Under the microscope: WaterCrew Workout Indoor Team Rowing Class (£20 per session)
In theory: WaterCrew is an indoor group-rowing programme designed by seasoned rowers. Participants are led through a structured workout covering a variety of exercises that work 84 per cent of the body's muscles. The 45-minute class reproduces the physiological benefits of rowing, while a focus on timing and drills encourages teamwork. The WaterRower machines (which use a water-filled flywheel to create resistance) mimic the movement experienced on the water, making participants focus on the unity of motion and technique, while the sound of the moving water makes for a tranquil yet invigorating experience.
In practice: Since Dr F has always avoided the rowing machines on previous gym visits (boring!), she didn't hold high hopes for dedicating the best part of an hour to this. It was, however, infinitely more appealing than the thought of taking to the Thames, and the music-led classes at London's Trinity Health Club (www.trinity healthclubs.com) delivered a satisfyingly tough workout while keeping the interest up with varied speeds and levels of exertion. Everyone can work at their own level while still being able to keep up with the team drills.
Observations: Rowing really does work an awful lot of muscles, so although she never felt as puffed out as on a treadmill, Dr F did leave classes feeling dog-tired – a good indication of a worthwhile form of exercise if ever there was one.
Analysis: This is a pleasingly social way to exercise, so even those who have never displayed the remotest talent for a team sport can experience a bit of camaraderie, even if it is rather illusory. What's more, it's high-impact but low-intensity, which means chances of injury are low.
Prescription: If you are bored of the old gym routine, this is a break from the norm. It's not enough to take your fitness levels to Olympic standard, but it's a fun supplement a couple of times a week.
Further experiments: The WaterCrew class should be rolling out to the rest of the UK in the coming months. For details, check out www.waterrower.co.uk.
Scores: 1 star placebo 2 stars sticking plaster 3 stars over-the-counter remedy 4 stars should be available on the NHS 5 stars miracle cure