Overshadowed by rows of treadmills and ellipticals, the rower is vertically challenged, usually solitary and often consigned to a dark corner of the gym.

But experts say if you take time to explore this machine, you'll discover a smooth operator that's easy on the joints and endowed with a powerful burn.

"It's probably the best piece of workout equipment in the gym," said Dr Timothy Hosea of the American College of Sports Medicine.

"It's a total fitness machine. Unlike running, where you use your legs, you exercise every major muscle group in the body in a smooth, controlled manner."

Hosea, an orthopedic surgeon based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has rowed since college. He said the rowing machine actually burns more energy per hour than running or swimming.

"The average person can easily burn 700 to 750 calories per hour going at a pretty moderate pace," he said.

So why is the rower ignored?

There's the learning curve. In the gym physical prowess rules, but the rowing machine requires patience.

"It takes time to learn proper technique," Hosea said. "It looks really easy but people don't know how to row in an efficient manner, so tend to avoid that machine."

Power in rowing comes from the legs, Hosea said, but many people think it depends more on the arms and back. "They get discombobulated if they don't understand that you drive with the legs first." Another mistake, is putting so much resistance on the machine that core strength is compromised, and the lower back is stressed. Quite often this reason alone can be why some avoid the rower.

To learn more about improving your rowing technique don’t hesitate to contact Zoom Fitness.

Article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.