skip navigation

Learn to Row!


Additional Class Details


All  sessions meet at the LPRA boathouse on Lake Purdy, 3780 Boat Launch Road, 35242.  Soon after turning off Hwy 119 at the sign for Lake Purdy Fishing, you‘ll see our boathouse on the right and the Lake Purdy Fishing offices on the left.  Please park on the left side of the road, opposite the boathouse.     



We highly encourage 100% attendance - you can't row an 8 person boat without 8 people, so your absence could prevent the rest of your crew from rowing.  Also, because each session builds on the last, if you miss even one your crew members will advance beyond your level and you will hold them back while you catch up.  If something critical comes up and you will miss or be late to a session, text or call  205-948-9716 as soon as possible and we'll try to find a volunteer to row in your place.  



Class will be held as scheduled unless you hear otherwise via text message.  We will row in the event of light rain, but if there are high winds or thunderstorms we’ll text that class is cancelled and will schedule a make-up day.



Our head coach, Olympic medalist Jackie Zoch Major, conducts the classes 

along with other coaches and members - all of us are volunteers who enjoy sharing our love of the sport (LPRA is member-run, with no employees).  Coach Jackie will push you to get it right - if she believes you can do it - so be prepared to learn from one of the best.    



Wear dry-fit type t-shirts and spandex shorts - no loose clothing - a baseball cap, and water shoes or thin-soled athletic shoes without a wide heel.   Always bring a pair of thick socks, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a filled water bottle.


Register now for Learn to Row classes led by our Olympic medalist coach, Jackie Zoch Major!  Classes are geared toward adults age 18-80 who have never rowed, and designed to qualify you to join LPRA and continue rowing.  Tuition is only $180 for the 6-session class and seats are limited, so don't delay.  

Sat. June 6, 8am-10am
Sun. June 7, 8am-10am
Tues. June 9, 6pm-8pm
Sat. June 13, 8am-10am
Sun. June 14, 8am-10am
Tues. June 16, 6pm-8pm
Sat. July 11, 8am-10am
Sun. July 12, 8am-10am
Tues. July 14, 6pm-8pm
Sat. July 18, 8am-10am
Sun. July 19, 8am-10am
Tues. July 21, 6pm-8pm


You need to be a competent swimmer and comfortable in and on the water.  Unfortunately, due to equipment design limitations, we are unable to accommodate candidates weighing more than 250 lbs.

What to Expect

SESSION 1 - Saturday

At the lake on land.  You’ll learn basic rowing technique on rowing machines - how to engage your legs, back, and arms through the catch, drive, finish, and recovery.  You’ll also get familiar with the parts of a rowing shell.


SESSION 2 - Sunday

First day on the water!  You’ll help launch the boat and become familiar with the sliding seat, foot stretchers, riggers, oarlocks, and oars.  Then you’ll head away from the dock and learn how to feather and square your blade and adjust your hand height to keep the boat level.  Warning: don’t be put off by how complicated it seems, or how rocky the boat is today - everything begins to come together on Tuesday!  


SESSION 3 - Tuesday

You’ll head out into the lake then take turns in pairs, practicing what you learned at the gym - rowing with arms only, arms and back, then adding in legs.  Meanwhile your fellow crew members will practice “setting the boat” - keeping it level.  Today the work of the first 2 sessions pays off as you begin to actually row. 


SESSION 4 - Saturday

Halfway through to graduating!  You’ll confidently claim your seat, lock in your oar, and help maneuver the boat away from the dock.  To refine your stroke you’ll perform drills in pairs, then 4 at a time, learning to coordinate your action with the rest of the crew. While others practice you’ll set the boat and enjoy the ride with the breeze in your hair. 


SESSION 5 - Sunday 

Now you have all the basic elements in your head; you just have to communicate them to your body.  This is where repetition pays off, so you’ll do a lot of rowing.


SESSION 6 - Tuesday

Graduation day - rowing and celebration.  Your entire crew should be rowing together and the boat will fly - if we can fill more than one boat you’ll even race!  This is where your real fun begins - and there’s no better workout than one that leaves you grinning.


If you have attended all six sessions, demonstrated that you have learned the basics of rowing crew, and know how to manage and protect the boats and equipment, you‘ll receive a graduation certificate and an invitation to join LPRA. As an LPRA member you’ll receive further instruction from members and coaches, learn to scull (row with 2 oars), and be able to use club boats and equipment (appropriate to your level of knowledge and ability). 


Parts of a Complete Rowing Stroke

Catch:  The moment the blade enters the water and initiates the drive.


Drive:  Portion of the stroke that propels the boat through the water. The drive starts at the catch and ends with the release.


Release:  The end of the drive, when the rower removes the oar from the water and then feathers. Also called the Finish.


Recovery:  The portion of the stroke after the rower releases the oar from the water and returns to the catch position.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why 6 sessions?

A:  The learning curve is steep - you’ll learn a lot each session, and taking a break after each one helps you cement the knowledge, ready to build on it at the next session. 


QDo I need to attend all 6 sessions?

A:  Yes.  The information taught in each session is cumulative. 


QWhy such a complex schedule?

A:   To complete the training in a 2-week window, we schedule early weekend mornings and Tuesday evenings in effort to avoid most participants’ busiest times.  However, the first Saturday session is held in the afternoon.


QWhat type of rowing will I learn?  

A:   You’ll learn rowing with one oar - called “sweep” or “crew”, in boats with 4 or 8 rowers (crew members) and a coxswain (cox) who steers the boat and coordinates the rowers. Another type of rowing, called “sculling” involves using two oars, most often in a one, two, or four person boat with no coxswain.  The principles you learn in sweep generally apply to sculling as well. 


QAfter I learn, what’s next?  

A:  After you successfully complete the class, you will be invited to join LPRA and participate in group rowing activities. As a member, the coaches will help you expand your skill and knowledge.


Rowing Terminology

Ergometer: Rowers call it an “erg.” It’s a rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion.


Shell: Can be used interchangeably with boat.


Starboard: Right side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of movement.


Port: Left side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of the movement.


Bow: The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line. The person in the seat closest to the bow, who crosses the finish line first.


Stern: The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing.


Oar: Used to drive the boat forward: rowers do not use paddles.  Oar parts include handles, collars, and blades. 


Rigger: The triangular shaped metal device that is bolted onto the side of the boat and holds the oars.


Oarlock:  The u-shaped lock at the end of the rigger that attaches the oar to the shell. The oarlock allows the rower to rotate the oar between the squared and feathered positions.


Foot-stretcher: The adjustable footplate with built in shoes which allows the rower to adjust their position in the shell.


Collar:  A wide collar on the sleeve of the oar that keeps the oar from slipping through the oarlock. Also called a button.


Feather the blade:  rotate the oar handle so the blade is parallel to the water. This is done at the finish so the blade is parallel to, and slightly above, the water during the recovery.


Square the blade:  rotate the oar handle so the blade is perpendicular to the water. This is done at the catch so the blade is perpendicular to, and in, the water during the drive.


Way-Enough:  stop