Dragon Boat Racing Is The (Super Fun) Workout You Never Knew You Needed

Photo via iStock.

The Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival is here! On May 21 and 22, dragon boat racers from around the world will set out on the Potomac to vie for first place in the competition.

Sponsored by the Chinese Women’s League of Washington, D.C., the two-day festival features dragon boat racing but also includes performances and cultural activities. And the best part is—it’s free. So gather up the kids and head out to the Thompson Boat Center for some family friendly fun. The center is located between Georgetown Waterfront Park and the Watergate Complex. The closest metro stop is Foggy Bottom-GWU and, from there, it’s a short walk to the festivities that even the little ones can handle.

If you like what you see this weekend, consider joining the D.C. Dragon Boat Club. This non-profit organization aims to bring the age-old tradition of dragon boat racing to the people of NOVA. Dragon boat racing is a sport with a lot of history. It’s been around for more than 2,500 years and can be traced back to ancient China, where paddlers raced on the Yangtze River.

Not only is it a great practice, but it’s also a killer workout. Racing is a hardcore upper body toner—you’ll be rocking your arms, back, shoulders and chest during each practice.

And, while it’s a challenging exercise, beginners are certainly welcome. Anyone can participate in this group activity. Just sign up ahead of time on the D.C. Dragon Boat Club website. You get three free practice sessions before you’re asked to join. This gives you ample opportunity to try out (and fall in love with) dragon boat racing.

Beginner practices run every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and include a half hour warm up along with one hour out on the Potomac. So what are you waiting for? Head to the Gangplank Marina near the Waterfront Metro Station this weekend for your very own dragon boat racing experience and then mosey on over to the Thompson Boat Center to get some inspiration from the professionals!

Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato

Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato is a freelance science, health, and environment reporter based in Washington, DC, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, NPR, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and Nature.