Rowing offers a low impact, strong cardiovascular ability in a very small space. The challenge is sitting in one place looking at a wall is not going to be a major motivator, day in and day out for either casual or competitive rowers looking to get better or more competitive. Our guest Jeff Day, the CEO of Rowr talks about how we are going to widen the opportunities using a digital world perspective (gamification, virtual experience with film).
Rowing is one of the great forgotten sports. It was the first and most popular inter collegiate sport before college football and one of the first sports in the revised Olympic movement at the turn of the 19th century. It is still seen as the preeminent elitist college sport still and that needs to change as we widen the opportunities for access to these sports where resources (water and boats) are tough to find a digital experience that can replicate the experience of rowing on the Cam or the Thames or the South China sea from a garage, a front room or bedroom.
Covid changed how we think about exercise. While cycling (Peloton) massively benefitted from this, other sports did not grab the immediate opportunity well. Rowing is one of these sports.
· A virtual rowing experience could radically open opportunities in this elite to inner city and less advantaged social groups if it can be made exciting. While rowing is growing in participation by 20% it should be primed for a revolution like Pickleball or even virtual cycling got for Peloton.
· The key to playing sports more accessible is often rethinking -how to change the experience or the perceived sense of value. As the NCAA opens up rowing in American colleges and Pickleball has got its first TV deals and celebrity sponsors, rowing too needs a stark shift left.
· A full VR experience isn’t needed as long as the experience feels deeply embedded. For example, it’s real footage that moves at your speed in the boat. Or there are environmental nuances (diving otters, buoys moving etc).
· Gamifying the process with people around you in the race and allowing you to race against historically recorded races allows you to experience as close to reality, where-ever, whenever and how you want.
Eventually we will get a VR experience on a pair of Oakley like sunglasses with 360-degree views. This could be the first real example of the metaverse coming to reality now. The current experience (2D) is a solid extension, the future 3D world would be really exciting. We don’t need a complete 3D immersion to be radically different.