Bay City Rowing Club

Learn to Row Classes

You’re interested in rowing? You found the right place! The Bay City Rowing Club offers multiple Learn to Row (LTR) classes throughout the year for beginners or those looking for a rowing “refresher” course. We hope that you’ll join a class and try the sport.

  • Our multi-week classes make rowing easy to learn
  • Learn with other beginners in a no-pressure, judgement-free environment
  • Work toward fitness for your whole body and mind
  • Learn to row in team boats and/or in singles
  • Participate in a Mini-Regatta to show your family your newly learned skills
  • Invite friends and make new ones in a fun, shared experience of a lifetime

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 needed to be proficient on the water. Learn to Row classes meet once or twice per week, starting with the basics of rowing and gradually introducing new techniques, skills, and responses to the coxswain’s 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- having fun and a sense of accomplishment along the way!

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

Learning the stroke on the erg
Learning the stroke on the erg
Trying out the oars
Trying out the oars
First time in the boat
First time in the boat

May-June 2024 Learn to Row Classes

The Bay City Rowing Club is happy to be able to offer two May-June 2024 Learn to Row Classes (LTR)!  The May-June classes will meet either on Tuesdays or Thursdays throughout May and June (starting Tuesday April 30th and Thursday May 2nd). Classes start at 6:00 pm and last approximately 2 – 2.5 hours.  A fun Mini-Regatta will take place at the boathouse on Saturday June 22th!

Learn to Row classes are filled on a first-come-first-served basis through our on-line registration. Scroll down and select either the Tuesday or Thursday Class.  Click on the Select button under the Oar.  Occasionally we’ll have spots open from cancellations after classes have been filled and will accept new rowers that are on a class waitlist.  To be added to the waitlist for a sold out class, please fill out our Contact Form and mention waitlist in the message box

May-June 2024 Tuesday Learn to Row Class

May-June Tuesday Learn to Row 8-week class, starting April 30th. Meet Tuesdays (April 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28; June 4, 11, 18) classes start at 6 pm (2-2.5 hours).  Mini-Regatta will be held on Saturday morning June 22th.

May-June 2024 Thursday Learn to Row Class

May-June Thursday Learn to Row 8-week class, starting May 2nd. Meet Thursdays (May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; June 6, 13, 20) classes start at 6 pm (2-2.5 hours).  Mini-Regatta will be held on Saturday morning June 22th.

What to Expect as a First Time Rower

You start your learning on land.

We’ll actually start by rowing on ergometers (rowing machines) to understand the fundamentals of the rowing stroke. You’ll be in a boat soon enough but it is best to be prepared.

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 successful learning is to stretch well, practice and follow instructions!

You’ll expand your vocabulary.

“Port” “Starboard” “Way ‘nuff!”  And words like “cox’n” and “gunnel” will enter your vocabulary. Yes, these are terms that you will hear while learning to row, plus several more! Rowing uses unique terminology, dating back to 18th century England, to describe parts of the boat and commands while rowing on the water. Yes- the sport is that old!

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 good to feel your muscles working!

Don’t worry if it’s not as easy as you thought.

The LTR programs are multi-day for a good reason – it takes time and practice to learn to row! Don’t give up, even if you’re frustrated after the first week or two. You will improve your rowing technique through practice. Attend the classes you’ll be soon be rowing with confidence!


No, we do not require BCRC membership to take a LTR class. However, if at any point during or after the class you wish to row in our group rowing sessions, membership would be required.  Memberships are typically prorated and discounted for rowers that have attended a LTR class.  Once the class is complete you’ll know the basic skills and be ready to join group rowing sessions! We’d love for you to continue your involvement by joining the BCRC!

Comfortable exercise clothes, socks and a water bottle are a must. No baggy shirts, shorts or pants as these can get stuck in the equipment.  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.

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 and fitness will improve with time.  Be aware though – rowing is rewarding and can be highly addictive!

Our classes are filled on a first-come first-served basis through our on-line website registration, 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 openings to the class to accommodate everyone that wants to learn.

All LTR classes are held at our boathouse on the Middlegrounds 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.

Since rowing is a water sport, there is a very small possibility that the boat you are in could capsize and end up in the water. You should be able to swim 50 yards and be able to tread water for 5 minutes.  Our coaches will be in a launch boat accompanying the rowing boats and have PFDs in the event of an emergency. If you are not confident in your swimming ability we do have compact PFDs that can be worn while rowing.  Please discuss this with your coach at the first practice or before.

We understand you may have to miss one or two class sessions, and that’s fine. It will be your responsibility to let your LTR instructor know as early as possible so they can find a replacement for you on those days.  For team rowing, we need to fill the entire boat!  It might be possible for you to fill in for someone in another class to make-up for the day you missed.  We don’t recommend missing more than 1-2 class sessions, as this could delay your proficiency in learning to row.

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 or other activities. If a class must be canceled, your LTR instructor will send an email (or text) as early as possible to let everyone know.

Our boathouse has both men’s and women’s locker rooms, 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 belongings on the benches 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.  

Still Have Questions?

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


Physical Address

350 West Lafayette Avenue
Bay City, MI 48706

(Across from the Boys & Girls Club
of the Great Lakes Bay Region)

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 615
Bay City, MI 48707-0615




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