A big change has happened. I’ve changed teams. I used to row for Free Sprits (details are still below) but after a lot of careful consideration, I decided to leave and join Fitness Matters instead.

Why? Competition and motivation. Not that I didn’t get these with Free Spirits, but there was a moment in August when I could have tried to beat someone from a personal goal point of view but backed away as there was. Itching to gain from a Team point of view.

And that, was not good enough.

So in order to properly push myself, I’ve joined the team that my main rival rows for. If I want to be the best, I HAVE to beat him.

The good thing is that this is reciprocated. He gets it, and is just as up for beating me as I am for him!

But it’s not just this. It may just be because it’s new and shiny (or at least feels that way) but Fitness Matters is very popular – mostly because of theinspiration  and amount of work Sam and Victoria put into it. It’s not just a team, it’s a community

It may not have the social outlets that Free Spirits has (FM is pretty much Facebook based, whereas FS forum makes it a lot easier to be social) but I’m here for the rowing now, not the chat!!
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From time to time, if you dig deep enough, I’ll refer to the Free Spirits Team that I used to row for. This team exists as an online community at – and before joining Fitness Matters, were the support network that I turned to when I needed help, and were the people who took my indoor rowing from something I just did in the garage, to something I now compete on.

Motivation is half the battle when training for anything – let alone something as solitary and repetitive as training on an erg. As a cyclist, I’d go out for 4 or 5 hour bike rides, but at least I’d cover 100 miles of Scottish countryside in that time.

In my garage, on my erg, it’s just me – the computer software (running RowPro)  and some music. Back and forth, back and forth – on a ‘row to nowhere’.

And this is where the concept of a team comes in. Whether it’s Fitness Matters, Sub 7, Tribesports or Free Spirits. Sure, they can’t be in the garage with me – but they’re better than anyone at knowing what it means to spend 1hr20 on the erg for a half-marathon, and can give realistic support and advice that a ‘normal’ gym goer would have the experience of.

The only downside I’ve found is that sometimes, a little knowledge can be dangerous. Until I’d read an article on the Free Spirits forum about ‘HDing’ (giving up and putting down the handle) I’d never entertained the option of giving up. But here, it had been brought to life by giving it a name – it was a real thing – and therefore, the rot had set into my brain that it WAS an option now.

But the good outweigh the bad 1000 times over. I can’t thank the Free Spirits enough for the motivation I’d received from them to reach even this far, and I know that the push I’ll need to be able to come even close to breaking the world record has already come largely from them. 

Even though Free Spirits are an online community, that doesn’t mean they’re anti-social. A yearly meet up, often bumping into other team-mates at events (well, more by design that bumping) and team competitions like the CTC and Indoor Rowers league mean that though the team home may be a server somewhere – they, like all the other internet based groups are very much a team. Just not the team I row for any more!!!

Yes, all I’ve done is try to put all of that Free Spirits info into the past tense. Apologies if that’s confusing!!!!