I’ve been spending some time lately testing out the EXR Rowing App, which I can best describe as a “Zwift for Rowers”. EXR is able to connect with a variety of rowers to create an online training platform with an excellent variety of workouts, gamification, and virtual locations. The app is now available on Apple TV, in addition to Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows.
The EXR Rowing App can connect to a variety of rowers including:
- Concept 2
- WaterRower S4 (with Bluetooth ComModule)
- First Degree Fitness (FluidRower)
EXR Rowing – hands on video
While there are a lot of features on the EXR Rowing App that I really dig, the most exciting one to me is what they call the “EXR Split.”
There are two big challenges that need to be solved in order to create a truly competitive rowing experience. The first is having to take in account which rower is being used, since each measure split times differently. For example, when I use a WaterRower, my split times tend to be a bit faster than when I’m on my Concept 2.
The second is being able to adjust for weight. A heavier person will almost always have an unrealistic advantage on an indoor rower. An advantage that does not hold up in reality, given that additional weight also slows down a rowboat. This is true in cycling as well, which is why competitive platforms like Zwift also adjust for each rider’s weight.
The EXR Split solves this issue, but adjusting split times with both the type of rowing machine and the weight of the user being considered. While a competitive mode is still in the works (more on this later), this will allow a 250lb member using a Concept 2 to have a fair competition against a 150lb member using a WaterRower.
While this can take a little getting used to (I am 196lbs so my times are a little slower with the EXR Split), I am excited to know that my rankings on EXR will be a true reflection of my rowing ability.
Power Zone Training
Power Zone Training is easily my favorite way to train for endurance. Power Zones are based on a personal FTP score which is how hard you can row for 60 minutes. Don’t worry about having to actually test this though. Instead you can choose a between a 20 min FTP Test or an easier “ramp up” version.
I have tested over six different connected fitness rowing programs, and this is the first that I have used to implement Power Zone Training. To see it here on EXR makes me a very happy rower.
After picking a location to row in, there are an impressive amount of pre-made workouts to choose from. However, be forewarned, EXR is unapologetically an app designed for the experienced in-door rower. You will not find a lot of workouts or guidance here for beginners.
You can also choose to “Just Row” (with options to set a goal time, meters, or calories burned) or you can create and save your own workouts with the EXR Training Editor.
The post workout data is also well organized and can be exported to third-party apps like Strava, TrainingPeaks, and the Concept2 Logbook.
EXR Mini-Games, challenges, and rewards
Another thing that EXR pulls off well here is the gamification. Not only are there a few mini-games like “Buoy Blast” and “Shark Attack,” but a wide variety of challenges, achievements, and rewards to collect.
As you complete workouts, you gain more XP to help level up your avatar. An avatar which you can full customize using coins you earn by completing achievements and daily/weekly/monthly challenges. It is well done and helps give a sense of progression that I have found to be missing in many other programs.
EXR is planning to expand this concept as they build the framework for an entire MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) experience in addition to an upcoming “Competition Mode.”
Here is where EXR does fall a little short, since these two features are not yet available. With the recent introduction of the EXR Split, I would love to start setting up competitions with friends. For now, I will have to wait and do my best on ranking on some of race workouts like the 2k and 5k.
The EXR Rowing App offers a free 5-day trial for those who want check it out. What’s nice about this trial, is that the five free days are for days you actually row. Other days are not counted against you.
After the free trial is over, you have the option to pay monthly or sign up for a year. The monthly subscription costs $9.99. The year plan is about 20% cheaper and costs $96 ($7.99 per month).
The EXR Rowing App has a lot of great features for the indoor rowing enthusiast. While it may not be a designed for beginners, it is a pleasure to use as an experienced indoor rower. With the wide variety of power zone training, gamification, and upcoming competitive mode using the new “EXR Split,” it has me exited to continue coming back.