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The Boathouse arrow right Behind the Oar: Normal is the New Fantastic

Behind the Oar: Normal is the New Fantastic

November 12, 2021

For Dana Batho, a workout gone wrong had permanently shifted her way of life.

“I’m a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. I was an Intelligence Air Force Officer, and I got hurt during a training run a little over nine years ago,” she says. “I was basically doing a two-hour jog with 60 pounds resting against my shoulders and neck.”

Batho says the damage done that day has resulted in chronic pain and a need to figure out the next steps in her fitness journey.

“I’ve been trying for years to figure out the fitness side. My challenge is that I have an upper body injury; my lower body is fine. I’d even spoken to Paralympians about what sports I might be able to do just to stay active.” 

“It basically feels like I have a hundred pounds sitting on my head at all times. So you can just imagine the stress and tension all the time. Even walking is painful for me sometimes. The impact of my feet on the ground, it ricochets into my head and I literally feel like I have to walk around holding my head up. Even being in vehicles and stuff hurts like that little bit of vibration or turning and because your head’s always trying to rebalance you.”

But Batho did eventually find her groove – with Hydrow. She sat down recently with Hydrow Athlete Laine Maher to discuss fitness, health, and finding your rhythm.

A little taste of rowing

“Before I got hurt, I did rowing once or twice at military college. I started at military college in Canada when I was 35,” says Batho. “I know that in the states that’s uncommon, but here the mentality is that as long as you can keep up and do all the things, you’re welcome.”

“I graduated when I was about 39. And so we did a little bit of rowing on that water with some friends right at the end of our fourth year. And I was like, “Oh, this is really cool.” I’ve always loved the water and have lived near water. But then I got injured shortly thereafter and never got back on it.”

“I can’t imagine what that must have felt like when you’re putting in all those hours leading up towards something and then your own training ends up hurting you,” says Laine.

Batho notes that when she first discovered Hydrow, she began doing lots of research.

“It looked so smooth,” she says. “I began asking questions in different groups and communities. I wasn’t sure if rowing would cause a flare-up or not.”

Hooked on Hydrow

Batho decided to take the leap and purchased Hydrow. Her approach has been all about steadiness and consistency.

“I was purposely really slow with it and really gentle at first,” she says. “I think I’ve got about 600,000 meters now. But I’ve been going very slowly on purpose, slowly building my body up to that movement. And to my surprise, I haven’t had flare-ups because rowing is mostly lower body and that’s the part that works well.”

Batho notes that she knew she would have some challenges or modification needs, and she wanted to ensure her approach was right. She signed up for three Hydrow Personal Coaching sessions early on to start off on the right foot.

“I did three Personal Coaching sessions with Megan because I knew that there were going to be issues,” she says. “The muscles up around my neck are so tense; it’s like they’re locked all the time.”

“How great it must feel to be active and sweat again,” replies Laine. “I can tell you’re someone who likes activity, you’re very dedicated and you look to have adventure in your life. It’s awesome to have something like Hydrow that can keep you feeling motivated; you want to feel like yourself. You’re an absolute inspiration and I love your drive.”

“Thank you. Rowing doesn’t cause flare-ups in the way I was expecting. I remember saying to myself “This is magical. I can be normal for a couple of minutes. This is great.””

Finding the flow

Batho notes that the Hydrow community is great, and that she’s content to go at the pace that makes her feel best.

“I love the milestones, and my next one will be the 750,000-meter milestone,” says Batho. “But it doesn’t matter how fast we get there. It’s fine, and I like to remind the community of that. It’s not a race to hit the milestones, especially if you have injuries or whatever. It’s about dialing in to how you feel.”

“Absolutely,” says Laine. “It’s one of the best mental and physical workouts because you constantly have to think about technique no matter what caliber of rower you are. There’s always something to focus on, you know? One of the biggest misconceptions about rowing is that it’s only an upper body workout. It’s mainly lower body, and ultimately it’s a whole-body sport. You’re pushing with your legs to create power.”

After years of searching for a fitness outlet, Batho is happy to have a workout that works for her – and to have variety.

“I row on alternate days and do On the Mat workouts the other days. For me I find it helps me recover better from the rowing workouts, and the On the Mat workouts prevent injury. They’re really fun, too.”

“I wasn’t sure at first whether the Hydrow would work for me or whether it would trigger my pain. It doesn’t and that has been great. My body feels good, it feels the way it did before I got hurt.”

“My Hydrow high is the feeling of flow when I’m able to move my body pain-free. It makes me feel normal again – and that is fantastic.”


Follow Dana Batho on Hydrow. Screen name: #BeachPlease🍤

Learn more about the Million Meter Club here.

Want to add a daily boost to your day? You’ll love #HydrowWinTheDay – learn more here.

And check out a few of our other Behind the Oar member stories here, here, here, here, here and here.

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