Indoor rowing is a 15 year success not a new London craze, says county instructor

Indoor rowing to music has been hailed as the latest fitness craze to hit London – but surprise, surprise, it’s been running successfully in Shropshire for the last 15 years!

Jim Mostyn of Gym Mostyn based at Wrekin College in Telford
Jim Mostyn of Gym Mostyn based at Wrekin College in Telford

Jim and Sally Mostyn have been running classes five days a week at Gym Mostyn at Wrekin College during that time and say they have seen amazing results with clients developing a healthier lifestyle and higher standard of well-being from the regular complete body exercise indoor rowing provides.

It is also helping people recover from injury, surgery and ill-health and to develop a greater level of fitness – with one regular client admitting “If I hadn’t come rowing I’d be dead”.

Jim, 66, has an impressive CV. He has competed in a number of sports to a very high standard, was head of PE at Bedstone College and Director of Sport at Ellesmere College before becoming Marketing Manager and latterly Director of Sport at Wrekin College.

He has also been involved in coaching rowing, rugby, athletics, cricket and squash teams and individuals at the highest level. Jim was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and believes leading a very active life and looking after himself helped him to successfully beat the disease.

He and Sally started the indoor rowing classes in 2003 and it became so successful he had to make a choice between his job at the college and his new business – he chose Gym Mostyn.

“We are hearing about this new fitness fad gripping London at the moment called indoor rowing to music and how it’s the thing of the future but we’ve been doing it here in Telford for the last 15 years,” he said.

“London may think it’s a fad but this fad has evolved here and turned Gym Mostyn into a flourishing indoor rowing centre.

“It’s a low impact way to health, provides complete body exercise using all the muscle groups and gives a high intensity cardio vascular workout set to music and at your own pace. It works for all ages and we have had primary school children right through to people in their 80s taking part in the programme.”

The walls of Gym Mostyn are covered with pictures of the people who attend the rowing classes regularly and it makes for impressive viewing.

They include Stephen Harpin, who rowed the Atlantic and recently climbed the Matterhorn and Danny Bidgood who won the British Judo Veteran Championships and a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships – beating President Putin’s bodyguard in the process!

Danny has given his Team GB judo suit to Jim and it occupies a prominent spot on the wall of fame.

Other regular indoor rowers at the club include Jim Tranter who plays hockey for England’s over 70s and won a World Championship silver medal in Australia in 2016; Alan Bain, who has represented Scotland’s over 60s and over 65s hockey team and now plays for the over 70s national side; Martin Skehan who won bronze at the 2017 World Indoor Rowing Championships and Tom Gittins who was 2017 Welsh Indoor Rowing U-18 and Midland U-18 Champion.

Jim added: “We have more than 100 people coming to our classes every week, some come purely for the health benefits, some for the challenge and others to take it to a different level as preparation for competition. There is also a social aspect to it and people love meeting up here for their regular classes.

“It has been very popular and we have just enjoyed our best seven months in an extremely successful 15 years – it has never been so good. We have been the home of indoor rowing for some time and I would say not many, if any, do it like we do.

“Sally and I take most of the sessions and I can train people up to become coaches. We have some help in taking the classes from coaches Chris Leech, Chris Griffin and Stuart Shepherd.

“We love to see our rowers achieve a healthier lifestyle or go on to compete at what is an extremely high level. It’s all about people’s health and it’s unique what we do. One of our regulars told me he was convinced he would have been dead had he not come to our indoor rowing classes.

“Another, Bernadette Frain, held a British record for her age group. Some years ago she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Her specialist told her it was a condition that could not be cured or halted.

“She came indoor rowing and on a later visit to the specialist he said he couldn’t believe the improvement. Her bone density was back to the level when she first met him. She comes in regularly for one-to-one sessions today.

“The non impact aspect is a key factor and people find indoor rowing ideal in rehabilitation after injuries or surgery like knee or hip operations and heart attacks.

“I believe our indoor rowing model at Gym Mostyn could be transplanted to anywhere in the country and would see some amazing results in terms of health benefits for those taking part. If I was on a desert island and told I could have only one piece of equipment it would have to be an indoor rowing machine.

“Our classes are a marvellous thing to be part of and we are so proud of what our rowers across the age spectrum are achieving in staying fit and healthy. Indoor rowing is having a tremendous effect on their lifestyle – not bad for the ‘current fad’ which has stood the test of time in Telford!”

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