Can fat women row?


The hoo ha over the front cover model of Womens Running magazine beggars belief.  BBC asks can you be fat and fit?  Well, doh, of course….

How dumb are these journalists?

Rowing is the perfect sport for the over-weight

Because your body mass is supported by the boat, it enables everyone to move at the ‘same speed’ so the less fit or more overweight perceive they are keeping up with everyone else.

Psychologically that has to make rowing an easier sport to stick with than running whee it’s obvious if you are slow.  In an eight or four, you’re part of the crew.

As the CRI boat club in the US has proven – if you build a crew program for overweight kids – they will row and get fitter.

That’s why we don’t need to write a book “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Rowing”, it’s just not needed.

Tell me I’m wrong.


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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. k

    Please don”t make this a fat girls sport. Put them in a single and the will get stuck on the gunnels. I have seen many high school boys that are FAT and row in a 8 because they fit in the boat. Both FAT girls and FAT boys have trouble because thier abdominal girth gets in the way.

    1. Rebecca Caroe

      Thanks for your very timely reminder. Of course you are right.
      I wrote the post about ‘girls’ because that was the context of the book title.
      Please, if you have personal experience and would like to contribute a point of view (anonymously or named) upload to our guest blogging platform at

  2. Natalie

    K…I don’t think that’s the right thing to say…

    Rebecca’s post is completely right, larger people can row in a 4 or 8 and believe they’re not letting the boat down due to the momentum of the crew – it’s a huge psychological boost which means retention of new rowers is much higher than with running or cycling where not being able to keep up with the pack causes negative feedback. In turn the individual will then get fitter, their coach will probably encourage them to eat a nutrional diet and in time they’ll become a slimmer rower anyway (not that it’s needed).

    Larger women/men are never going to become Olympic rowers if they stay that size, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try the sport – the club they join is unlikely to push them into top boats, but there’s a chance they can still compete and feel part of a team, all of which boosts happiness, dedication and performance. It’s all about being a sensitive coach – you’d be cruel to throw someone in a boat they can’t physically use such as a fine single, but a tub single so they can go out on their own would be perfect.

    All sports should be made accessible to everyone, I have helped and seen girls lose weight, get fitter and (most importantly) gain confidence through rowing. Not only do they gain confidence about their appearance, but about their ability to contribute to a team.

    “Please don’t make this a fat girl sport” is a horrible and vindictive comment to make.

    There is no such thing as fat girl/boy or thin girl/boy sports – there are just sports. Open and available to anyone. Not matter what their weight/gender/race/religion/sexuality – the whole point about rowing and all team sports is inclusion and working as a unit. If you don’t like rowing with a fat girl, tell your coach that and I’m sure they’ll put you out in a single all by yourself, because a comment like that just screams ‘I don’t want to be a part of this team’. If you want to be in a fast boat, train hard and you’ll earn it and if a fat girl happens to be in it as well it means she’s earned it too.

  3. S smith

    Severely overweight people will not always be a good fit for rowing In my experience their girth gets in the way and reduces their flexibility to the pont that it effects their rowing If they start with a big team that has enough novice rowers,then it might be ok. But I row on a small team with mostly experienced rowers and new to rowing overweight out of shape rowers usually get discouraged and quit.

  4. Jessica Sakka

    I admit I’ve never rowed in a boat, just on a water tower, but as a fat girl (5’4″ 230) I gotta say the gut and thighs make things difficult. The narrow stance for my feet coupled with my carrying a LOT of weight in the inner thighs forces my knees to bow to the outside to accommodate my gut on the return. Dont get me wrong, I make it work every single day because it’s the only cardio workout I enjoy… but to be in a boat with other people it would be a huge struggle to keep up with them and my experience with team sports has taught me that girls like me are NOT welcome because we slow chit down .

    1. Jessica Sakka

      Lol water ROWER not tower. Stupid autocorrect

  5. Keri

    My daughter who is 5’4″ and weighs 126 lbs. was kicked off her Jr Rowing team because they said she was too fat to be a coxswain and too short to be a rower. This sport has some major problems with accessibility for otherwise less stereotypical rowers. This was her high school team and these girls should be able to row competitively no matter what the body shape or size may be– it a love for the sport

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