When I moved to London after university I wanted to keep fit and make some friends outside of work. I joined a gym and did some running, but without any goals or encouragement from team-mates, I started to stay later in the office instead of getting out in the fresh air.
When a colleague recommended Barnes Bridge Ladies, I wasn’t sure at first. I’d rowed for a couple of years at uni but was very rusty – I assumed I wouldn’t be up to scratch. However, I discovered a very welcoming club that caters to everyone from complete beginners to competitive racing crews.
The best thing is the flexibility. Whereas university rowing (similar to some of the other clubs on the tideway) has the tendency to become all-encompassing, BBL offers a tight-knit, friendly club feel but also reflects the reality of fitting rowing around wider commitments. It’s possible to adapt training at busy work times, but equally it’s a great incentive to get out of the office on time when there are 8 other people relying on you to get a boat out!
As someone who likes having some structure and goals to my training, I’ve enjoyed being able to scale up my commitment as I’ve settled into life in London. Getting stronger and fitter throughout the year provides a great sense of achievement, and while out on the water or in the gym I forget all about any stresses or worries that have built up over the day. I’ve learned to scull and row in small boats, which is something we didn’t always have the facilities or coaching for at university. Despite being one of the younger members of a diverse club, I have made many great friends, and nothing beats the feeling of finishing a race knowing that everyone’s given it their all.