Rowing an eight shell

Learn to Row Classes

You’re interested in rowing. Great choice! We offer multiple Learn to Row (LTR) classes throughout the year for beginners or people looking for a rowing “refresher” course. We hope that you’ll join a class and try the sport.

  • Multi-week classes make rowing easy to learn
  • Learn with other beginners in a no-pressure, judgement-free environment
  • Engaging activity that works the whole body and mind
  • Register with friends or family for a fun,  shared experience

Our LTR classes are designed for beginners who have no prior rowing knowledge or training. Experienced rowing instructors help you through the mental and physical training you need to be proficient on the water. Learn to Row classes meet once per week, starting with the basics or rowing and gradually introducing new techniques, skills, and verbal commands. By the end of the class, each person will feel comfortable in a boat and will have gained the muscle memory and knowledge to continue with the sport, all while having fun along the way!

**Note: club membership is NOT required to participate in a Learn to Row class


2019 Classes

Learn to Row class information will be available this spring. Check back soon!

What to Expect as a First Time Rower

You won’t start in a boat.
We’ll actually start by rowing on ergometers (rowing machines) to understand the fundamentals of the rowing stroke. Don’t worry, you’ll be in a boat soon enough.

It will probably feel awkward.
The body movements used in the rowing stroke don’t come naturally, so like any new coordinated motion, you’ll have to build up your muscle memory. The quickest method for learning is to stretch well and listen to the instructors!

You’ll expand your vocabulary.
Port – starboard – waynuff – cox’n – gunnel. Yes, those are all terms that you will hear while learning to row, plus several more! Rowing uses unique terminology to describe parts of the boat and commands while on the water.

You’ll probably sweat, but this is not an exercise class.
The goal of the class is to teach you to row, not burn calories, so we won’t push everyone to their physical limits. However, rowing will work various parts of your body so it’s a good thing to feel your muscles working!

Don’t worry if it’s not as easy as you thought.
The LTR programs are 10 weeks for a good reason – it takes time and practice to learn rowing! Please don’t give up, even if you’re frustrated after the first week or two. The only way to improve your rowing technique is through practice. By the end of the class you’ll be rowing with confidence!

Meet The Coaches

Cameron coaching portraitCameron has been rowing and coaching with BCRC for four years. He graduated from Northwestern University, where he rowed four years and served as team captain. Cameron is excited to be teaching one of the Learn to Row classes. When he’s not rowing, he enjoys hiking and skiing with his wife and developing new products at work.

Jay coaching portraitJay has been rowing, coaching and coxing with BCRC for six years. He first discovered the sport at California State University at Long Beach, where he rowed for two years on the men’s lightweight team. He decided to get back into rowing in 2012 to row recreationally and compete in local state regattas. Outside of rowing, Jay has two grown children and three grandchildren, works in IT and enjoys repeating his favorite quote: “what can I do to help my teammates win the race?”


Comfortable exercise clothes, socks and a water bottle are a must. If the weather is nice, we also recommend a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If the weather is windy or colder, it helps to have an extra layer of clothing like a wind-breaker or light long-sleeve jacket. Optional items would include a change of clothes (sometimes you can get splashed with water) and extra shoes or flip-flops to keep in the boat while rowing. Electronics should be left in your car or in our secure locker rooms.

No, we do not require membership to take a LTR class. However, if at any point during the class or after the class you wish to utilize other BCRC programs, membership would be required (for instance, if you want to start rowing outside of the class during our group rowing sessions). Once the class is completed you’ll be a proficient rower, so of course we’d love for you to continue your involvement by joining!

With rowing, there is no perfect place to start. Whether you consider yourself physically fit or not, we encourage you to try a LTR class to learn the sport and see how you like it. Rowing will challenge you both mentally and physically, but you can scale your own physical effort according to your own limits. Be aware though – rowing is rewarding and can be highly addictive.

Our boats are filled on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you know you want to participate in a LTR class, we recommend signing up without too much delay. If a class is already filled, we will keep a wait list in case a boat seat opens up. If we have enough interest, we may add additional boats to the class to accommodate everyone that wants to learn.

All LTR classes are held at our boathouse on Middle Ground island in Bay City (a map is available on our Contact page). LTR classes involve both indoor and outdoor training. We row on the Saginaw River, and we might travel a few miles north or south on the river while rowing. Any on-land or indoor practice will happen in, or close by, our boathouse.

There is a parking lot directly in front of the boathouse. In the event the parking lot is full, feel free to park at the Boys and Girls Club across the street.

Our boathouse has both a men’s and women’s locker room, and both have individual lockers that are available for temporary use at no charge. However, our boathouse is always locked while we are on the water, so many of our members leave their belonging on the seats in the locker rooms without any worry. If you’d like the use of a locker, make sure you ask when coming to your first class. You can also bring your own lock to use.

We understand you may have to miss one or two classes, and that’s fine. It will be your responsibility to let your LTR instructor know as early as possible and help fill the boat seat. We don’t recommend missing more that 1-2 classes, as this could start to set you back with learning.

Canceling a class is highly unlikely. We have the ability to practice both indoors and outdoors, so even if weather doesn’t allow for rowing on the river, your class will likely still practice indoors at the boathouse on rowing machines. If a class must be canceled, your LTR instructor will send an email (or call) as early as possible to let everyone know.

Any student under the age of 16 must pass a swim test before participating. Adults should also be able to swim, but will only need to provide verbal confirmation. All of our boats are equipped with floatation devices for rowers in the event of a capsize or a rower exiting the boat.

Still Have Questions?

Submit a question about our Learn to Row program through the email form on the Contact page.

©2019 Bay City Rowing Club
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