Given that I follow Eric Murray and @kiwipair on Twitter, I signed up for an early look at his new online coaching service, @aSensei. I was intrigued because of the use of AI and direct connection to the C2 that it promised.
I was skeptical because many of these services seem to be targeted at the casual or novice indoor rower, but this one seems to have the coaching pedigree (including Share Farmer’s Dark Horse Rowing) to cross between indoor rowing, CrossFit, and competitive on-water rowing.
So I decided to sign up and give it a try during the de-load weeks following the end of my fall season at the Head of the Charles.
It’s a great app – it automatically connects to the C2 PM5, integrates with your C2 logbook, and you don’t have to do any setup at all. If you get a LiveRowing phone harness it’s even better, because it’s designed for you to keep your eyes on the screen and follow along while rowing. The production quality is high. If you want to try what it’s like to be in a dedicated rowing studio but you train on your own, this is great way to do it.
The workouts tend to be about 30 minutes, so they are manageable “bites,” and can be done before or after a CrossFit WOD. For CrossFitters I’d definitely recommend even the “free” series of workouts as it takes you through the basic technique and helps you determine a good base pace for your WODs.
As an advanced rowing athlete, it’s been surprisingly good to progress through the basics – having to hit the stroke ratings and follow along behind a coach on the screen keeps you very focused – you can’t slip into “ergo autopilot.” A review of technical basics is always good and something we sometimes skip over in our warmups. One of the things in this program is having to increase or decrease by a single stroke per minute – which is actually pretty hard to do with precision. Having to focus on fine gradations of stroke rate has made me more aware of acceleration on the drive and a slow recovery. So it teaches control and finesse on the C2, especially around how your body is swinging. I find that it makes me focus on the quality of, and power application on, each stroke.
The app gives real time feedback – it measures your splits and power curve at different ratings and then gives you challenges to hit your numbers – none of them have been too hard so far, but in looking at some of the advanced workouts (e.g. 8x1k) it could get really challenging.
Things I’d like to see in the future:
- More women and masters-level coaches.
- Heartrate / intensity measurement – I think right now stroke rate is a proxy for intensity, which may be true for accomplished rowers but likely not for novices or CrossFitters.
- Ability to drill into or download your workout log for deeper analysis outside of the app.
- Ability to flag your favorite songs for a playlist.
- Ability to at least run through the workouts even without a PM5 – e.g. if you’re traveling and go to a random gym with an erg, it would be great to be able to follow the video workout with split targets based on past history, even if the results are not getting logged.
- Ability to preview a workout in case you plan to do it on the water and can’t focus on your phone, and/or integration with NK SpeedCoach GPS.
It’s a great start and I’m optimistic – I’m going to use this service to try to improve my 2K time in the Nov-Jan timeframe, and I’ll update you on progress.
If you want to check it out, go here: https://ericmurray.asensei.com?kid=TG7JJ