Sketch of an Early Version of the Erg

History of Erging

According to multiple sources, including rowinghistory.net, the erg, or rowing machine, has existed since before the turn of the 20th century. The original machine used a ratchet system to provide resistance. In the 1950s and 1960s resistance was created by using a brake caliper on a spinning wheel.

By the 1980s companies like Concept2 had developed a machine that used a flywheel and air resistance.

The erg gained popularity as a land training tool for rowers. In climates that prevent winter rowing, the erg is an essential part of training. As time went on a rowing subculture developed around the erg. The erg is now a workout tool used by rowers and athletes everywhere. While some improvements have been implemented, the slide, seat and flywheel design have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s.