The science behind the Hydrow high: flow state

Kristin Haraldsdottir and Ph

Written by: Kristin Haraldsdottir, PhD

You’ve probably heard of the flow state, and maybe you’ve even experienced it. It’s the incredible feeling of “being in the zone” - being completely focused on a task, losing track of time, and the feeling of euphoria and accomplishment afterwards. This feeling conquers all other feelings and allows you to perform at your best, have a sense of mental clarity, and feel utterly happy.  Most importantly, the flow state plays a critical role in feeling what we’ve termed the Hydrow high: that immersive, incredible rush driven by the combination of the effects of a full-body workout, connection with live community, connection to the outdoors, and meditative movement.  

What is the flow state?

Introduced to the popular culture by positive psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura, the flow state is often described as “the secret to happiness.” In this state, you give your full attention to the activity at hand, immerse yourself, and ultimately experience a mental flow state that can be described as having complete and automatic control over fluid movements, greater confidence, clear goals, a feeling of ecstasy, increased motivation, a sense of fulfillment, and peak performance. 

The flow state and the Hydrow high

Rowers have been found to achieve the flow state particularly well, especially when in a boat with other athletes. The sounds from the water rushing under the boat and your teammates’ breathing in unison, the sight of your teammates swinging together in the same workout, and the physical sensation of rowing in unison with teammates all contribute to the amazing feeling of “flow.” At Hydrow, it’s when - for that brief amount of time during your workout - you’re so wrapped up in the moment that your to-do lists and daily tasks melt away and you’re fully lost in the moment.

Recent research has demonstrated that doing a higher intensity workout while actively engaging with a mindfulness exercise improves the likelihood of achieving the flow state. With Hydrow, your workout is an interactive, immersive and engaging experience, where you are actively listening to the Athlete, monitoring (or racing) the leaderboard with thousands of your teammates, and navigating a waterway from around the world.  These components - the sense of rowing with a team, the incredible scenery, the connection with the Athlete, and the challenging full-body workout - work together to help you to achieve the flow state and to experience the unique Hydrow high.

The flow state contributes to happiness and well-being, and to the experience of what we’ve termed the Hydrow high. At Hydrow, we know what it feels like after you join in and row in sync with your community for a steady state row, and when your abilities are pushed to the max and your focus is so wrapped up in a high intensity interval workout that you forget all your daily distractions. It’s the convergence point where the inner chatter of your mind is silent, you’re completely dialed into the regular rhythm and flow of the workout at hand, and you’re engaged and focused on the present moment.