Kayak Training Machine


This winter, I have kicked my athletic training into high gear. In February, I am traveling to Chile to captain a team in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, an ultra-endurance event through Tierra del Fuego. The multi-day race will include long treks, mountain bike segments, climbing, and sea kayaking in icy ocean waters at the tip of the South American continent. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. I want to be prepared.

Patagonia Race Kayak Photo 3.jpg

Scene from Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race 2009

To get serious about the kayaking sections in the race, for the past three months I have been sitting on a machine in my basement “paddling” for an hour at a stretch. The Kayak Ergometer, an esoteric exercise machine made by Vasa Inc. of Essex Junction, Vt., has a paddle-like shaft to grip, a contoured seat, foot braces, and a flywheel drive that gives resistance with each pulled stroke.

The machine mimics the kayaking experience better than anything I have tried. My strengthened abs, shoulders and arms are testimony to the Ergometer’s efficiency in whipping a body into paddling shape.

Vasa Kayak Machine Photo.jpg

Vasa Inc. Kayak Ergometer

The Kayak Ergometer, priced a hefty $1,999 at www.vasatrainer.com, debuted in 2007 with foot braces and a bench seat. New for this winter, Vasa adds a kayak seat option. Called the K1 Swivel Seat, the new feature better matches the feel of being in a boat. I tested an early prototype; the final product comes to market on February 1, a few days before I depart for Patagonia.

Using the Vasa unit now for a couple months, I have come to like the sound of the machine: Pull a stroke with the paddle shaft and you force air through the flywheel fan. The quiet noise and moving air conjure waves and natural movement on a lake.

The resistance is even throughout the whole stroke, making for an accurate substitute to pulling a paddle blade through water. There are varying levels of resistance to set, letting you simulate paddling down-river or upstream against a current.

Vasa Kayak Seat Photo.jpg

Optional K1 Swivel Seat

A small digital monitor displays your time, distance, pace, and power output in watts. It can measure right and left arm force individually, letting you adjust technique if one side overpowers.

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Commenting on post : Kayak Training Machine
Posted by Ian Hoag - 12/28/2009 01:09 PM

I spent many hours practicing kayak paddling on a rowing machine while deployed to Afghanistan. This machine seems like it should get even closer than the rowing machine. However, I would be really impressed if someone could design a machine that also gives you resistance to pushing with your top hand.

Posted by Dan - 12/28/2009 02:23 PM

Before you dive into the Vasa, I suggest you research the PaddleONE kayak ergometer. I own a PaddleONE machine and love it. The difference is cost and size. The PaddleONE machine is just over $1,000 and is very compact and easily fits into many home’s rooms. Although the PaddleONE computer is not as sophisticated, the reduced cost and compact size more than made up for the difference.

Research before you buy.


Posted by Bobby Hayes - 12/28/2009 03:03 PM

In reply to Ian regarding the resistance for the “push” part of paddling: I have been a serious K1 kayak racer in years past and, after testing several kayak ergs, including PaddleOne, KayakPro, the Vasa Kayak Erg and Dansprint paddling erg, I found the Vasa Kayak Erg to be the best in value and performance by a lot. One of the deciding factors for me in buying the Vasa Erg was the fact that you can get a realistic push phase, both in “normal” paddling position PLUS if you turn around on the seat bench and face backwards, you can really work on the push phase in a “recovery stroke motion. My Vasa model has seen heavy use by me and paddling buddies for the last 23 months with absolutely no sign of wear or any problems. One added value for us is my wife is a triathlete and she uses it for swim training by simply removing the foot brace, paddle shaft and replacing the paddle shaft with the swim paddles that you can get. I use the handles to do some shoulder injury prevention exercises, too. Yeah, mine cost $1900, but it has been one of the best investments I have yet to make for sports training gear outside of my VanDusen.

Posted by jpea - 12/28/2009 06:18 PM

I’ve sea kayaked a decent amount and tried the Vasa out once and was simply amazed at how well it emulated the kickback feeling when you pull one side of your paddle out of the water. I never would have guessed that a machine would be able to get the flip/tension right, but this one felt great. Put a big screen in front of you with some wavy open water and you’re ready :)

Posted by Merryl See Tai - 12/30/2009 04:58 PM

I reply to Ian Hoag, a rowing machine does not mimic the action of paddling. A paddling machine with the load/pull cords attached to the ends of the shaft automatically provides the load to your top hand.

Rowers go backward – Paddlers go forward.

Posted by christian Levesque - 01/07/2010 03:10 PM

They should make it compatible with the Wii ! That would be awesome.

Posted by Dr. Glenn B. Gero - 01/09/2010 12:32 AM

Any other indoor kayak machine is rudimentary compared to the Vasa Ergometer. I own a VasaTrainer and an Ergometer and the resistance on the Vasa Erg mimics the feel of being in the water. I am also a sculler and both the Vasa Ergometer and the VasaTrainer are great cross-training devices for my rowing. As a naturopathic physician I’ve created many functional movements that can be performed on both units. When you purchase a Vasa, you are getting the benefit of having many machines that work the body from a myriad of planes of motion. You cannot achieve this on any other indoor kayak machine on the market. If you’re looking to make an investment in a quality piece of exercise equipment, Vasa should be near the top of the list. I’ve had my Erg for about 5 years and still have the same level of enthusiasm as the day I purchased it.

Posted by paddlingOtaku - 02/19/2013 09:39 PM

As a long distance expedition kayaker I have to say I am skeptical that this machine can really emulate the push aspects of paddling. Though I am impressed by the paddlers that have already commented that it does. How exactly can you push a ‘paddle shaft’ that is connected to a cable drawing resistance in front of you?

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