Learn to Row

Why learn to row?

Rowing is an incredible activity:

  • Rowing works all of the major muscle groups, working on both the upper and lower body, making it a very effective way to get fit and burn calories.
  • You can learn the basics of rowing very quickly, yet it remains a challenge throughout the years as you continue to improve.
  • People of all ages, sizes, and physical limitations can learn to row and achieve a level of accomplishment that is both physically beneficial and personally rewarding. Being tall is not a requirement!
  • Rowing is a non-impact sport, meaning that it is suitable for many people who have suffered injuries from previous sports.
  • Teamwork is an important part of rowing, where synchronisation with the rest of your crew is as important as your individual rowing.
  • Rowing is a good stress-buster, providing a physical outlet to push yourself, whilst enjoying being outside on the water.
  • It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors!

Rowing is, simply put, a fun way to stay fit! It can also offer the challenge and excitement of racing, either in Cambridge, or further afield.

If you already have some rowing experience, the Learn to Row course may not be the best route back into the sport; instead please contact the relevant captain (men's, women's or junior) about rowing with Cantabs.

Learn To Row
Members of the April 2019 course in the indoor rowing tank

What happens during a Learn to Row course?

The Cantabs Adult Learn to Row course is one of the most comprehensive on the Cam. It takes place over 8 weeks, with one session per week and costs £100.  You will start off on indoor rowing machines and in the indoor rowing tank, and move onto the water in both sculling (2 oars per person) and rowing (1 oar per person) boats.

Recent course participants said:

Learning to row has been, above all, a great confidence booster for me, and I feel so much fitter than before. It’s been really fun getting to know new people and developing a real sense of team spirit.
I would definitely recommend the Learn to Row course with Cantabs. Everyone is really friendly and the outings are great fun. Entering the Christmas Head at the end of the course was fantastic too!

Do I need to have super-human strength and fitness?

Whilst anyone with super-human powers will be especially welcome, we respect the adage that you should learn to row well before you are asked to row hard, so the course is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

Advice about improving your fitness and land training will be readily available. For safety reasons, you should be able to swim a minimum of 50 metres. If you have any questions about this, please use the form below to enquire.

Who will teach me to row?

The Adult Learn to Row course is run by the club’s Learn to Row Coordinator, in conjunction with several volunteer coaches from the Cantabs coaching team as well as Cantabs athletes from both men’s and women’s squads.

Current Cantabs rowers will join you on your first sessions on the water to show you the ropes.

What happens after the course?

After you have completed the Learn to Row course, you will be able to take part in some development sessions before going on to join a squad. In exceptional cases, some Learn to Row ‘graduates’ will be invited to join a squad immediately after they have completed the course.

Under the Squads menu you can see a number of pages giving you an idea of the different crews with their aspirations and training levels. Additional crews also form on a temporary basis, such as mixed crews for a specific event, or just for spending some extra time on the water.


If you are interested in a Cantabs Learn to Row Course, please send us your details using the appropriate form below.

  • Adults: The Cantabs Learn to Row Programme is currently closed to applications. If however you are interested in attending a future programme please complete this form. If you have a specific query, please contact our Learn to Row Programme Coordinator.
  • Juniors: Sign up here to express interest.