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Hydrow Founder on George Clooney Film Deal: ‘It’s a Crazy Dream’

Hydrow Founder on George Clooney Film Deal: ‘It’s a Crazy Dream’

Connected rowing company Hydrow is launching a special workout series inspired by “The Boys in the Boat”

Hydrow, a connected fitness rowing company that has attracted numerous notable investors including Travis Kelce, Lizzo, Justin Timberlake, Aaron Rodgers and Whitney Cummings, has now teamed up with an upcoming George Clooney-directed film, “The Boys in the Boat,” to deliver themed rowing workouts for Hydrow members.

The partnership is deeply personal for Hydrow founder and CEO Bruce Smith, who has had success as a rowing champion and U.S. National Team coach. He founded the Boston-based at-home rowing company in 2017, delivering a full-body workout that promises to exercise 86% of major muscle groups in a twenty-minute session.

“It’s like a crazy dream,” Smith said of having an A-lister like Clooney choose to direct a rowing movie and his brand becoming involved with the film.

Bruce Smith (credit: Hydrow)

Based on a New York Times bestselling non-fiction novel by Daniel James Brown, MGM’s “The Boys in the Boat” tells the inspiring story of the University of Washington rowing team that competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Both the film and Hydrow’s special “The Boys in the Boat” workouts, which include on-site content from the University of Washington and all-star UW alumni, will be released on December 25. 

“It’s been something that we’ve been tracking for a really long time,” Smith told Athletech News. “The book was such a stunningly great, great book, and we knew it would make a great movie.”

“We’ve been tracking since the very earliest days,” Smith added, noting that Hydrow reached out early to become involved. 

A Different Type of Rowing Story

The story’s characters, says Smith, blow away the typical stereotypes of rowers.

“They’re not from rich families. They didn’t row in high school and then go to St. Paul’s or Exeter or some prep school with a long history of rowing,” he said. “It was kids who grew up as farmers in pretty dire circumstances and it follows their journey to become rowers. I think it’s a really great way to show just how accessible rowing really is.”

The point of accessibility is one that Smith says he’s spent his entire adult life trying to make people understand — that rowing is for everyone. With the release of “The Boys in the Boat,” he believes that messaging will resonate with audiences and have a broad impact.

Full Circle for Hydrow

The creation of the film has also had an impact on Dani Hansen, a rower and lead athlete at Hydrow who rowed at the University of Washington, the same school featured in the film. As a college athlete, she would walk under the famous boat used by the UW rowing team that inspired the film, which was suspended in the boathouse. 

“So she’s been part of that community, and then she is part of the Hydrow story, too,”  Smith said of Hansen, the first Paralympian to row at the Olympics from the University of Washington. “Several of our other athletes have made workouts that tell the story of the book and also the University of Washington crew and movie.”

The film features scenery from around the University of Washington, with what Smith says is an exact replica of the shell house, an historic building on UW’s campus.

“We do a lot of workouts in the shell house,” Smith said. “I get goosebumps talking about it because it is this incredibly connected story, and the story of ‘Boys in the Boat’ is the story of Hydrow.”

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“It’s this amazingly connected story, and it’s bringing that experience into people’s homes under their Hydrows… we’re so excited about it,” Smith said, adding that some of the upcoming workouts are out on the water and others are in the boathouse in Washington.

credit: Hydrow

New Partnerships & Products

As Hydrow closes out the year with a rowing-inspired story on the silver screen and a special workout series, the company is looking ahead to 2024 with additional partnerships on the horizon and new products to announce soon — ones that reside in the strength category.

“Ultimately, rowing isn’t about rowing,” Smith said. “It’s about full health and community, and we’ll be bringing more products into the world that will help people feel better and build community, so we’re very excited about the future.” 

Hydrow is also rumored to be in talks to acquire rival connected fitness brand CityRow, although the company is remaining mum. 

While Smith is hopeful “Boys in the Boat” moves some viewers to explore rowing, he’s also content that the fascinating true-life period piece is a feel-good story.

“It’s a ray of sunshine in a world that desperately needs some sunshine,” Smith said, “It’s a really positive story about what is possible when people come together with a shared goal and try their best. And to me, that’s a message that we all need to hear, like multiple times a day these days, with what’s going on in the world.”

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