From Olympic Rowing to Ocean Rowing to Indoor Rowing | Concept2

From Olympic Rowing to Ocean Rowing to Indoor Rowing

Thumbnail image of author
May 06, 2024

alex gregory on rowergAlex Gregory’s pivotal moment came out of what he considered to be failure. He’d been rowing since he was 17, had been a regular on the British National Rowing Team, but, he says, “I was doing okay on the outside. Inside, I was hating it. I nearly stopped; I’d never won a race. I was nowhere near that. My life revolved around performing and I wasn’t performing.”

Gregory was asked by his coach to be reserve for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. “I gave in. No one wants to be reserve, but I’d decided reserve was my level.”

For Gregory, however, as a reserve everything changed. He went to the Olympics, washed boats and helped out—all without any pressure. “It shifted my perspective. I knew what I’d have to change.”

Gregory’s next eight years unleashed a different side. He went on a medal winning streak which included Olympic gold. Twice. After his second Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympics, Gregory decided it was time to retire. He calls the decision easy and hard.

london olympics
Alex Gregory (left) winning gold at the London Summer Olympics.

“I was 32 years old. I had three children. I’d been away a lot. I had missed two of their births. I felt like I’d done it all and I was satisfied, happy. I didn’t need any more.”

Gregory says he loved it for six months, but then he began to feel lost. “I didn’t know who I was.”

At that time, by chance, Gregory received an invite for an ocean rowing adventure to the Arctic. He joined in. The row went north to the permanent ice cap and on to Iceland. But the boat hit storms and, facing extreme danger, they had to abort their journey and get help.

The crew managed to pull into the island of Jan Mayen, a Norwegian military base. Gregory describes the two weeks on the island as amazing. “It was the most beautiful place.” But that was the end of his adventuring. “I came home and promised my family I wouldn’t do that again.”

Gregory says he spent the next seven years trying to find the right thing to do. Out of this setting came the concept of Mind Body Row. A setting built around failure, incredible success and the highs and lows of competitive sport.

Gregory had been working for IFit, a fitness company best known for their treadmills that include video tours of worldwide locations as they work out. IFit started including tours on rowing machines. Gregory became their filmmaker, and their on-screen trainer.

“Rowing was just a small part of the business and I wanted to take the rowing concept and do it myself.”

The Mind Body Row app was born. The app supplies rowing workouts, technique ideas, training challenges and community support.

Coming from competitive rowing Gregory saw the rowing machine as a necessary evil. A machine to test, select, score and generally cause pain. Now that he’s left competitive rowing behind, Gregory says he’s discovered the value of the rowing machine.

“I’ve discovered it doesn’t have to be scary. It’s beyond useful. You can get a lot done in a short space of time. It’s the efficient way to get fit and keep fit.”

Gregory realizes it’s not a natural go-to for people. “You can get on a cycle or a treadmill and you know what to do, but on a rowing machine you have to know the process to get the best out of it. I want to try and help people make it more natural.”
alex gregory with dog
Mind Body Row is a mass of workout videos in a whole range of settings with a whole range of workout types. And the volume grows, as Gregory is producing them at sometimes more than one a week. He strives to make the rowing machine more interesting and understandable. This takes Gregory outdoors as he favors doing his videos surrounded by nature.

“I want people to see something different every time.”

Gregory is known to haul his rowing machine to all sorts of places. “I love that aspect. I perform better in nature. I get energized.”

Gregory says his most popular workouts are the challenges. This included a six-week consistency challenge leading up to Christmas. “There was a lot of rowing in that. It was like a snowball. More and more people got involved and it grew and grew.”

Gregory has many more ideas and wants to add an on water element, taking his rowers on a tour while they’re on the rowing machine. He’s also planning to add in nutritional information.

The journey is just beginning.

Check out Alex on Instagram.

RSS Icon Subscribe to RSS Feed ›

Latest Posts