1) It puts variety in my workout.
2) During my weight training lifetime, I have caused an imbalance (much like many others). We were told to bench, but we never did anything to the opposite muscles...no pulls or back exercises...for years. At any rate, I figure a few extra reps of a pulling exercise may eventually balance out the inflexibility in my shoulders and back.
3) Lastly, I kind of feel sorry for the rowing machine. I don't think I have ever seen anyone else use it in years while I have been a member of the fitness club. I figure that I give some positive energy to the universe by visiting with the awkward wallflower at the dance.
I've probably been on the rowing machine nearly 40 times since winter. That means I've raced about 40 times. That's right, I've raced. I choose the race setting so I have a feeling of competition. For some reason, I even often visualize myself racing against the Winklevoss brothers from The Social Network. (Kind of strange, but cut me some slack. I think it's probably because they are the only people I know of, or have seen, that have rowed competitively). Yeah, I could just go for 500 or 1000 meters and glide my way across the water, but I would rather put a beat down on the Winklevoss family; like I've said, I would rather compete. I hate to brag, but I've never lost. Some races have been close, but I crank up my effort, sometimes even grunt a lot, and I secure the victory. Time after time I get to see the digital screen display two spread out squares for eyes accompanied by a slightly curved stair-stepped line of squares signifying a smile: a victory smile. My gold medal!
This past week, I was racing the twins in a 500 meter head-to-head and things were going great. I actually felt better than normal as I pulled the cable repeatedly to engage my oars (...or oar...I think maybe I would only have one if I was really rowing in a crew team). I was being sure to squeeze my shoulders and back muscles to engage that balancing effect I was talking about earlier. I was about 120 meters in, and things were going great! Then, as I looked into the mirror, I noticed my shoulder muscles and how they are a little more toned than they used to be. In fact, my neck muscles were getting a pretty pump as well...and my biceps and triceps. It is kind of embarrassing to admit it, but I was thinking, "man, this exercise thing must be working okay. I've got some definition here that wasn't there a few months ago. I'm getting a little more lean...at least in my rowing muscle areas." I was pretty into myself. I looked at the display screen and I was already over halfway done. In fact, there was only about 200 meters left. And then I realized it...I was losing to the Winklevoss brothers! 200 meters left and they were in the lead...by two digitally stacked squares (that is a lot in digital rowing display lingo). So I started to (what I like to call) "Bust It." I began rowing faster than I ever had and faster than what I thought was possible. Within about 75 meters, I made up one square.
"Awesome," I thought, "I can do this!"
With 125 meters left, surely I could make up the other square. But something unexpected happened: the Winklevoss brothers started to speed up, too.
...This is a machine that is just supposed to keep a pace and try to make you work hard. This couldn't be happening. I've never lost.
50 meters left. I pushed myself harder. I refused to lose to these punks. Still one square behind.
30 meters left. I was what appeared to be a half of a square behind. I was catching them.
20 meters. Almost there.
Two separate digital squares with a straight line under them appeared on the screen.
...to those two clowns!
I sat clutching my fake, cabled oar in disbelief. I didn't even want to look in the mirror in front of me.
After a few moments, I slowly glided forward and unbuckled my feet from the stirrups. Still in disgust, I pressed the off button on the display. I didn't want to see it anymore. What the heck happened?
Well, after some reflection, I KNOW exactly what happened:
That time I spent admiring the RESULTS of all my progress, I took my mind off the PROCESS.
It was a great reminder for me.
I think there are a lot of athletes and coaches out there that have worked hard. They work hard, see success, and feel good about it. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about things, but here is the danger: if you forget to focus on the process of improving, you will get passed by those who continue to work. Nothing is set in stone. We aren't successful because we always have been in the past. There are no guarantees.
We all know that MS kid who was awesome. No one could defend him, he grabbed every rebound, he could finish at the basket, etc. Then he got to HS and slowly disappeared. Most likely, he fell in love with his results and lost his focus on the process.