Concept2 is one of those rare – legendary fitness equipment manufacturers that have had huge success, while maintaining singularly focused, boarding on obsessive. They have dominated the indoor rowing genre for decades and their Concept2 Rowers have been a staple inclusion in gyms around the globe for just as long.
But this post is not about their brilliant rowers.
This post is about their slightly left of field SkiErg, which looks like a rower, that has been stood on it’s end (with a few bits attached).
Scott from concept2 had this to say:
The SkiErg has similar philosophies to the rower in terms of the flywheel technology, the monitors, the type of data… but it’s an upright machine, based around cross-country skiing, (using) a double poleing technique, so you are pulling in a downward motion rather than sitting on the rower going back and forth.
After interviewing Scott from Concept2 at the Melbourne edition of the Fitness & Health Expo 2016, I was happy to see that the gym I’m a member at had installed two SkiErg’s. Happy days!!!
So here are my thoughts on the SkiErg by Concept2. Be sure to check out my other Concept2 demo’s and interviews too!
The SkiErg’s looks
Let’s just put it out there – Concept2 know how to make a machine that stands out. Just like their rowers, you just know that Concept2 were behind the SkiErg, (without even seeing their logo).
They have used the same identifiable flywheel with 1-10 lever resistance. You also get that all-too-familiar whoooshing sound of air pushing through the chamber and subtly screaming out the vents. Energising!
I really like the touch of wood Concept2 chose to use sparingly around the edges of the SkiErg’s baseboard. The baseboard itself is thick with a protective black colored layer (where you stand). But the exposed wood finish wraps around the edge adding a touch of class and reminds me of the Concept2 C model rower’s oar (my personal favourite indoor rowing oar).
The SkiErg has a stealthy matte black powder coated support bar that attaches to the base and then wraps around the upright structure. The combination of standing on the baseboard and pulling down on the handles feels very grounded and sturdy.
The SkiErg’s Feel
The ergonomic handles are really neat. They feel soft in your hand and gripping them is surprisingly easy. The pulldown motion is smooth and I felt like I really got into a rhythm with the machine at some points. The baseboard is amply wide, but I did find my feet pressing agains the support bars. My feet seemed to prefer a wider stance on this machine… but thats just me.
The SkiErg Workout
Man it is a tough workout! Rowing isn’t easy, skiing is even harder! Any machine that enables upper body isolation or focus, is always going to be additionally challenging. This however, is on a new level. I’m not addicted to it yet, but i’m getting there. It seems to be the type of machine that likes to standover you physically and mentally… and I respect that.
There are multiple ways to use the SkiErg too. Adding a deeper squat or stepping back into a lung adds even more complexity and muscle engagement.
I often walk away from the machine out of breath from only small burst’s on it (which seems to be the point really). But recently I have learned to slow my pace and extend my time, which has added a different type of muscle soreness – and I really like it!
The SkiErg’s Technology
The SkiErg comes packed with the same console as their formidable rowers – the PM5. This means connectivity!
The PM5 has a number of preset distance options for you to get stuck into, or you can try a game or just ski!
Concept2’s ErgData app can be paired with the PM5 and you can then retain your data and build your workout history.
The app also features voice guidance and allows you to pair a Bluetooth Polar Heart Rate Monitor. (I will check if it pairs other bluetooth heart rate monitors soon and let you know…)
One funny observation for me was when I paired my phone/App with the PM5. The phone noticed the PM5 Console’s date and time were wrong, and asked me if I’dl like to fix it?… I said ‘sure’ and sure enough the time and date on the PM5 adjusted itself… gotta love technology!
If you want to take your SkiErg’ing to the next level, you can also set up an account (via the app) and sign into Concept2’s website and sync the data to concept2’s global website. This will allow you to then log your efforts centrally and you also become eligible to attempt country and world ranking status.
The SkiErg is my kind of machine!!! It hurts sooooo good! It is a perfect machine for HIIT sessions and I am beginning to appreciate it for longer efforts too. The handles are well designed and comfortable and the machine’s air flywheel is smooth and encourages you to fall into a nice rhythm (fitness level dependant – of course:)
The PM5 console is big, bright, easy to read and most importantly – connected. This technology has done the machine a world of good, with performance data retention made possible via their connected app.
This connectivity has also improved usability and no doubt participation in Concept2’s World Ranking system that helped the company establish its cult following many years ago.
Attempting world ranking status is an incredibly humbling experience and can add genuine and profound meaning to the whole rowing/skierging experience. You may even become addicted!
On a personal level, while doing research for this post, I discovered there doesn’t seem to be too many competitors in the tiny country I live…. So, I am going to train hard and try to achieve the #1 country position before I fly in to cover the Sydney Fitness Show.
I’ll keep you posted on my attempt!
24.3.17 – I currently hold the 100m record in my country and ranked 154th in the world.