Hot Seat: Rower Linda Hannum

Linda Hannum (2nd from left) with her Northampton Community Rowing crew.
Linda Hannum (2nd from left) with her Northampton Community Rowing crew.

Not long after turning 50, Linda Hannum bought a raffle ticket to support a friend’s rowing club. Little did she know that within a few months she’d have completed an indoor learn to row program. Now 58, Linda – a Health and Wellness Coach with Isagenix and owner of Salon Herdis in Northampton, MA – is hooked on rowing and sees the sport as an incubator for trust and personal growth.

Current rowing club affiliation + number of seasons there:

Northampton Community Rowing since 2011.

How did you get involved with rowing?

My friend Sally Linowski sold me a raffle ticket to help support her team and I asked her if she would show me how to row – she gave me some lessons on her erg and I was hooked! I started rowing at an indoor learn to row program held at the Smith College women’s indoor rowing facility in the winter of 2011 and have never looked back!

How has rowing changed you?

It’s all about personal growth! I was very athletic in high school having earned 11 varsity letters but nothing really prepared me for this kind of team sport! It is so difficult to achieve the “perfect stroke” when there are four or eight people in the boat – every single stroke is different from the one before it and the one following. In the final analysis it comes down to trust*; trust yourself, trust each other, trust your coxswain, trust your coach, and finally trust (and love) your boat!

(*Linda is married to Kristi Nelson, the Executive Director of If you are interested in learning more about trust, grateful living, and mindfulness, visit A Network for Grateful Living.)

Do you prefer sprints or head races? Why?

This is a hard one! I love sprint races because of the total and immediate immersion in the race – it’s over before you know it and it can be so fun and fast and furious! And, head races are more of a “head” race for me – there is time to think and to respond and to feel the boat and to really work together as a team to walk on another boat – the feedback is not instant and the sprint really is just you against your best time.

What is your most memorable race?

My very first race was in 2011 and it was a total riot! Right in the middle of the race I couldn’t remember which hand to feather with so I just did it with both hands. As a result I caught a crab – maybe a giant Alaskan King Crab – and the rower behind me yelled “just keep rowing” which I did. Still trying to remember which hand to feather with! 

Have you ever caught an ejector crab?

Never an ejector crab – but one in a race (see previous question).

What’s your guilty pleasure after a regatta?

Truthfully, I love making a protein shake right away…. then it’s a very cold beer! 

Who/what inspires you?

In rowing, I would have to say my coach – she really understands each person’s strengths and their opportunities for growth and does a great job working with a team of powerful women who each have their own challenges and goals. Also, my good friends who I get to row with really inspire me to better my best every day! 

What’s the best piece of rowing/training advice you ever received?

Keep your head in the boat, and let the boat run underneath you – never recover up the slide faster than water is moving on either side of you.

When not rowing, what’s your favorite thing to do?

I am loving helping other people get healthy as a Health and Wellness Coach. It really moves me to watch someone literally transform their health right before my eyes! Their energy and smile and outlook on life make it all worth it!

Tell us something about you that we don’t already know.

I was a music major in college. I play the trumpet and was the drum major of the UMass Marching Band! I actually won a Gong Show in a bar one night by playing jazz on two trumpets at once … don’t ask, don’t tell.