Behind The Oar: Teamwork makes the dream work

Leanne Yenush

Throwing out exercise ideas to a group of strangers sounds daunting at first. But for Kate Freitas, dreaming up new ways to move her body – and inviting others to do the same – is exactly what gets her inspired and pumps her up.

“I grew up as one of those kids that played a different sport every season,” she says. “I love everything. I need to do it all. And sometimes that means I spread myself a little thin, but I love variety – it keeps me balanced.”

When Kate discovered Hydrow, she found she loved not only the workout experience but also the community of fitness lovers like herself from all over the world.

“It’s been awesome. I am all about finding silver linings, and this Hydrow Facebook community has been a huge surprise in the best way. It’s been especially helpful in this past year and a half while we’re all stuck at home.”

Freitas sat down with Hydrow Athlete Laine Maher to discuss growing up in sports, overcoming injuries, and finding new ways to stay inspired.

“I love being part of a team”

“My dad was a high school coach for baseball and football, so there was a huge emphasis on playing sports as a kid,” says Freitas. “We were active all the time. I also got to spend all of my summers up in Vermont because my parents ran a summer camp. While I didn't row back then, being on or near the water feels like a second home.”

“Kate, I think we could be best friends because you sound exactly like me,” gushes Laine. “Having that background where you're involved in so many different things allows you to really find what you love, but also experience variety and meet new people. You've been so active in the Hydrow member Facebook group; tell us about some of those challenges you've created and some of the people you've met along the way.”

“It's funny; the monthly challenges that I get excited about posting, it totally started with just one person,” notes Freitas. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, you wanna go? Okay – let's do 100 pushups a day, then.’ And he said YES.”

“I thought to myself, ‘I’ve found my people!’ Also, I can't pass up a challenge. I'm so stubborn; my head is my biggest competitor. So I posted about it, and everyone began chiming in and saying "I'm in! I'm in!"

“I feel like I'm part of a team again. And I feel that way too when I am rowing, both on Hydrow and now out on the water. I love being part of a team."

Switching it up

“I used to run long distances, and I realized that even in my adult life – for both my body and my personality – I need a variety of activities,” notes Freitas. “I also got injured during that time; I ran, and I ran, and I ran… and then I tore my hamstring. I realized I needed strength training. I needed to swim. I needed to challenge myself in different ways.”

“So I got Hydrow, and immediately it was like, "Oh wow, I feel like I'm on the water.” I pretend you guys are talking only to me and no one else is listening. Of course, you're talking to me, right?!”

Laine notes how finding a crew virtually has been so important as we navigate the pandemic together.

“The community is so awesome. And like you said, Kate, we’re fortunate to be able to find people virtually, through a positive outlet, in a time of darkness in the world. To be able to create this space where we could not only exercise and feel good about ourselves but also meet people and talk about those challenges and wins… that’s special. You get to know people quickly.”

“Yes,” agrees Kate. “What I also love about it is how amazing people are in this group. Some people row every single day. I'm not one of those people, because, for both my body and myself, I like variety, but that blows me away. It's been fun to encourage people to push themselves.”

“People share with me that they’ve never done a push-up. I tell them to try for ten today with their knees down, and then perhaps 15 tomorrow. It's super fun and a little silly, and some people have been like, "Oh my God, I never thought I could do this. I just got so much stronger in one month!" It’s been so fun.”

Millions of meters, both inside and out

Laine notes how much she and the other Athletes are fueled by the energy of the Facebook group as well.

“My favorite thing is seeing that you guys enjoy the workouts, or that you pushed through something that you didn't think you could. And you've just recently hit a million meters to join the Million Meter Club, is that right?”

“Yes!” Freitas exclaims. “All of you Athletes bring something different. Your personalities, your backstories, even the workouts, and how you coach us and motivate us. Everyone is like “Who do you gravitate towards?" and my response is that I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I bounce around from Athlete to Athlete pretty evenly.”

Freitas, who is based in Boston, also decided to take her rowing hobby outdoors – and was surprised to find other Hydrow Members doing the same. 

“For one of my monthly challenges, I told myself, "Okay, just make the first move toward getting on the water. Just Google the nearest boathouse. Just send an email asking what they have. That's it. And then, see where that goes." And now I'm so excited to see all these other people from the Hydrow community getting on the water for their first time and challenging themselves to try something new.”

“By the way, you guys are amazing,” laughs Freitas. “I got on the water for the first time in 20 years and I was like "Oh, this is really hard. How are the Athletes doing this while also talking to us and doing 30 strokes per minute? Y’all are incredible."

What’s next for Freitas? She’s focused on staying connected and balanced – and maybe throwing another big audacious goal out on the table to see who bites.

“Another member and I are trying to figure out how to make a little adult camp next summer for Hydrowers to get everyone on the water. I've done it with a running group before, and I was like, "This would be so cool." That's a big, lofty goal.”


Follow Kate Freitas on Hydrow. Screen name: @k8ydid

Learn more about the Million Meter Club here.

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