sponges are best used damp and you should press in, not pull off.
2. Next, use your concealer. Click until you see the product come to the tip and using the brush end, draw a line from your inner eye down the side of your nose, about mid nose. Draw a line immediately under your eye, and lines extending out from that line. Also put a bit of concealer on your lid. This will serve as a good eye shadow base if you choose to use that next. Crudely blend in with your ring fingers, getting it as close to the lower lash line as possible. Finish blending with blending sponge.
3. Once foundation and concealer is set, dust a bit of translucent mattifying powder. This will set your makeup and keep it lasting all day. Now that your foundation is set, you are ready for color.
4. I like to use a bit of bronzer as a first step on the cheeks. This isn't part of the flawless in five, but it can make a big impact so I do it. I need all the impact I can get. Press a bronzer brush into the bronzer and then press on cheek bone. Extend this color out toward your temples. You can also add bronzer to the very top of your forehead by your hairline and slightly along your jawline. *see attached you tube video for exactly where I like to put it
5. It's now blush time. Gently press your blush brush into your blush and tap off excess. Look in the mirror and smile! While smiling, apply blush by pressing the blush brush onto the apples of your cheeks. This puts it in the right spot, AND you get to smile at yourself! Gently blend outward.
the eyes have it
6. Now it's time to address the eyes. You will use your eyebrow pencil to fill in the brows. As I've said before, there is a big difference between NOT filling in your brows, doing it correctly, and adding in too much brow. We want nice brows to frame our face but we don't want to look like Frida Khalo. Follow your natural brow line and fill in with small quick strokes where you are sparce. You want to look natural, not creepy.
7. Once you've filled in your brows, you have the option of stopping here or going to door number two which is eyeshadow. I like playing with color so I always opt for the eyeshadow. Once again, it's up to your comfort level, but if it's technique that's holding you back, don't be afraid. There are some easy things you can do to create a lovely look on your eyes. I start with a soft neutral all over my eye. Something soft like an eggshell. I love using the Ultimate Nudes palette because all the colors work well on a variety of skin types. You can stop there and you will have a nice finished look. If you would like to create some depth in your eye, put a bit of soft brown on a brush and dab the outer corner of your eye and sweep up into your crease. This will give you a nice soft look with depth. You can finish with an eyeliner in your upper lash line. Either use your favorite eye liner, or you can dip a liner brush in a bit of water and then in a dark color and use that across the lash line. This creates the illusion of a thicker lash line and who doesn't want that! Finish with a few strokes of volumizing or lengthening mascara. I like the volumizing.
(For a video on eyes only, check THIS out.)
8. Finish with your favorite lipstick and/or gloss. The flawless in five comes with a gloss, but I like to use a color intense lipstick first and then finish with a gloss. Do what you like and what makes you feel good!! There are no right or wrong answers.
When you are done, you can evaluate if you need more blush (or you have too much and need to soften it up). These are the steps and after you get the hang of it, your friends are going to start asking YOU to do their makeup!!
The shape of the force curve can be changed by varying the relative timing and emphasis of the legs, the back and the arms during the drive phase. For example, if your transition from legs, to back swing to the arms in the finish is not smooth, you may see multiple peaks in your curve. It may look something like this:
- When initiating your drive, apply equal pressure to the foot plate and to the handle to achieve a sense of weightlessness or suspension over your seat. Drive hard with the feet and exert pressure on the handle. This connection between seat and hands will give you a powerful start to your stroke. You always want the seat to move simultaneously with the handle.
- Use your hips effectively in your stroke. Shoot for the back angle to swing from 11-1 o’clock. Continue the power application with the arms through the finish.
- Strive for length in the hip joint at the catch, but not by thoracic flexion (turtlebacking). You don’t want to collapse at the thoracic or lumbar spine, rather keep a good posture with a flat back. Think deadlift posture.
Watt do you mean by power?The average power applied during each stroke can be displayed in Watts. (Use the “change units” button on your display to get to watts.) In general, the more power applied, the faster your pace. However, this relationship between power and pace is non linear. There is no direct relationship between power and pace because of the variations in efficiency between strokes with different force profiles. You may have two force profiles with the same average power (watts), but the inefficient (spiky) force profile will produce a slower pace than an efficient (smooth) one. Dialing in that technique and working on that smooth force curve will pay dividends by making you a more efficient rower.
Next time you get on the rower, whether during warm up or in class, change the display to the force curve and see what your stroke looks like. What can you do to smooth it out? How does it change depending on the force you apply? Play around with this and watch your stroke improve.
May the Force be with YOU!
At the finish of the stroke, position your back angle at about 20 degrees, or in the 11:00 position on a clock. Handle comes to your sternum in a straight line from where it came out of the flywheel. For you ladies, that is about the bottom of your sports bra. Guys, we’re talking just at or below your pecs. Arms are comfortably down at your sides and slightly out, but not chicken winged. Toes should be pressed firmly into the footplate at the finish, not straining against the footstraps.
To fix excessive layback at the finish, practice rowing unstrapped. Check out this article from
Below are some proper finish positions from people in the rowing class.
Ronna and Carol showing good form at the finish. Notice their toes pressing in.
Jim finishes strong.
Think about a deadlift for a second. At the bottom, shoulders are in front of the bar and back angle is set. As you bring the bar up your shins, you maintain that back angle until the knees, and then you use your hips to open up and finish the pull. On the way down, you close (flex) your hips until the bar hits your knees, then you lower with the legs. The same goes with the rowing stroke. At the catch, your back angle is in a closed position with shoulders in front of hips. As you draw back with the handle, you maintain a somewhat closed back angle, pushing hard with the legs, until the handle crosses the knee at which time you swing your hips open and finish the stroke with your arms. As you recover back toward the flywheel, you close your hips and after the handle crosses the knee, you bend your knees and glide into the catch.
If you don’t close those hips, you’ll never get the power you need for the next stroke. And that would be dumb. Your hips don’t lie and neither does the monitor, so harness that hip power by setting your back angle. You’ll be rewarded with effortless meters.
Thanks for stopping by! Info here will help guide you on the path to better health. I'll share my passion about health, fitness, nutrition, and finding safer personal care products as well as cooking, gardening, and raising chickens. You want it, I got it. ~ Leeny