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Indoor Rowing – a whole body workout

Everything’s set and ready to go for Rowing ACT’s new indoor rowing program for veterans and their families.

A fantastic initiative made possible through a grant from the ACT Government, the four-week program kicks off on 5 September. Veteran Sport Australia’s proud to be supporting the program and the timing is perfect, with the Australian Indoor Rowing Championships only just around the corner on 25 October.

Photo Credit: Renee Wilson

A great opportunity

“We think it’s a great way for veterans and their families in the ACT to come along and do a sport together,” says Alison Creagh, a 30 year veteran of the Australian Army who continues to serve in the Army Reserve and is president of Rowing ACT. “It’s great for your health, great for exercise and just a lot of fun.”

The program will introduce current members of the ADF, veterans and their families to indoor rowing, teaching correct technique and how to use the different tools on the machine to track and improve their performance.

“Rowing is one of those sports that’s really a whole body workout. When you go to the gym, the one piece of equipment that is the best for you to exercise on and give you that whole body workout is the indoor rower,” says Alison. “If you use it right, you’re making so many different muscle groups work effectively. Really good for your sequencing, really good for your control, your coordination, strength, mobility, flexibility. If you know how to do indoor rowing well, you can really get a lot out of it.”

The final Saturday of the program has been set aside for some friendly competition, with participants to row against each other for a bit of fun.

“Hopefully we’ll have mums and dads competing against their kids, we’ll have mates competing against mates and we’ll get a lot out of it,” says Alison.

Photo Credit: Michael White

The power of rowing

Gary and Renee Wilson know first-hand the benefits of indoor rowing.

Gary is a 20 year veteran of the Australian Army, personal trainer, coach and an Ambassador for Rowing ACT. He sustained severe injuries when a Black Hawk helicopter that he was in crashed in Afghanistan in 2010.

“The best part is that it’s good exercise and we know that exercise is vital for mental health,” says Gary of his experience with indoor rowing. He also promotes the accessibility of indoor rowing as a low impact sport, the benefits of bringing the veteran community together and the enjoyment of a bit of friendly competition, just like old times.

“In the army you didn’t run to run the best time, you ran to beat your mates,” says Gary. “There’s always a competitive edge!”

Renee also emphasises the power of accessible sports and served on the Board of Australian International Military Games, successfully delivering the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

“For someone like Gary it’s not easy to participate in traditional types of sport that involve teams and can bring that community to him,” says Renee. “Given the limitations of his injuries and the pain that he deals with, a sport like rowing is almost no impact on his most injured areas. It enables him to participate, which is the key benefit that he’s got from it over the last little while.”

Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Join the community

Rowing ACT’s program will also give participants the chance to join the supportive rowing community that exists in Canberra and get more involved in the sport.

Alison Creagh understands the benefits of the sport from her experience as a competitor, coach and administrator and knows that the rowing community is right behind supporting veterans and their families to become involved.

“Our community’s excited about this opportunity,” says Alison. “I’ve had lots of offers from people who want to help as coaches and support staff to try and make this a great program for veterans and their families.”

Photo Credit: Renee Wilson


Rowing ACT’s ‘Veterans & Families Indoor Rowing Program’ will run on 5, 12, 19 and 26 September. The program is open to all veterans and their families in the ACT. To register your interest, visit: