National champion offers rowing classes

TANGLETOWN — Dori Johnson is a U.S. National Champion in rowing, and she moved to Minneapolis in 1997 so her husband, also a rower, could train for the 2000 Olympics. So she is awfully qualified to teach new “RowSculpt” classes at Tangletown CrossFit, 4632 Nicollet Ave. 

“It will be interesting to see how this takes off,” said Johnson. 

You may have already spotted Johnson out on the water at Lake Nokomis or Lake Harriet last summer — she started “Paddle Sculpt” this classes this year, in which participants stand on boards and paddle out into the middle of the lakes for push-ups, sit-ups and paddling exercises that work the core. By the end of the summer, Johnson joked that she was “farmer strong” from schlepping boards in and out of her Yukon for class. 

Johnson’s new hour-long indoor rowing classes teach efficient paddle strokes that create a full-body workout, stressing several muscle groups. The classes also use other parts of the gym to break up the workout. 

Johnson has a background in human resources. But as her young children started school, she was less than excited about heading back to an office environment. 

“I’m trying to make it work this way,” she said. 

Rowing classes are a local novelty at the moment, but they could become more common: an indoor rowing studio recently opened in an Atlanta suburb, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that rowing is becoming a nationwide trend in group fitness. 

Five-week sessions start Nov. 12. Instructors include Johnson and her husband, as well as James Dundon, a Southwest High School teacher. Dundon coaches the school’s Nordic Ski Team, and also coaches and competes with the Minneapolis Rowing Club. For more information, visit