On Love and Rowing

by Maggie Simpson

The first time I met Don and Juanita was one of my first classes as a new instructor. I was new to RowClub, new to the cozy studio in the bustling financial district, new to the athletes that would develop their muscles as I developed my coaching skills.

I was nervous until Don and Juanita descended the stairs into the basement studio, bouncing down with more energy than one would expect from anyone at 6:45am on a Wednesday morning. It’s difficult to describe what exactly it was about Juanita’s wide and Don’s wry smiles that made me feel ready to take on the world, but after having the two of them in my class, I knew that RowClub was a perfect fit for me.

Juanita started coming to RowClub almost three years ago, after looking for an indoor rowing workout in the Bay Area. Juanita has lived a very active life, playing volleyball from the 5th grade through college, and since then always finding new ways to move. Juanita has done every type of workout, from free weights to spin classes to marathons, and she currently uses RowClub and Zumba as her main fitness adventures. Juanita dragged Don to RowClub one month after her first class, and the rest was history. Don says playfully to Juanita, “you’re the athlete,” speaking of her constant desire to improve herself.

Don and Juanita have known each other for 30 year; Juanita worked as a police dispatcher and Don as a police officer, and they used to always meet for coffee as they rotated through their jobs. They kept up their friendship through years until Don retired. Don says that getting coffee with Juanita became the part of his day that he most looked forward to, thus revealing a growing love.

Besides taking classes at RowClub, Juanita and Don enjoy people watching. They often find a sitting place in a bustling district and make up stories together about the people that pass, from children running away from their parents to ‘fashion emergencies.’

Don and Juanita say their favorite part of RowClub is the full body workout and the dynamic instructors. They say they like that the instructors are not ‘cookie cutter,’ that each brings their own experience and is dedicated to improving technique. The people at RowClub also become Don and Juanita’s RowBuddies- regulars like Cindy, Paul, and now Alistair, all contribute to the family atmosphere that keep them waking up for the 7am classes.