Club offers sculling classes

Published 11:05 pm Sunday, April 26, 2009

Imagine you’re on a serene lake at the crack of dawn, gliding into an enfolding vista: trees dripping with dew, a blue heron stalking shallows, sunlight reflecting golden shimmers on open water.

Nature’s symphony surrounds you, along with an almost imperceptible splash of oars. At this blissful moment, you’re staying physically fit, releasing stress and learning new skills. Life’s problems pale, may even disappear.

Now, tell me why you’d workout your legs, back and abs on a rowing machine in a sweaty-smelly gym?

You may have heard of the Yale-Harvard Regatta. Now you don’t have to go to New England for sculling or rowing opportunities. They are offered right in Shelby County by the Birmingham Rowing Club.

President Bill Bryant told me of the clubs history.

“I’ve always liked boats, was looking for a way to get exercise in 1993, when I bought my first rowing shell, and taught myself how, by reading books,” Bryant said.

Bryant described a one-person racing shell: 28 feet long by 12 inches wide, weighing 30 pounds. Recreational rowing shells are wider.

“Then in 1995, I met Ray McAlevy and we’ve worked as partners in developing Birmingham Rowing club,” Bryant said. “In 1998 I began offering rowing as a Special Studies class at UAB, until tax funding ended.”

Now, I’m imaging a rowing regatta, thinking a large body of water, such as a river is needed for competition.

“Currently we meet on Indian Valley Lake, just north of Valleydale Road in North Shelby County. We’re looking at possibly moving to Lake Purdy or Oak Mountain,” Bryant said. “We’re aggressively seeking people who know how to row or are willing to learn, but call for information first.”

Birmingham Rowing Club currently has 16 members, plus others who meet Saturdays at 9 a.m. The members include college-aged through age 60, both male and female. Never tried rowing? Then you’ll start during a “Learn to Row” class which costs $80. Annual dues are $130. For additional information and a class schedule, email Bryant at or call 835-3671.

If exercise is your passion, then you need to know rowers have been called the most physically fit of all athletes. The picturesque sport involves discipline, endurance, balance, concentration, strength and a time commitment. The payoff includes a healthy body, camaraderie, competition and continuing a centuries-old tradition brought across the Atlantic to America.