Where to Learn to Row Around Philadelphia

Get an introduction to the sport and get in shape with these camps, classes and private instructors.


learn to row

Students can learn to row with Philadelphia City Rowing. Photograph by Madeline Kuntz courtesy Philadelphia City Rowing.

If you’ve ever walked along Kelly Drive, you’ve probably gazed with envy at a sculler paddling gracefully down the Schuylkill. Deceivingly serene, the exercise is actually ridiculously effective. Rowing is a total body workout that uses your legs, back, shoulders and arms to propel your boat through the water. The wide range of motion increases flexibility, and the lack of pavement pounding will give your joints a break.

If you’re ready for a new routine, here’s where to learn how to row around Philly.

Rowing 101 at Lloyd Hall

For $100, you get four two-hour sessions on the water with coach Ann Marie Kuvik. Because the class is tailored for beginners, there’s no need to fear that you can’t keep up. Sign up for Monday and Wednesday evening practices or Tuesday and Thursday practices that run through October.
When: Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays starting August 1st; 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Lloyd Hall, #1 Boathouse Row
Cost: $100
Sign up: Call Coach Kuvik at 215-685-3936.

Philadelphia City Rowing

Philadelphia City Rowing is here to turn your middle school and high school students into rowing pros. PCR meets on the Schuylkill three times a week for two hours a session — on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays — and they offer free swim courses on Saturdays at Temple University. Spots are open to 50 middle school Philadelphia Public School and charter school students and twice as many high schoolers, so mark your calendar for July 29th when enrollment begins.
When: Sessions begin on September 16th and run through October.
Where: Lloyd Hall, #1 Boathouse
Cost: Free
Sign up: Find the course on their site.

Cooper Rowing Club

Are you reading us from Camden County and tired of schlepping to the Schuylkill River for rowing? The Cooper Rowing Club is ready to accommodate Southwest New Jersey rowers on the quieter and serene Cooper River — a tributary of the Delaware River. The club’s Learn-to-Row program is open to adults — no experience necessary. The program includes six two-hour lessons at the Camden County Boathouse on Cooper River.
When: Summer sessions run May through August. Find the next one here.
Where: 7050 North Park Drive, Pennsauken, New Jersey
Cost: $350
Sign up: Online here.

Bachelors Barge Club

This club offers private adult lessons for beginners and new members. Here, you can buy classes a la carte after you’ve paid your membership and accompanying new member fee.
When: Times are set up between the student and instructor.
Where: Bachelors Barge Club, #6 Boathouse Row
Cost: $15 to $60 per hour, plus $75 new member fee and cost of regular membership
Sign up: Email the club at bachelorsbargeclub@drexel.edu or visit the club’s website here for enrollment info.

Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club

While this club offers an all-female novice program for all ages, it’s not intended for the casual rowing enthusiast — the club requires you join as a member (it’s selective), and you’ll be expected to show up to three-hour classes, three days a week. But if you’re serious about learning, you’ll have the choice to join the club’s other rowing programs after you complete the six-to-eight-week training period. The club is open to novices once a year (at the end of May). But start dates vary, so check with the club to find out when the next program will be available.
When: Dates and times vary; check with the club.
Where: Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club, #14 Kelly Drive, Boathouse Row
Cost: An adult-novice rowing membership is $550, plus a $250 initiation fee.
Sign up: Send a letter to the membership chair expressing your interest and suitability as a member to the clubhouse for review.

RowZone

If you’re not feeling confident enough to hit the water but still want the benefits of a rowing workout, try a class at RowZone. The 45-minute ergometer workout claims to blast up to 800 calories, build lean muscle, increase core strength and flexibility, and boost endurance. Check out classes at their locations in Rittenhouse and Manayunk.
When: Schedules vary, but RowZones typically offer four to six classes per day
Where: 1717 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse; 4401 Main Street, Manayunk
Cost: $20 per class (memberships also available)
Sign up: Visit the RowZone website to reserve a spot.

Whitemarsh Boat Club

Whitemarsh Boat Club has brought rowing to the suburbs. WBC is an inclusive club that caters to a wide range of rowers — from training younger athletes to be prepared to compete in college to providing breast cancer survivors space to exercise and have fun together to offering older rowers the chance to enjoy their passion.
When: All year 
Where: Hines Rowing Club; 800 Washington Road, Conshohocken
Cost: Memberships vary by age; email Marie Leonard at whitemarshboatclub@gmail.com  for more information.
Sign up: Register online here.

Wilmington Rowing Center

Test the waters at the Wilmington Rowing Center on the Christina River, where each summer they offer a novice course to prepare you for smooth sailing in the fall. Perspective rowers must pass the Learn to Row course, $250, before joining the nine-week-long summer course.
When: Spring and Summer
Where: 501 A Street Wilmington, Delaware 19801
Cost: $250 for Learn to Row course; $100 for the novice course
Sign up: Sign up and pay through www.regattacentral.com. Learn more about their programs here.

Private Lessons

For an introduction to the sport without a long-term commitment or the pressure of a group class, seek personal instruction. Many boathouse members and coaches are willing to provide private lessons upon request. Two such capable coaches:

World Champion and Olympic rower and U.S. Rowing Hall of Famer John Riley definitely has the credentials to get you up to speed. He offers private lessons seven days a week and timing is flexible based on your schedule. The cost of lessons start at $85 and you set out from the Penn Athletic Club’s boathouse. To set up a session, contact him at 267-971-8336.

Jeff Cutler is a Malta Boat Club rower offering group or private lessons in sculling (where one person handles two oars instead of just one) for about $60 a session. “Everything is provided. All the person needs to bring to the boathouse is themselves,” says Cutler. To book a lesson, call him at 215-776-2447