Where to Learn to Row in and Around Philadelphia

Learn about the sport with these camps, courses and private lessons.

Learn to row in Philadelphia and beyond. / Photograph by Madeline Kuntz courtesy of Philadelphia City Rowing.

If you’ve ever strolled along Kelly Drive, you’ve probably looked longingly at a rower gracefully paddling the Schuylkill. Deceptively serene, the exercise is actually ridiculously effective. Rowing is a full body workout that engages your core, legs, back, shoulders and arms to propel your boat through the water. The wide range of motion increases flexibility and the lack of pounding on the pavement will give your joints a break.

If you’re ready for a new routine, here’s where to learn to row in and around Philadelphia.

Barge Singles Club

When: Schedules are established between the student and the instructor.
Or: # 6 row of boathouses
Cost: $15 to $60 per hour, plus the cost of membership

This club offers private adult lessons for beginners and new members. Here you can buy a la carte courses after paying your membership fee. New members will be trained privately by a coach for five or six lessons, and then they will be evaluated for higher placement and training.

Rowing BLJ

When: In progress
Or: 2200 Kelly Drive
Cost: Annual membership fee of $325, with prices for individual sessions varying by program. Their Learn to Row event is free and requires no membership.

The first black-owned and operated rowing organization in the nation, BLJ Rowing strives to make rowing an accessible sport in Philadelphia. At $35 per class, join in-room occupational therapy classes. Do you feel comfortable enough to go out on the water? Young novice programs are available, as well as corporate teamwork programs. However, BLJ’s Learn to Row event is a free must-attend event for everyone, especially those with little or no experience.

Cooper Rowing Club

When: Summer sessions run from May to September.
Or: 7050 North Park Drive, Pennsauken, New Jersey
Cost: $365

If you live in South Jersey and are tired of rowing across the bridge, head to the Cooper Rowing Club, which meets at the Camden County Boathouse. The club’s Learn-to-Row program is open to adults – no experience required – and includes six two-hour lessons.

Crescent Boat Club

When: The novice program begins on Monday June 24 and ends on Thursday July 25.
Or: # 5 row of boathouses
Cost: $600

The Crescent Boat Club is dedicated to improving the skills of a wide variety of rowers. With programs ranging from intermediate development to beginner courses, there is something for everyone here. For those with no rowing experience, you will learn the basics of the sport Monday to Thursday from 8am to 11am from late June to July.

Penn AC Rowing Association

When: TBA dates, and will be posted here.
Or: # 12 row of boathouses
Cost: $325

Have you ever crossed the Schuylkill River, seen the rowers and wished it was you? Make that wish come true with Penn AC learn to row Classes. You don’t have to be a Penn AC member to participate, and everyone is welcome, regardless of skill level. You will focus on fundamental rowing skills including boat handling, sculling basics and boathouse etiquette.

Philadelphia Adaptive Rowing

When: May to October; 5:30 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Or: 1233 Martin Luther King Jr Driveway
Cost: Contact BY

As a member of Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports, Philadelphia Adaptive Rowing is said to be the oldest adaptive rowing program in the world, offering athletes with disabilities the opportunity to get out on the water and learn the ins and outs of the sport. Many PAR rowers end up competing in the BAYADA Regatta, held every August in Philadelphia, and leading the Schuylkill Regatta in October. To get started, contact BY here.

Philadelphia City Rowing

When: Registration opens in late July/early August for fall programs and programs begin the week after Labor Day. Registration for the summer camp will be announced soon.
Or: Lloyd Hall, #1 Boathouse Row
Cost: Free

Philadelphia City Rowing is here to turn your middle and high school kids into rowing pros. According to the program, the PCR meets on the Schuylkill several times a week for sessions. The college program meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for two-hour sessions; while high school students meet five days a week for two hours. PCR also offers two to three week summer camps for up to 60 children per session.

Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club

When: Summer dates TBD, but training program typically begins after Memorial Day.
Or: #14 Kelly Drive, Boathouse Row
Cost: An adult-novice rowing membership is $550, plus a $250 initiation fee.

Although this club offers an all-female novice program for all ages, it is not intended for casual rowing enthusiasts – the club requires you to join as a member (it’s selective), and you will need to introduce you to three-hour classes. , Three days per week. But if you’re serious about learning, you’ll have the option of joining the club’s other rowing programs after completing the six- to eight-week training period. The club is open to novices once a year (end of May). Start dates vary, so check with the club to find out when the next program will be available.

Rowing 101 at Lloyd Hall

When: Summer dates to be determined
Or: Lloyd Hall, #1 Boathouse Row
Cost: To be determined

You’ll get four two-hour sessions on the water in this course designed for adult beginners and intermediate rowers, so there’s no need to worry about not being able to keep up. Pricing and dates will be announced shortly, so keep an eye out on the website. For teenagers, Lloyd Hall offers a two week rowing camp for students aged 13 to 17 starting July 5 ($25).

Line area

When: Times vary, but there are usually four to six classes per day
Or: 4401 Main Street, Manayunk
Cost: $20 per lesson; memberships available

If you don’t feel confident enough to take to the water but still want the benefits of a rowing workout, try a class at RowZone. The 45-minute ergometer workout claims to blast up to 800 calories, build lean muscle, increase core strength and flexibility, and increase endurance. The Manayunk-based rowing studio offers indoor, outdoor and virtual classes to fit your schedule.

Whitemarsh Yacht Club

When: All year
Or: Hines Rowing Center, 801 Washington St., Conshohocken
Cost: Memberships vary by program

Whitemarsh Boat Club is an inclusive club that caters to a wide range of rowers (ages 11-100). They coach young athletes who want to compete in college, provide breast cancer survivors with space to exercise and have fun together, and offer older rowers the opportunity to engage their muscles and live their passion.

Wilmington Rowing Center

When: May to June. See session dates here.
Or: 501 A Street, Wilmington, Delaware
Cost: $300

Test the waters at the Wilmington Rowing Center on the Christina River, where each summer they offer a beginner’s course to prepare you for smooth cruising in the fall. the Learn to Row Program consists of six two-hour sessions where you’ll learn safety training, boat handling and proper swimming form, then join more experienced rowers in an eight-person hull on the water.

Private lessons

For an introduction to the sport without the long-term commitment or pressure of a group class, seek personal instruction. Many Boathouse members and coaches are willing to provide private lessons upon request. Two equally competent coaches:

Olympic rower and member of the US Rowing Hall of Famer John Riley certainly has the credentials to bring you up to speed. He offers private lessons seven days a week and times are flexible to suit your schedule. The cost of lessons ranges from $85 to $100 and you depart from the boathouse at the Penn Athletic Club. To arrange a session, contact him at 267-971-8336.

Jeff Cutler is a Malta Yacht Club rower offering group or private sculling lessons (where one person handles two oars instead of just one) for around $60 per session. “Everything is provided. All the person needs to bring to the boathouse is themselves,” Cutler explains. To book a lesson, call him at 215-776-2447.

This guide has been updated and includes additional reports from Louis Platt.