Chances are you’ve seen someone stroking it out at the gym and wanted to yourself.

We’re talking about the rowing machine… geez!

While it used to be more of a specialty thing, the rower (also known as the erg) is actually an awesome fitness contraption found in almost all commercial gyms now, and some people even have them in their homes (thank you, Frank Underwood).

So how do you get on board and actually get a kickass workout? We asked Sarah Crane, a coach at New York City’s Row House, for her top tips. Read on for everything you need to know about this burgeoning trend.

You can burn around 210 calories in 30 minutes rowing at a moderate pace. Just imagine how many more you’ll burn if you’re crushing it with each stroke.

Why
Contrary to popular belief, rowing well isn’t about arm strength. While you are pulling the handle throughout the entire stroke, you’re technically only actively using your arms for a moment. Your legs play a critical role—setting the tone for the entire stroke—and a strong core helps the movement flow.

“Rowing works everything,” explains Crane. “It definitely is a great upper body workout, but your core gets involved, too, and your legs need to produce a lot of power. So in the end, you’ll have experienced a full-body workout.”

Additionally, the erg can make for an incredible cardiovascular workout. According to the Harvard Health Publications, you can burn around 210 calories in 30 minutes rowing at a moderate pace. Just imagine how many more you’ll burn if you’re crushing it with each stroke.

Got knee issues? Rowing is a perfect low-impact solution. “There’s no pounding on your joints,” notes Crane. “You stay level on the erg with a lot of fluidity, and it may even help you strengthen the muscles around the knee.”

How
Form, with all exercise, matters hugely on the rower. The order in which you push, pull, bend, extend, etc., does make a difference.

After sitting down on the seat, adjust the foot pads to your size. As you strap your feet in, bend your knees so you can grab hold of the handle. This position is known as the catch. “From here you want to think legs, core, then arms,” says Crane. First, push from your legs to lengthen them out. Next, use your core to lean back so you’re no longer sitting upright but at an angle. Lastly, use your arms to pull the handle into your chest. Then reverse: arms, core, legs and start the catch again.

If you feel your entire body working, and not just your arms, you’ll know you’re doing it right. You might even find that your ass is a bit sore the next day! “I get the most satisfaction as an instructor when someone leaves and says they had a great full-body workout—and didn’t even know it was possible just from rowing,” raves Crane.

Try
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to give it a whirl. Sit and strap into the rower and take a minute or two to warm up, getting comfortable with the stroke. Then try this 10-minute interval workout from Crane. You can use this as a cardio warm-up before hitting the weight rack, or repeat it twice through to really hit your cardio.

60-second easy row

40 seconds on (rowing hard)

20 seconds rest (rowing slow to recover)

40 seconds on

20 seconds rest

40 seconds on

20 seconds rest

60 seconds on

20 seconds rest

60 seconds on

20 seconds rest

60 seconds on

20 seconds rest

90-second all-out row