May 29, 2013 12:35 AM by Jeanette Trompeter

No Place LikeHome: SLO Rowing Club

It's spring, which means many of us want to get in shape, and get outside as much as possible to do so. Well have we found a great option to accomplish both goals. We head to Santa Margarita Lake tonight to find more proof There's No Place Like Home.

Santa Margarita Lake came to be in 1941. The Salinas river was damned to provide water to Camp San Luis as part of a World War II effort. Today it's a water source for the city San Luis Obispo. It's also beautiful playground for the entire Central Coast. "Lots of folks who come out to do boating fishing, hiking, equestrian groups that come out and ride our trails, it's a favorite of mountain bikers." says Chuck Woodard, Park Ranger III for the County of San Luis Obispo as he tours us on a boat around the lake. "We host bass tournaments most weekends as well through the spring." he says.

The lake has about 800 surface acres, and the beautiful park that surrounds it that is about 8000 acres. It's a favorite hang out for a group of rowing enthusiasts who are out here year round mornings and weekends.

The San Luis Obispo Rowing Club has about 60 members of all skill levels. "The rowing club was formed 10 years ago by enthusiasts who like to row primarily what's called racing boats, where you sit backwards, you're on a sliding seat here and we face the stern rather than paddling where you face forward." says Marty Hawke/President of the club.

Club members range in skill level from national champions to novices. "At least half the club has never rowed before until they took lessons here." says Hawke.

Racing boats are very narrow, only about 10 inches wide, but about 27 feet long, and they're light...under 30 pounds, which can make staying upright a bit challenging for beginners. I gave it a go and found out how stability can be a tough thing to achieve on them, even the training boats. With a little time, however, and coaching from club members, you can get the hang of it. It is awkward paddling backward if you've never done so before. "I suppose someone is going to tell me if I'm going to hit something?" I yell to my coaches on shore.

Eventually I kind of got the hang of it. But not without a few moments that made my coaches chuckle. The bottom line, I didn't tip over. Oh yeah, and there are no beverage holders in these boats.

Even if you've never done anything like this before, they have the instructors and boats to help you give it a go. And just like that, you can find a new form of play, and potential to get in shape for summer. It's great exercise because it's full body and it's non impact." says Hawke. "Rowing is primarily a leg sport and you follow through with your arms and shoulders and back so you're getting all parts of your body and there's no impact like you would running."

Because the only other boats you'll see on the water are bass fishermen and other anglers, it leaves opportunity to take in the beauty of the natural surroundings. And it's wonderful to wake up on the water, taking in the wildlife, and discovering yet more proof There's No Place Like Home. "We just couldn't be blessed with a better place to row than Santa Margarita Lake. It's just idylic." Hawke says.

The rowing club is open to anyone. Membership is $120 a year. Iit's a non-profit, so that just pays for boats which you can use, and the clubhouse maintenance. They also offer lessons. The club is hosting an open house June 15th. They'll be having demonstrations, tours, food and will put you in a boat if you want. For more information, click here.

For more pictures on our day on the lake, click here.



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