Fat Ergos

@FatErgos is a joke. It has to be a joke. No one can actually like erging that much. Erging sucks. Everyone hates erging. There’s no way this is real.

Run by the Wisco Men’s team, the Fat Ergos Instagram account uses memes that are generally pretty hood and generally unrelated to erging to convey their love of ergos. After a couple of conversations with the guys about the account I realized that even though it’s a joke, it’s kind of…not a joke?

@FatErgos is the YOLO of 2016. You start kidding about how pumped you are to rip the fat ergo you’re actually dreading tomorrow morning in an attempt to make fun of the account and eventually…you are actually starting to get amped about erging…

The rowing world hates erging because it’s hard as sh*it. It is obviously physical, but erging is one hundred percent mental and that’s why it sucks so much. A good erger is incredibly powerful and fit, but they’re also crazy.

In order to sit on an erg for more than an hour you have to go out of your mind. Doing long steady state pieces means staring at meters on a screen slowly ticking away and seconds accumulating one by one for stroke after stroke. It’s not a necessarily a test of how strong a rower is, it’s a balance of fitness and insanity. How long can you take low, sustained pain? How long can you stand the boredom? One has to surrender themselves to their own rhythm of catch and send, letting the erg take over their world.

Doing pieces on the erg is different. Instead of fighting thoughts like “what’s for breakfast,” you have to fight thoughts like “holy sh*t. I’m going to f*cking die.” You have to go to battle with the demons that set your legs on fire and tell you you’re not strong enough to finish.

When I started rowing, erging faced me with an existential crisis. Why would I sit in one place, going nowhere, doing the same motion for hours while I let a computer monitor measure my success? I could be rowing, running, biking, swimming, anything but this g*ddamn rowing treadmill. I could be actually moving; going somewhere, making progress instead of pulling a handle to move a wheel. To borrow another men’s team phrase, it seemed like a boondoggle. Erging felt foreign and foolish and it hurt really, really badly.

Then I learned how to lose my mind.

It’s relaxing actually. Satisfying even. To sit down, set your monitor pull the chain and forget everything except the erg. Steady state becomes like meditation. Pieces become a welcome challenge. The feeling at the end of a piece when you’re killing yourself; pouring everything you have out of your legs to get one more .01 of a split hurts so good. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or how you accomplish it with your body (to an extent). More watts generated means faster times. Plain and simple.

It’s not like rowing. In the boat you could be pulling three times harder than an opposing crew, but if they are rowing with better rhythm and technique than your crew you’re going to lose. When you row you have to worry about your catches, timing, handle heights, annoying coxswains, bow seat’s rush, wind, thunderstorms, obnoxious people waterskiing along your course, safety launches and steering.

When you erg you don’t need anything except you and the erg. You don’t even need water. You can with friends or alone like the antisocial weirdo you are. You can erg while listening to music instead of a coxswain. You can erg anywhere: the boathouse, your basement, in the bedroom, in a dank hallway at your local YMCA, in the middle of a desert, in hell, the erging possibilities are f*cking endless.

The erg is always the same. It always reads the same numbers. If you’re pulling harder than the person next to you, you’re going to beat them. If you stop pulling your goal splits and start being a little b*tch, it’s going to let you know. It’s constant, it’s mindless, it’s punishing, it’s satisfying.

Erging is easy. Rowing is hard. Rowing on water means adapting to a whole slew of different variables. It means working with four or eight other people. It means fighting Wisconsin’s shitty spring weather, getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to row on the “best water,” ripping quarter-sized pieces of skin off of your hands to form calluses, killing yourself during pieces and then having to row double the amount because your coach wanted to run them in one direction.

Plus rowing hurts just as badly as erging does. If you don’t like ergos because they’re harder than pieces on the water, you should probably ask your coach how you can improve your technique and/or pull harder.

So next time you’re blown off the water and are saddled with a mind-numbingly long steady state erg workout, turn off your brain and go eat some meters for breakfast. If they give you a seemingly impossible, vomit-inducing AT workout remember that rowing is hard and erging is easy. Channel your inner @fatergos, Get excited and go rip that #fat #ergo.



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