Behind The Oar: 75 Years, 1.2 Million Meters and counting

Leanne Yenush

Timothy Yaryan had been active for much of his life. But a recent hospital stay had him feeling like he was starting from scratch again with regard to exercise and fitness.

“I needed something that would be cardio, but also be really engaging,” he says. “I already had a bike and I never used it; it was boring. Then I saw this thing about Hydrow and found it interesting because you get the same cardio benefit but your whole body is involved in the workout.”

Yaryan had been around varsity rowers before in college. His first impression was that they were nuts.

“I had never rowed before myself, but at the University of Washington, rowing was a big sport. I watched some events and knew some athletes, and... they were crazy. Their schedules, their training… all of it.”

Fast-forward 50 years and, to Yaryan’s surprise, one of the first Hydrow Athletes he meets – Lead Athlete Dani Hansen – is also a University of Washington alum. Yaryan likes that he can get to know athletes on his time and leave the brutal training schedule at the door.

“The nice thing about Hydrow is that I don't have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go down to the boathouse for a workout,” he chuckles.

“You can row anytime! It's just in your living room, right?” Hansen points out.

“Right. It's a lot easier when you're in the living room, in the comfort of your own home, and the only distraction is your dogs. It's a fun thing to do, a fun workout, and I look forward to it.”

Having workouts on-demand has clearly been a game-changer: shortly before his 75th birthday, Tim Yaryan reached one million meters rowed on Hydrow and became a member of the Million Meter Club. He sat down with Dani to talk about his experience with Hydrow over the last year.

“Low impact was important for me”

“I'm a larger guy and I’ve realized that, as you get older, you have to protect your knees and ankles,” Yaryan notes. “Jogging and running aren’t very good forms of cardio exercise for someone like me.”

“Finding an activity that was low impact was very important. When you get older, injuries take forever to heal, and injuries can really be big setbacks. I've been doing this now consistently for 13 months and I haven't had any injury.”

Yaryan credits his injury-free success on Hydrow to the on boarding series for new rowers. The “Learn to Row” series is available at all times for all users to learn proper form and get better over time.

“When I started, on a scale of one to ten, my physical conditioning was one or two,” Yaryan says. “If I walked around the block, I was tired. Hydrow was a key part of my post-hospital recovery.”

Bad jokes, great workouts

What helped Yaryan get hooked was that the Athletes are fun and engaging in every class, whether it’s five minutes or 45 minutes. He likes how sometimes Athletes pepper in personal stories, form tips, and even the occasional joke from time to time.

“Dani, I knew you were a Husky (The University of Washington mascot), but when I found out you also like corny jokes, that was endearing for me,” he says. “That's part of the fun. When you're working out and somebody tells you a personal story from their life or quips a joke so bad it’s good, you listen, and you keep on rowing. It's nice.”

Yaryan also appreciates the quality of the workout and how it makes interval training accessible for all levels.

“The workout is enjoyable, but it’s also challenging in a good way. It’s well-designed. I have to admire it; I know a little bit about athletics from having been a former athlete myself, so I knew about interval training and all this stuff. I appreciate the thought behind what goes into the programming.”

Millions of meters, from all over the world

Yaryan kept at it, and before he knew it, he was closing in on a million meters. What felt like an impossible achievement at the beginning was now within his grasp. 

“If someone had told me that I was going to hit a million meters within a year, I would have said ‘no way.’ It felt like a huge accomplishment. And it’s fun to watch the meters pile up! I’m at about 1.2 million currently, and two million is my next goal.” 

Yaryan also really likes the visual variety of different workouts and how some of them are filmed from all around the world.

“I’ve done all the destination rows, every single one of them,” he says. Destination rows on Hydrow are Athlete-led experiences through notable landmarks and cities around the world. “I really enjoyed the Loch Ness video. We didn’t see Nessie though… still checking for Nessie, looking out for Nessie!”

“For someone who is in his seventies, it's important to have things like Hydrow to do. Activities like these are key to keeping you healthy and living a quality life. I think the best thing, and if I had to say in one word, is that Hydrow is fun. If you're having fun, if you're enjoying what you're doing, you're going to stick with it.”


Follow Timothy Yaryan on Hydrow. Username: @bigbear.

Learn more about Hydrow’s destination rows here.

Learn more about the Million Meter Club here.

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