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The Best Rowing Machines

Where Can You Find the Best Rowing Machines?

Rowing machines, or "rowers," have swiftly sailed into the mainstream fitness world, gaining traction as a one-stop solution for a comprehensive workout. They're not just about the sport of rowing anymore; they're about sculpting your body, boosting your cardio, and getting fit in a fun way. Rowing machines provide an all-in-one workout, working the legs, back, arms, and core.

So it should come as no surprise that rowing machines have become so popular. With rowing, you can elevate your heart rate and improve endurance without stepping outside. What's more, rowing is gentle on your knees and joints, thanks to the smooth motion and the seated position. The resistance can be adjusted to tailor the session - amp up the intensity for a challenge or keep it light and steady.

Friday, June 21st

2024 Rowing Machine Reviews

Concept2 Review 4.5 Star Rating

Concept2

4.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Air resistance
  • Price Range: $990 to $1,375
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: No
  • Return Policy: 30 days, shipping not included
  • Warranty: 5 years for frame, 2 years for parts
  • Shipping: $55-105 in lower 48 United States, higher elsewhere

Concept2 is a well-known brand in the indoor rowing industry, having been around since 1981. Initially developed for competitive rowers, the machines soon became popular with athletes across various disciplines because of the comprehensive workout they provide. Over the years, Concept2 has become a global leader in rowing machines, known for blending quality with affordability.

Try a rower near you

The widespread popularity of Concept2 is undeniable, with clubs, teams, and home gym enthusiasts vouching for the machines' exceptional workouts, reliability, and durability. If you're considering adding a rowing machine to your collection, Concept2's RowErg Finder lets you try before you buy. This handy tool allows you to input your location and discover nearby Concept2 equipment. When we tried it, we found Concept2 machines in local facilities like Anytime Fitness, Gold's Gym, YMCA, Crossfit, as well as some medical clinics and schools.

Performance monitor connects to your apps

The Performance Monitor on the Concept2 rowing machine offers practical features for users. The monitor provides real-time feedback on your performance and accumulates data over multiple sessions. Its self-calibrating feature ensures accurate stroke, interval, and workout comparisons, which can be valuable for tracking your progress. The Performance Monitor also connects via Bluetooth to a range of apps, so it can be integrated with other tools and platforms, including Zwift, ansensei, imersU Row, FIIT, Regatta, and Kinomap, and Concept2's own app, ErgData.

Nitty-gritty performance breakdowns

The ErgData app by Concept2 is a comprehensive training and analysis tool. At the heart of its features is the "Workout of the Day," which not only challenges you daily but also lets you see your rank on a global leaderboard. Setting up your workout is a breeze: create your regimen on your phone, and it appears on the Performance Monitor like magic. ErgData doesn't stop at workout creation. It allows users to dive deep into their performance, offering detailed post-workout analyses, showcasing interval and split data, pace and stroke graphs, and even insights into time spent in each heart rate zone.

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Compete against other athletes

For those who thrive on community, ErgData lets you row side-by-side with peers on a virtual course known as the Real Time Loop. Syncing your progress is effortless, as the app integrates smoothly with popular platforms like Strava, Garmin Connect, and even the Apple Watch. The adjustable device holder on the rower ensures your phone or tablet remains within easy reach while participating in its ErgRace Online feature, where you can either craft your own race or dive into someone else's, effectively racing with enthusiasts from anywhere in the world. And for the meticulous planner, the app even lets you store favorite workouts.

3 flywheel-damper rowers

Concept2 offers three models of air resistance rowing machines. You can adjust the airflow by using the damper on the side of the flywheel - the higher the setting, the more air gets in, and the harder you'll need to row.

Standard model is affordable and popular

RowErg with Standard Legs: The go-to choice for indoor rowing competitions, this model, priced at $990, is standard for indoor rowing competitions and is often used by clubs and teams. Its seat height is 14" , so it sits low to the ground.

Model with higher seat available

RowErg with Tall Legs: Ideal for those who might find the standard seat height challenging due to mobility constraints, this model, priced at $1,155, provides a 20" seat height but otherwise shares the same features of its standard sibling.

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Dynamic model offers true-to-life rowing feel

Dynamic RowErg: Geared towards on-water athletes, this $1,375 model will provide a different rowing feel. Unlike traditional rowing machines, this model mimics the sensation of rowing in a lightweight boat by allowing the feet to slide instead of the seat. One satisfied rower wrote, "It is easier to identify and correct bad technique, because I am staying in the same spot, not sliding back and forth." Its compact footprint is a bonus for those short on floor space.

Easy assembly & storage

Setting up the first two RowErg models is simple. You just need to attach the front legs, and the package comes with all the tools you need and a helpful video guide. Most people can get it done in 20 to 30 minutes. Once your rower is put together, if you need to store it away, the quick-release framelock allows it to split easily into two parts. Plus, it has wheels on the front, so it's easy to maneuver. The Dynamic model has a smaller footprint than the RowErg models, but it does not separate in the middle for storage.

2 year warranty for RowEg rowers

Concept2's RowErg machines, both standard and tall, come with a two-year warranty that covers part failures, excluding monitor batteries. This warranty is transferable and mandates routine maintenance for validity, including chain lubrication every 50 hours of use and monorail cleaning. Cosmetic damage, shipping, and installation labor aren't covered. An extended five-year warranty also covers numerous parts from the rear leg to all screws and bolts.

5 year warranty for Dynamic model

For the Dynamic model, a five-year limited warranty protects frame parts from material or craftsmanship defects. This is also transferable, and, like the RowErg, requires regular maintenance for chain and monorail. Cosmetic damage and associated fees are outside the coverage scope, with all machine parts (excluding monitor batteries and handle drive cord) safeguarded for the first two years.

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Ships to Alaska and Hawaii

Should you decide to bring a Concept2 into your home, the company offers robust shipping options covering the US, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. Prices for shipping vary based on the model and location: for those residing in the lower 48 US states, RowErg shipping costs range from $55 to $105. Meanwhile, Canadian shipments fall between $100 and $180. Good news for Alaska and Hawaii residents: while many rower retailers don't serve these locations, shipping is available at rates between $175 and $355. A quick tip: the RowErg with Standard Legs tends to be the most cost-effective for shipping as it's packaged in a single box, whereas the Dynamic, being housed in two boxes, incurs a slightly higher shipping fee. For international customers outside these regions, Concept2 provides a list of contacts.

Return policy is fair

Concept2's return policy is very reasonable. If for any reason you aren't satisfied with your purchase, you can return it and get your money back, although the customer covers the shipping costs. You won't have to pay a restocking fee, though.

Sail into a new lifestyle

Whether you're an elite athlete or just starting your fitness journey, Concept2 has solidified its place as a dependable choice in the world of indoor rowing. With its long history and diverse machine options, it's clear why many are smitten with this brand. These rowers might not be the most budget-friendly, but they undoubtedly deliver in terms of quality and performance, all thanks to the brand's years of expertise. And for those familiar with the Concept2 experience from their local gyms or studios, these rowers can feel like a comfortable extension of their workout routine. Indeed, with Concept2, you're not just getting a machine - you're joining a community dedicated to the joy of rowing. Concept2 earns our top rating.

Hydrow Review 4.5 Star Rating

Hydrow

4.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Magnetic
  • Price Range: $1,895 to $2,495
  • Different Models: 2
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 5 year frame, 1 year components and labor
  • Shipping: Free

Hydrow is a brand of connected rowing machines that has seen a marked rise in popularity in the fitness market, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when home workouts became the new norm. The man behind the company, Bruce Smith, brings a rich legacy to the brand with a history steeped in rowing - from being a championship-winning rower himself and coaching the U.S. National Team, to his ancestral roots in a legendary rowing family with a great grandfather who crafted the first sliding seats in racing shells.

Regarded among the best

In the connected fitness market, Hydrow often gets compared to other brands like Peloton and the Concept2 rower. While Concept2 has been a gold standard for rowing purists for years, Hydrow tries to differentiate itself with its connected features, live classes, and a more modern design. Hydrow has two rowing machines for sale: the simply-named Hydrow, and the more compact Hydrow Wave.

The Hydrow: functional modern art

With its sleek, attractive aluminum frame that echoes the curve of a wave, the Hydrow rowing machine is so aesthetically pleasing that it could be considered a piece of modern art - you might find you want to keep it on display even when you're not using it. This machine is a fantastic option for both seasoned rowers with many nautical miles under their belts, and for those just beginning their rowing journey. Expert-led videos are a key feature, offering valuable tips on the basics of form and technique. The machine boasts a 22-inch HD touchscreen with integrated speakers, and the screen can pivot for viewing during yoga or strength workouts available in the expansive video library.

Silent, magnetic resistance

The Hydrow utilizes magnetic resistance, which means it's nearly silent. For added convenience, this machine is compatible with both the Apple Watch and Strava. With respect to storage, the Hydrow can be positioned upright, though this requires purchasing the $80 Upright Storage Kit and performing some setup. For all of these features and its quality design, we think the $2,495 price tag is quite reasonable.

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The Hydrow Wave: compact and colorful

The Hydrow Wave is marketed as a more compact version of the original Hydrow, designed specifically for smaller living spaces. It is 30% smaller and lighter than its predecessor with a lightweight and durable frame, making it a convenient option for those with limited room. The machine comes with a 16-inch HD screen and is available in a variety of colors, including blue, black, green, yellow, and orange. Utilizing electromagnetic resistance, the Hydrow Wave operates silently and creates a smooth rowing experience. This rower costs $1,895.

Try for free

Both Hydrow models come with free standard shipping, allowing you to try the machine at home for 30 days. If it doesn't meet your expectations, the company will pick it up at no extra cost and refund the full amount you paid. And if you don't want to put your rower together yourself, Hydrow offers in-home assembly.

Users love them

Users of the Hydrow rowing machines give them high marks across the board. They highlight their sturdy build and sleek design and often mention the brand's excellent customer service. Many mentioned loving the broad range of workout videos available. A few users did mention setup challenges, suggesting Hydrow could make improvements in their packaging and assembly instructions. However, despite these minor hiccups, many are devoted to their daily workouts and highly recommend Hydrow rowers.

Get $100 off

As soon as we got to the website, we were greeted with a pop-up ad offering $100 off any Hydrow rower if you sign up for their marketing emails. Since you can always unsubscribe from these, that's money in the bank at no inconvenience to you.

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Personalized 2-week workout plan

Hydrow offers a quick quiz on their website to get a sense of your workout style and goals. This includes choosing the kind of instructor personality you prefer, with choices like passionate, motivational, fun, serious, energetic, and technical. Depending on your answers and experience level, you'll then be prompted to input your email. In return, they'll send you a tailored two-week workout plan and your $100 discount code, if you haven't already gotten it.

Video library isn't included in cost of machine

When considering the Hydrow rower, it's important to keep in mind that the machine's cost does not include access to their extensive video library. To fully unlock the potential of your Hydrow machine and make the most out of it, you should factor in the cost of a monthly membership in your budget.

Membership benefits

The Hydrow Membership offers an array of benefits:

  • Every workout session is guided by experienced Olympians and top-tier athletes, so you can be sure you're getting top-notch guidance.
  • The workouts transport you to real rowing locations worldwide, from the vibrant vibes of Rio to the serene waters of Loch Ness.
  • You gain unlimited family access to a growing library of over 4,000 workouts ranging from rowing to yoga and circuit training.
  • Experience the beauty of 100+ filming locations that bring a fresh, immersive experience to each session.
  • All these benefits come at a reasonable price of $44 per month, which is about the same as a mid-tier gym membership. You can pay monthly or pre-purchase a plan.
  • The membership also integrates live rowing sessions, thousands of on-demand workouts, diverse training programs like yoga and pilates, progress incentives, multiple user profiles, and a supportive community of fellow rowers. Plus, each rowing session you undertake contributes to a donation to water.org.

Great options even without the subscription

If you opt against the membership after purchasing the Hydrow rower, you'll be limited to the "Just Row" mode. This mode doesn't offer pre-recorded or free workout videos. Instead, you'll have adjustable drag and resistance settings, on-screen metrics during your workouts, Bluetooth connectivity for heart rate monitors, and access to basic "Hydrow 101" introductory videos. However, if you wish to access their full suite of offerings at a later date, you can always activate a subscription via the home screen.

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Good warranty

Hydrow offers a Home Use Limited Warranty at no extra cost for their rowers. It includes a 5-year warranty for the structural frame, 1 year for components, screen, and other electronics, and 1 year for labor.

Two thumbs up

Hydrow stands tall among veteran brands in the industry, even outshining them in certain aspects. We're big fans of their risk-free trial and the brand's rich lineage intertwined with the history of rowing. Their top-notch workout videos, shot in mesmerizing locations and led by elite athletes, are enough to pique the interest of even those unfamiliar with rowing. Hydrow's product range is refreshingly straightforward: one fully-equipped rower and a more streamlined version available in various colors. Both models promise high quality. To maximize your machine's potential, there's a $44 monthly fee, which, to be fair, is in line with other rowers offering video workouts. Bottom line? Hydrow is one of the best rowers you can get.

NordicTrack Review 4 Star Rating

NordicTrack

4 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Magnetic, combination Air + Magnetic
  • Price Range: $899 to $1,999
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 10 years frame, 2 years parts, 1 year labor
  • Shipping: Free

NordicTrack is a fitness equipment company that has been in business since 1975. If you've ever worked out in a commercial gym, chances are you've used a NordicTrack machine. They offer a range of fitness equipment, including treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals, and rowers, with built-in iFIT programs designed by expert trainers in the industry. These interactive programs cater to different fitness levels and goals and give users the opportunity to virtually experience various locations in HD.

3 models

NordicTrack's rower product line currently includes 3 options ranging from $1,999 on the high end to $899 on the low end. The middle model will run you $1,499. All three models are powered by silent magnetic resistance technology, feature iFIT workout programs, and are Bluetooth compatible. You'll also get the first 30 days of an iFIT trial for free, but it will cost $39 a month after that, so don't forget to cancel in time if you don't want to keep it.

iFIT will change the way you work out

What exactly is iFIT, though? With iFIT integration, users aren't just limited to static, repetitive workouts. Instead, they get a dynamic and interactive experience. This platform offers personalized workouts, virtual classes led by trainers, and even simulated real-world runs, rows, or bike rides where you virtually traverse scenic landscapes from around the world. The machine adjusts resistance, incline, or speed in real-time based on the terrain or the trainer's instructions, making for a more engaging and challenging session.

The difference is night and day

When you compare this to a machine without iFIT, the difference is night and day. Traditional machines might give you a solid physical workout, but they can't compete with the immersive, ever-changing, and tailored workouts of an iFIT-enabled machine. After all, half the battle of getting in shape is finding a way to move that you enjoy.

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Rw600: combination air and magnetic resistance

For $899, the RW600 features a 10" HD touchscreen and has 26 resistance levels. This rower uses a combination of magnetic and air resistance systems, which means you get the best of both worlds. Magnetic systems provide consistent resistance, while air rowers provide resistance that depends on your rowing intensity. With the RW600's combo resistance, you establish your baseline resistance with the magnetic system, and then the air resistance kicks in if you row harder and faster. This feature makes for a smooth rowing experience with plenty of resistance for most users. The RW600 can be folded away when not in use. Shipping for this model seems to be free.

RW700: quiet but costly

It's a big jump from $899 to $1,499, so we'd expect to see some serious bells and whistles on the RW700. It has a 10" HD touchscreen like the RW600, but this one can be tilted and pivoted so you can turn the screen to face outward into your workout space and follow along with iFIT's cardio, yoga, and strength routines. This model also has a 30 Watt Premium Sound System. The RW700 is a magnetic rower: the spinning flywheel and magnet system creates consistent resistance no matter how hard you pull and, unlike the RW600, which does make noise due to its additional air resistance system, the RW700 is nearly silent. Because it doesn't use a fan, the frame is a lot sleeker. However, it doesn't fold, so you'll need enough space to keep it on full display even when you're not using it. All in all, we don't see much more value in this model than its cheaper sibling, unless you're really into the higher quality sound system. Delivery appears to be free.

RW900: a bigger screen, but not much else

NordicTrack's top-of-the-line RW900 Rower is a silent magnetic resistance rower with 26 resistance levels. It comes with a free iFIT brand heart rate monitor and floor mat valued together at $148, which is a nice perk for the $1,999 price tag. The rower has a tilt-and-pivot 22" screen with a 30 watt sound system, and, like the RW700, it doesn't just show you rowing workouts - you can turn the screen away from the rower and follow iFIT's bodyweight workout routines. However, keep in mind iFIT has a TV app, so if you have a TV in your home gym already, you don't need to splurge on a rower with a pivoting screen. Standard Delivery for this rower is free.

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Automatic Trainer Control and stat tracking

The rowing workouts have real-time Automatic Trainer Control, which means that the rower's digital resistance is adjusted by the training program you're using - you'll hear a verbal cue from the trainer in the pre-recorded workout along the lines of, "I'm increasing your resistance." After you finish your workout, you'll get a detailed breakdown of your performance. This will help you see how effective your workout was and where you can improve.

SmartAdjust™ technology to keep you on your game

Not to be confused with Automatic Trainer Control, SmartAdjust™ is a technology that saves your workout adjustments and uses them to automatically adjust your NordicTrack machine for future workouts. It can store your preferred incline level and speed, allowing you to follow your iFIT trainer at your own pace. As you get stronger and faster, SmartAdjust™ updates automatically to keep up with you and ensure that your rowing workouts continue to be challenging.

Great warranty, "meh" return policy

All three rower models come with a Manufacturer Warranty of 10 years for the frame, 2 years for parts, and 1 year for labor. You have the option at checkout to pay extra to extend your warranty by 3 years. NordicTrack's return policy allows customers to request a return within 30 days of delivery if they are not satisfied with their rowing machine. However, you'll have to pay a return shipping charge of $250 and a 10% restocking fee.

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Reputation is mixed

When it comes to reputation, things get a bit tricky. Both NordicTrack and another brand we looked at are part of ICON Health & Fitness. Even though this parent company has thousands of complaints, they've still got an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau. So, they must be following up on those customer complaints well enough.

NordicTrack beats its sister brand

So, given that both have similar histories and advanced features, why does NordicTrack edge out its sibling brand, ProForm? The answer is simple: we're sure customers would prefer a choice of 3 rowers over just 2, and they'd appreciate transparent pricing for the machine rather than a "free" rower with a mandatory 3-year iFIT subscription. Apart from these factors and the distinct characteristics of each brand's rowers, the two brands are more or less on par.

Join the fan club

NordicTrack users often rave about their experiences on these rowing machines, particularly when it comes to the trainer-guided sessions. While rowing might sometimes feel monotonous, having a coach urging you to push harder or persevere for a few more minutes can make a world of difference in your workout's intensity. NordicTrack might not have the cheapest rowers on the market, but they sure pack in value for what you pay. Their rowers, integrated with iFIT, are certainly something to think about when considering adding the next piece to your home gym.

Xterra Review 3.5 Star Rating

Xterra

3.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Air, water, magnetic, combination air & magnetic
  • Price Range: $299 to $899
  • Different Models: 7
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days, shipping not included
  • Warranty: Depends on model
  • Shipping: Included and available in 48 US states

Spirit Fitness is the parent company of Xterra Fitness and a prominent international brand in the fitness industry. Since its establishment in 1983, the company has championed innovation and customer satisfaction. Spirit Fitness has sold over 1.2 million fitness equipment pieces in 50 countries, securing 55 awards along the way. The company prides itself on using cutting-edge science and technology to create engaging fitness equipment that helps people achieve their fitness goals faster. Fun fact: they were an early innovator in integrating cooling fans into their equipment.

Wide product range

Xterra offers a versatile lineup of rowing machines to cater to various preferences, consisting of:

  • 3 Water Rowers
  • 1 Air-and-Magnetic Combination Rower
  • 1 Air Rower
  • 2 Magnetic Rowers

With a total of 7 models, Xterra's range covers all preferences. The two most expensive models, the ERG700 Air & Magnetic Rower and ERG650W Water Rowing Machine, are priced at $899.99 - not a bad deal for their top-tier products. On the other end, the affordable ERG160 Magnetic Rower is available for $299.99.

ERG700 Air & Magnetic Rower: a fan favorite

This flagship model showcases a combination of air and magnetic resistance, offering a smooth and challenging workout experience. With 16 resistance levels and 10 workout programs, this is the model we'd recommend to serious rowers. It's taller than many other rowing machines, with the seat raised 20" off the floor, so it's easier to sit down on and stand up from. The ergonomic row handle, user-controlled intensity, and bright 5.5" backlit console amplify the experience. The console might have a retro feel, but it clearly shows your strokes per minute, overall distance rowed, time passed, calories burned, power output, heart rate, and resistance setting. The rowing machine's foldable design and industrial strength handle strap add to its convenience. Enthusiastic customer reviews underscore its durability, performance, and liken it to more expensive rival rowing machines.

ERG650W Water Rowing Machine: durable and authentic

The ERG650W Water Rowing Machine delivers a realistic rowing experience with over 15 programmed workouts and 6 resistance levels. The innovative multi-blade impeller water tank ensures authenticity in rowing feel and results. Users report their satisfaction with its ease of assembly, range of resistance, durability, and comfort. We're glad to see this model lives up to the $899.99 price tag.

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ERG160 Magnetic Rower: just gets the job done

The most budget-friendly of the bunch, the ERG160 Magnetic Rower has a magnetic flywheel resistance with 8 adjustable levels and an LED display that shows basic workout data. Customer reviews praise its construction but wish that resistance could be set higher for more intense workouts. It's a bummer that the warranty for parts on this rower is only 90 days. Unless you're using it every day, it's unlikely that you'll wear out components like the foot straps within that time frame, as they may require replacement only after extended use. In other words, you might have to replace them on your own dime if they wear out after 90 days. We'd recommend this model for people who are casually interested in rowing and want to add a cardio option to their home set-up, but aren't necessarily expecting the top-tier experience provided by rowers found in commercial gyms.

Read the warranty fine print

Another word about warranty: it's different for every model. The more expensive machines come with a Lifetime Frame warranty, 5 years for parts, and 1 year for labor. The cheaper rowers come with 1 year for the frame, and 90 days for parts - nothing mentioned anywhere about labor. If you're on a budget and want to take advantage of Xterra's low prices, this may not be a dealbreaker for you, but it's something you should be aware of.

Sign up for the newsletter to save

When we visited the site, we got a pop-up advertising Xterra's newsletter, which frequently features discounts. Xterra also appears to run site-wide sales often, so check back often if you're after a bargain.

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Free shipping but less-than-generous return policy

Spirit Fitness ships to the contiguous US states, aiming to dispatch orders within 3 business days, with expected delivery in 2-3 weeks. We love that basic delivery is included in the cost, and that customers receive tracking notifications. However, if you want to return your rower, you'll only have 30 days to do so. You'll be on the hook for paying your own shipping costs, as well as a restocking fee of either 10% or 20% (we aren't sure which number is correct, as we found conflicting information on different pages).

A few issues with repairs

At the time of our review, the Better Business Bureau listing for Spirit Fitness was being updated. However, Spirit Fitness has been accredited by the BBB since 2018. Other review sites revealed customers' displeasure with customer service here. The most common complaint in the small sample we found was that the engineers incorrectly diagnosed problems with the equipment and sent the wrong replacement parts. One customer wondered in her review what good a warranty does if it isn't honored by the company. We would have to agree with her, and we hope this problem is not widespread.

A very good choice

Xterra Fitness offers a wide range of rowing machines, catering to different budgets and preferences. From the top-of-the-line ERG700 to the budget-friendly ERG160, they have something for everyone. While their machines may not have all the bells and whistles of some competitors, they get the job done and are praised for their durability and functionality. Plus, with free shipping and the potential for discounts through their newsletter, Xterra is a great option for those looking for quality and affordability. However, potential customers should be aware of the warranty details and customer service issues. Overall, Xterra Fitness is a very good choice for rowing machines and a realistic option for anyone looking to get fit at home.

Water Rower Review 3.5 Star Rating

Water Rower

3.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Water
  • Price Range: $999 to $2,999
  • Different Models: 15
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: None
  • Warranty: 1 year; can be upgraded to 3 years on components excluding electronics, and to 5 years on frame
  • Shipping: $99 to $150

Developed nearly 30 years ago by John Duke, an oarsman on the USA National Team, WaterRower has since become an established brand in both the rowing and fitness world. With offices in 14 countries, WaterRower ensures a global experience of performance, quality, and customer support while staying true to their beginnings of ethically-sourced materials, handcrafted quality, and unrivaled performance. Each WaterRower is still manufactured in Rhode Island, USA. Shipped to gyms, specialty fitness centers, and upscale hotels globally, these rowers are not just effective but also can add a touch of elegance to your living space.

More than meets the eye

As the name implies, every machine from WaterRower employs water as its resistance mechanism. This gives users a more consistent and fluid rowing sensation, and the sound of the water in the tank offers an authentic feel reminiscent of rowing outdoors.

Higher price point

WaterRower offers a selection of 15 different models for your consideration. The most affordable among them is the A1, priced at $999. It features a single-rail design, a basic performance monitor, and is crafted from oak hardwood. Weighing a mere 98 lbs, it can be easily stored upright and supports users weighing up to 300 lbs. On the premium side in the wood-based models, the Performance Ergometer Rowing Machine, retailing at $1,999, stands out. Constructed from solid walnut, it boasts dual rails, a SmartRow power meter for precise performance metrics, and a slot for a tablet. The machine, weighing 103 lbs, can accommodate users up to 700 lbs.

Something for every aesthetic

If the rustic wood look isn't your style, WaterRow also has several metallic models to choose from. The S1 Rowing Machine features a brushed stainless steel dual-rail frame, has the S4 Performance Monitor, weighs 88 lbs without water, and can support a user weight of 700 lbs. It retails at $2,999. There are two more metallic rowers that cost about $1,000 less than this model. If you like a sturdy wooden frame but you're missing a high tech screen, consider the CityRow Max. It has an integrated 19.5" touchscreen that can resist sweat. The screen has a 30° adjustable viewing angle, and there are high-fidelity built-in speakers. You can also connect an Apple Watch to monitor your stats during workouts.

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SmartRow power meter sends detailed feedback to your phone

If you're considering purchasing a machine with SmartRow, here are the features you can expect. The SmartRow by WaterRower is a sophisticated power meter positioned at the front of your rowing machine, offering detailed power statistics for each stroke. By evaluating the total force and stroke length, it determines power output and sends this data wirelessly to the SmartRow app using Bluetooth.

State of the art SmartRow app

Within the app, you can view various work out details such as Power, Work, Energy, and Stroke Length. The app has a Force Curve mode which gives feedback to refine your stroke length, peak force, and overall energy for each stroke. The SmartRow app stores all workout information, personal bests, and other fitness metrics like heart rate (when paired with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor) and peak power. The power meter is compatible with several third-party applications and operates without needing to be plugged in.

Get an Orangetheory workout at home

If you're a fan of Orangetheory Fitness and want to recreate the run-to-row experience at home, the M1 HiRise from WaterRower is what you're after. While it doesn't come in the signature OTF orange and you'll have to make do with silver, everything else - from the foot straps to the monitor - mirrors what you're accustomed to from the studio.

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Not foldable

None of the rowers from WaterRower have the capability to be folded or separated for convenient storage. However, they can be stored in an upright position with the water tank facing downward. When in use or stored upright, they require a space of roughly 88". When stored, they have a depth of slightly less than 28".

Water rowers don't have easy resistance adjustment

Adjusting the resistance on many water resistance rowers isn't as straightforward as rowers powered by other resistance types. While you can alter the resistance by adding or removing water from the tank, this isn't a practical adjustment to make during the course of a workout.

You can only return it if it's broken

A major downside to purchasing a WaterRower is their restrictive return policy. Unless the machine is defective or there's a warranty issue, once it's delivered, it's yours for good. So, be sure you're set on a water-resistance rower and have the right spot for it at home.

Best Rowing Machines

Customers are loving it

On the bright side, those who've invested in these rowers with no return option are overwhelmingly happy with their decision. Feedback indicates that setting them up is pretty straightforward, and using them is a treat: they're quiet, offer a smooth ride, and provide an intense workout. Plus, they stand out in the looks department - they're more sophisticated and chicer compared to the typical rowing machine.

Shipping depends on material and location

Shipping costs for the WaterRower depend on your choice of a wooden or metal model, as well as your location. While WaterRower does deliver to Hawaii and Alaska, specific costs can be determined by inputting your zip code. For the other states, whether located east or west of the Mississippi, shipping fees are $99 for wooden models and $150 for metal ones. (At the time of our last review, states to the west had higher rates, but current pricing is now consistent.) The shipping fee for CityRow models stands at $100 per unit.

Attractive, but is the cost justified?

While an improved return policy would be appreciated, WaterRower stands out by offering more choices than several other rowing machine retailers. The brand boasts a committed customer base, especially among those who encountered these rowers in studios or gyms and wanted one for personal use. However, the combined cost of the machines and shipping might deter potential buyers without a specific inclination towards the WaterRower brand. We give them 3.5 stars for these issues, and also because they only sell one resistance type.

ProForm Review 3 Star Rating

ProForm

3 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Magnetic
  • Price Range: $699 to $1,403
  • Different Models: 2
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 5 years frame, 1 year parts and labor
  • Shipping: Free

ProForm is a well-known name in the fitness industry, primarily associated with treadmills due to their revolutionary SpaceSaver fold-away design. Since then, ProForm has expanded their product line to include a range of exercise bikes, elliptical machines, weight benches, and, of course, rowers. They offer two models: the Pro 750R Rower and the Pro R10.

"Free" rower

It seems a tad misleading that ProForm promotes their Pro R10 rower as "free". While technically true, there's a catch: you're tied to a $39/month iFIT membership to avail the deal. Break down the costs, and you're looking at $1,403 for the rower over three years (with the iFIT subscription essentially being complimentary for that period). However, if you're a fan of guided sessions, the combination of the rower and iFIT might seem like a great deal to you.

Remote-controlled resistance

What stands out about an iFIT workout is that the resistance is adjusted automatically to align with the tempo of the exercise session. In addition, you have the option to stream videos that let you virtually row around the world, or you can sync up with a live studio class and row in unison with others. If you thrive on that extra push from an external source to maximize your workout, this feature is something you might really want to think about.

Best Rowing Machines

750R: basic LED display

The 750R boasts features like 24 adjustable resistance levels, a compact "lift-and-fold" setup, and a sturdy tablet holder which comes in handy if you prefer viewing your instructor-led sessions on an iPad rather than a smaller smartphone or on a TV mounted on the wall in your home gym. Unlike the Pro R10 Rower, the 750R doesn't have a touchscreen, just a basic LED display, but the iFIT app can still interact with your machine to adjust your resistance levels to keep pace with the workout you're following. This rower costs $699 up front, with financing available for $59/month for 1 year, and shipping is free.

R10: no integrated screen, but everything else is the same

The ProForm Pro R10 Rower has a 10" touch screen display and 24 magnetic resistance levels. The integrated touchscreen streams iFIT workouts and will adjust the resistance to follow the instructor. The flywheel is smooth and almost silent, making it ideal for shared spaces. Just like the 750R, this rower can be folded up and transported easily with 2 front wheels. We don't see a huge difference between the 750R and the Pro R10, other than the $704 price difference and the touch screen display. If you already own a tablet that is compatible with the iFIT app, you can save yourself a big chunk of change by opting for the cheaper model with the tablet holder. Take note that both ProForm rowers can only accommodate up to 250 pounds, which is less than some rival machines that support weights ranging from 300 to 500 lbs. Shipping for this rower is free.

Better Business Bureau page gives us pause

ProForm, under the parent brand of ICON Fitness, has a mixed bag of reviews from its customers. Even though they scored an "A" from the BBB when we last checked, it's a bit worrisome to see over 1,712 complaints in the last year and 3,789 closed in the past three years. Most customers are frustrated about warranty issues, like getting replacement parts or refunds for broken equipment. ProForm's warranty sounds good (5 years for the frame and 1 year for everything else), but it's not much use if people have a hard time getting help.

Best Rowing Machines

Expensive restocking and return shipping fees

Paying $39/month (for 3 years with zero interest) for a top-notch, full-body workout in the comfort of your own home might seem like a good deal, especially when comparing with other sellers that charge more for less. If you're not a fan of the rower, you can send it back within a month. But, keep in mind, you'll be on the hook for a $250 shipping fee and they'll take 10% off your refund as a restocking charge. Given these terms, you might think twice about returning it.

Will be the right choice for some

ProForm rowers stand out with their instructor-led sessions, a feature that's becoming popular in many of today's cardio machines. Shelling out less than $40 monthly might actually save you money compared to that gym membership gathering dust. Though we advise being vigilant when dealing with their customer service, the "A" BBB rating shows they're on the right track despite some grievances. For many home workout aficionados, ProForm might be the ideal rowing machine pick.

Sunny Health & Fitness Review 3 Star Rating

Sunny Health & Fitness

3 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: All types
  • Price Range: $119 to $899.99
  • Different Models: 30
  • Financing Available: No
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 3 years frame, 180 days parts and components
  • Shipping: Free

Based in Los Angeles, Sunny Health & Fitness is a well-known brand in the fitness world with over a decade of experience. They started by importing and selling fitness gear and have since grown to serve both the U.S. and international markets. Among their wide range of affordable exercise equipment, their rowing machines have gained special attention. Many fitness enthusiasts prefer their rowers because they offer good quality without the price tag. In an industry where equipment can be very expensive, Sunny Health & Fitness attempts to provide a budget-friendly alternative without compromising on quality.

All resistance types available

Sunny Health lists 30 rowers on their site, excluding 5 models that were sold out, although they were still listed online at the time of our most recent visit. These rowers have every kind of resistance imaginable, including combination water/magnetic, magnetic/fan, flywheel/magnetic, and fan/air.

Water rower for under $1K

On the more expensive end, you have the Vertical Hydro Wooden Water Rowing Machine for only $899.99. This is an attractive machine with a rubberwood frame and a vertical water tank with six resistance options. You can adjust the level by adding or draining water. Also, remember that with a flywheel, the harder you row, the more resistance is created. Adding or removing water changes the base level of resistance you start with. This rower is compatible with the SunnyFit app and comes with a device holder. The rower appears to have an LCD display, but no information is given about it in the product description.

Best Rowing Machines

The very basics

On the low end, there's the $119.98 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine, which resembles a bicycle without wheels more than a typical rowing machine. It features an LCD monitor that displays stroke count, calories burned, and time elapsed. The resistance for this bare-bones model is created via hydraulic cylinders, and beginners love it. It has 59 reviews that average out to 4.5 stars.

Happy wallet, happy joints

You can take home Sunny Fitness' most popular magnetic rowing machine for only $249.98 (yes, you read that right). It has 8 dial-adjustable resistance levels and an LCD monitor that displays your time, calories burned, and stroke count. The machine can be upgraded to the Smart version for $100-this model comes with an extra-long slide rail for taller people, a phone holder above the LCD monitor, and it is compatible with the Sunny Health & Fitness App via Bluetooth. Customers find the machine reliable, easy to assemble, and convenient. However, several people have mentioned that they wish the resistance could be higher. Its happiest users seem to be older customers who are trying to find an easy-on-the-joints way to stay active.

Get connected with the SunnyFit app

The SunnyFit app is a versatile workout platform tailored for everyone, whether you're a beginner or advanced. It has over a thousand varied workouts, including strength, cardio, and running exercises, all curated by top-notch trainers. The app isn't just for indoor workouts. You can also use it for outdoor activities like walking or biking, and it'll track your progress. A nice feature is the World Tour mode, letting you virtually workout in beautiful global locations, from beaches to mountains. If you enjoy a challenge, you can compete against others using these virtual routes. Moreover, the app also has a system to track your progress with points, and you can earn rewards to use within the app. It's not just about workouts; it's about being part of an active community and reaching your fitness goals.

Best Rowing Machines

Good warranty, free shipping

Sunny Fitness' rowers all come with free shipping and are covered by a Manufacturer Warranty of 3 years for the frame, 180 days for all other parts and components. This is not the most robust warranty we've seen, but it gets the job done. Standard shipping on all rowers is free and you're covered by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Excellent reputation

We are pleased to report that Sunny Health & Fitness is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has earned an "A+" rating. Their accreditation is recent, but so far, they're one of the only rower brands we've reviewed that is accredited at all.

The brand for casual rowers

Overall, we think Sunny Health & Fitness could best be described as the place to shop if you're a novice rower looking for a solid cardio machine to round out your home gym, but don't want to pay the big bucks for a premium machine. We're satisfied with their warranty, love their free shipping, and glad to see they treat their customers right. It's not where more experienced rowers will want to shop, but we have no problem recommending it for the average home fitness customer.

Life Fitness Review 2.5 Star Rating

Life Fitness

2.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Combination Air & Magnet
  • Price Range: $1,849 to $3,499
  • Different Models: 1
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 3 years frame, 1 year parts and labor
  • Shipping: Depends on location

Life Fitness is a global leader in cardio, strength, and group training products for public fitness facilities and home gyms. The American fitness company produces and distributes equipment under several brands, including Life Fitness, Cybex, and Hammer Strength, and is headquartered in Illinois. Fun fact: they invented the first electronic exercise bike. As of right now, Life Fitness only has two rowers in their product line.

The Heat Row - Standard or Performance

Life Fitness's Heat Row is available in two styles: Standard, featuring a basic LCD display and basic handles, and Performance, which includes an upgraded TFT2.0 display console and handles equipped with controls for convenient on-the-go workout customization. Both machines use the WattRate® meter to accurately measure how much power you're putting in. The resistance comes from a mix of air and magnetism, so it can be adjusted for beginners or those wanting a tougher workout. Plus, a resistance knob is easily reachable, so you can crank up the intensity at any point.

Heat Performance Row

The Heat Performance Row is a top-of-the-line rowing machine made for serious athletes. It has a basic TFT2.0 display screen that shows detailed workout data and includes motivating programs to make rowing more enjoyable. This machine is designed not just for typical cardio but to really challenge you with high-level athletic workouts. There are buttons on the handle to change what you see on the screen, like your training stats. With the TFT console, the Heat Performance Row delivers individualized feedback including distance, time, strokes per minute, 500 meter split time, and more. The console also has a cool feature called "Coach by Color" that helps you understand how you're doing. Also, you can challenge yourself with programs like "Race a Distance" or compete with a friend, adding a fun twist to your workout.

Best Rowing Machines

Premium prices - not premium performance

The Standard Heat Row will run you $2,999, while the deluxe Performance version is $3,499. With such hefty prices, you'd think these rowers would be bulletproof. However, the one review we found on the Performance model mentioned cracks in the foot pedals, the LCD unit malfunctioning, and the Bluetooth being unreliable. The reviewer was quite happy with the feel and silence of the actual rowing movement, but clearly didn't get what they paid extra for in the bells-and-whistles department.

The Row HX Trainer

The Life Fitness Row HX Trainer offers a full-body, low-impact exercise experience, thanks to its Fluid Technology water resistance mechanism which provides a seamless and organic rowing sensation. Adjusting its five resistance settings can be done using a simple dial, eliminating the hassle of siphoning or adding water. Its frame combines the aesthetics of natural wood with the durability of tempered steel, and its space-saving design means it can be stored upright when not in use. With the BT Console, users can sync up through Bluetooth, monitor their workout journey on fitness apps, and view data like strokes per minute, duration, distance, pulse rate, and more.

Customers love the Row HX

Customers are raving about the Row HX Trainer by Life Fitness, and here's why. Many appreciate its user-friendly assembly and the consistent, smooth rowing experience it provides. Despite differences in body types and weights, couples have found the rower accommodating and versatile, though some users did note it sits a tad lower than expected. But the ride quality? Absolutely top-notch. Users love the fluid, rhythmic motion and even those who use it daily, combined with the Apple Fitness+ routines, found it a joy. They've praised its sturdiness, durability, and the high-quality materials used in its construction. The sound of the water, while rowing, not only adds an authentic feel but also brings a soothing ambiance.

Best Rowing Machines

Easy to store upright

The design of the Row HX Trainer makes it simple to store upright, and it's light enough to move easily. The comfort of the seat is another highlight, ensuring users can row for extended periods without discomfort. For those skeptical about the water-based mechanism, the Row HX Trainer has turned doubters into believers, with the swirling water sound elevating their rowing sessions. Both individual users and couples have strongly endorsed the product, commending its low-impact yet effective workout capabilities. In short, if you're seeking a quality, at-home workout, the Row HX Trainer seems to be a crowd favorite.

More expensive than similar rowers

But what about the price? At $1,849, this rower may not be the best fit for those on a tight budget. We've seen rowers from competitor companies that deliver a comparable experience at a much lower price point. But if the Row HX just happens to have a combination of features and aesthetic that you can't resist and it's within your price range, there's really no reason not to buy it.

Decent warranty

Life Fitness rowers include a Standard Warranty of 3 years for the frame, 2 years for the mechanical components, 1 year for electrical, 6 months for wear items, and 1 year for both console and labor. We like that they included wear items at all - not all rowers come with this safeguard.

Best Rowing Machines

Expensive restocking fees and shipping

Life Fitness has a return policy that enables customers to return cardio and strength equipment within thirty days of delivery for a full refund of the purchase price. However, a 20% restocking fee applies to all cardio and strength equipment. Unused accessories in new condition can also be returned within thirty days of delivery, but the customer must bear the return shipping costs. Original shipping and installation charges are non-refundable, and refunds will typically be issued to the original form of payment. We couldn't find a clear breakdown of shipping costs, but when we tested with a US zip code, the fees for the Heat Row Performance model came to almost $300. Ouch.

You can trust them

Currently, Life Fitness has a "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau, which is down from an "A+" at the time of our last review. However, they seem to be very responsive to the complaints on the BBB page, with customers acknowledging the resolution was satisfactory. We suspect the drop in ratings and increase in complaints may be due to supply-chain issues in recent years that are out of Life Fitness's control, and we're satisfied with their reputation.

Not the best out there for rowers

Ultimately, Life Fitness stands as a reliable brand for a range of workout gear. However, in the realm of rowers, their offerings are fewer and come with a heftier price tag, and they don't necessarily outshine competitors in terms of advanced tech or enhanced build quality when matched against comparable rowing units. Keep Life Fitness in mind, but check out the higher-ranking rowers on our list first.

Echelon Review 1.5 Star Rating

Echelon

1.5 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Magnetic
  • Price Range: $699 to $2,199
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Shipping: Free

Echelon Fitness, started in 2017, is a company that makes smart fitness equipment, including rowing machines. They offer interactive video-based classes like some of the more expensive brands but claim to keep their prices more affordable. This places Echelon in an interesting niche - they're trying to offer a mix of quality and value, appealing to those who might not want to spend top dollar but still want a tech-driven workout. Echelon makes 3 magnetic resistance rowers ranging in price from $699.99 to $2,199.

Row: tablet required

The most basic Echelon model, the Row, has a whopping 32 resistance levels and an aluminum and steel frame that can accommodate users up to 300 lbs. It can be folded up for storage. There isn't a built-in screen (or any kind of display), but there's a rotating device holder for your phone or tablet. We love that the handlebar includes resistance controls, so you don't have to break your row flow to amp up the intensity.

It's quiet, but you need the App

Users say it's quiet, delivers a satisfying and smooth workout, and doesn't take up much space. However, one reviewer noted that there's no "Just Row" mode available - you have to power up the app and select a workout. There's also no heart rate monitor in the handle, so the calorie count on the app is bound to be inaccurate. For $699.99, we think it's a little silly not to be able to use your rower unless you've also purchased a tablet (because no one wants to try to follow along with a workout on a tiny smartphone screen).

Row-s: built-in touchscreen, but not much else

This model has a 22" HD touchscreen that can be pivoted 180 degrees to follow along with other kinds of workouts, like yoga. There's a resistance control in the handle, 2 water bottle holders in case you're a beast and work up that much of a thirst during your workouts, and it can be folded away for storage when not in use. This rower also has 32 resistance levels and can accommodate users up to 300 lbs. Most reviews are positive, but a common complaint is that parts of the rower came incorrectly built - in one instance, the handlebars were mounted upside down. That's not great for a machine that costs $1,599.

Best Rowing Machines

Row-7s: an even bigger screen... but still not much besides

This is the most deluxe model offered by Echelon. It comes with a 24" screen, but that's a bit of overkill considering some of their rowing videos seem to be grainy and they aren't filmed in picturesque settings. So you get to feel like you're really there... but "there" is in a small, nondescript workout studio. You might as well just go to the gym yourself. The screen does have the flexibility to rotate 180 degrees, which comes in handy for the yoga videos available in Echelon's library. In terms of functionality, this model includes resistance controls in the handlebar, built-in Bluetooth audio speakers, and retains the 32 resistance levels consistent with other models. When you break it down, the standout feature of this machine, compared to its more budget-friendly counterparts, really is that expansive screen. And for that "premium" touch, the price tag sits at $2,199.

Your machine is useless without the app

Without the app, your Echelon rowing machine isn't much more than a fancy piece of decor - you can't just hop on and row freely; you've got to follow a class. One reviewer, who generally had a positive experience with Echelon Fitness, particularly appreciated the variety of classes and the quality of instructors. However, they couldn't award the company a perfect score. Why? Well, they ran into occasional glitches with the machine. For instance, they had to exit a class and restart it a few times because the resistance controls weren't responding properly. Plus, they noted that the machine would sometimes freeze for a frustrating 10-15 seconds right in the middle of a workout session.

Expensive monthly membership absolutely required

So, wondering about the cost to access that must-have app for your machine? It'll set you back $39.99 a month for Echelon's Premier membership. With this, you can dive into daily live classes and over 15,000 on-demand ones, covering both Echelon equipment workouts and those that don't need any gear. And while the membership does come with some perks like member-only discounts, beginner to expert programs, and integration with apps like Strava and Spotify, one user pointed out that live classes wrap up by 9 pm.

Best Rowing Machines

No scenic routes

Now, if you're picturing rowing past serene beaches or through lush jungles with these classes, think again. Echelon's offerings seem to be more on the lines of a solitary instructor in a pretty basic studio, captured by a not-so-crisp camera - no sailing down the coastline of a tropical island for Echelon members. And here's the kicker: Echelon's Premier Membership monthly fee is on par with brands that deliver more visually appealing content. So much for that promise of value-for-money.

Warranty, shipping, and return policy are all great

Echelon's at least got your back when it comes to equipment protection. They offer a full year of worry-free coverage for all their products, and if you're a Premier member, you're covered for a total of 5 years. Plus, shipping on all rowers is on them. And if you aren't completely satisfied with your purchase, no worries - they have a 30-day return policy with no fees and they'll even refund your shipping costs as long as everything is returned in brand new condition with all original packaging and accessories. We're confident they keep their promises because their Better Business Bureau rating is an "A+" .

Echelon fails to deliver

We think it's pretty ridiculous that your rower won't work unless you pay gym membership fees every month. We think it's even more ridiculous that Echelon positions itself as an affordable option - maybe for other fitness products, but not its rowers. You can find products of higher quality for the same or lower price from other brands we've reviewed. Echelon has a great satisfaction guarantee and a good reputation with the BBB, but that's not enough to save them from ranking low on our list.

Sole Fitness Review 1 Star Rating

Sole Fitness

1 Star Rating
  • Rower Type: Air & Magnetic
  • Price Range: $1,599
  • Different Models: 1
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: Lifetime frame, 1 year labor, 2 years parts
  • Shipping: Fre

Originally designed for use in hotels, Sole Fitness cardio machines are now sold worldwide. The company claims to be dedicated to providing strong and reliable equipment at reasonable prices, and to prioritize integrity in their business practices. They say they strive to improve the quality of their equipment without increasing the cost. This review will be short and sweet, because Sole Fitness only has one rower in their product line.

Nothing special

The Sole SR550 is a combination air and water resistance rower with a 10.1 inch touchscreen, a handlebar with resistance controls, and built-in fitness programs. (Note: in the product description, the brand claims that their rower is the only rower with handlebar controls, but we found at least one other model from a different brand with this feature.) When not in use, the SR550 can be folded up and stored away. Like most newer models of rowing machines, it is Bluetooth-compatible and has fitness tracking features. For $1,599, we aren't particularly impressed with this rower's offerings.

Poor reputation

At the time of our last review, we expressed concern about Sole Fitness's "C+" rating with the Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately, their rating has since dropped further to an "F". Unhappy customers complain about poor customer service and lack of response from Sole Fitness when dealing with issues with their equipment. They also express frustration with the company not honoring their warranty, even in cases where the damage to the equipment was not due to any fault of the customer.

Typical warranty

The default warranty that comes with your rower is Lifetime for the frame, 1 year for labor, and 2 years for all other parts. The Lifetime frame warranty is nice, but we don't entirely trust Sole Fitness to honor it based on common customer complaints.

Best Rowing Machines

Shipping (should be) free

Upon visiting the Sole Fitness website, you will be greeted with a pop-up offering free curbside shipping. To take advantage of this offer, you have to enter your email address first. Your Sole Fitness package will be shipped within 2-4 business days and delivered within 10-14 business days. A tracking number will be emailed to you once the item has been shipped. They do ship to Alaska and Hawaii, but you'll have to contact Customer Service for a quote on the cost.

Great return policy, but there are trust issues

Sole Fitness offers a satisfaction guarantee on all products with a 30-day return policy. All equipment has a lifetime guarantee on frames and motors, and multi-year warranties on parts and labor. Open box returns are accepted with no cost for return shipping and no restocking fee - one of the best return policies we've seen. That is, if you can get a customer service representative to process the return within the 30-day window: complaints on their Better Business Bureau listing reveal some customers have been given the runaround about their defective Sole Fitness purchases, only to be told in the end that the return timeframe has passed.

Better options elsewhere

Sole Fitness' rowing machine doesn't win us over for several reasons. While their return policy is commendable, they don't have a great track record when it comes to honoring it. A better response to complaints about defective machinery would also be necessary for them to climb higher in our rankings. The limited variety of rowers is also a drawback. If the SR500 is your top pick, then sure, go for it. However, we believe that most buyers would appreciate a broader selection of rowing machines before finalizing their choice.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

What are the different styles of rowing machines? Rowers come equipped with a variety of resistance types, each offering a distinct rowing experience. Each type caters to different preferences in terms of workout dynamics, noise levels, and maintenance needs.

  • Air (flywheel) resistance uses a spinning fan, and the intensity grows as you row harder, although it can be a tad noisy.
  • Magnetic resistance, on the other hand, employs magnets, allowing for a quieter, smoother row where resistance is manually adjusted and stays consistent regardless of how fast you row.
  • Machines with pistons or hydraulic cylinders create resistance through air or fluid-filled components, making them more compact and often more affordable, but they might not mimic the traditional rowing feel as closely.
  • Finally, water resistance models, featuring paddles moving through a water tank, will give you an experience closest to actual rowing, including the calming sound of water, but they're typically heavier due to the water component.

Are you seeking the ideal rowing machine for your personal gym space? Here's what you should consider as you shop:

  • Budget. Rower prices span a broad spectrum. While the high-end models (exceeding $2,500) boast state-of-the-art features, you can snag a reliable machine for under $300. No need to splurge to ensure a solid workout session.
  • Features. Think about what you really want in a rower. Is space-saving important? Do you want the ability to join real-time classes, akin to Peloton? Or maybe the aesthetic matters, with the machine's look needing to mesh with your existing gym equipment?
  • Return policy and warranty. Be future-ready. If your chosen rower isn't the right fit for your space or if you end up wanting a different resistance type, can you send it back? Beware of potential hidden costs like restocking or return shipping charges. Moreover, get clarity on the warranty - what's covered, from the frame to electronics?
  • Company credibility. Dig into user feedback. What's the buzz about the brand? Will they step up if challenges arise during shipment, setup, or regular use? Given that a rowing machine isn't a trivial expense, you want to ensure you're placing your trust in the right hands.

If you're looking for a comprehensive breakdown of the top machines on the market, Top Consumer Reviews is the right place to be. We hope these ranked reviews will help steer you toward a rowing machine that aligns with your fitness aspirations!

The Best Rowing Machines Compare Rowing Machines Compare Rowing Machine Reviews What are the best Rowing Machines Best Rowing Machine Reviews

Rowing Machine FAQ

There are four basic types, all classified by the type of resistance they provide. The rowers you may have seen at your local gym, CrossFit box or Orangetheory studio probably used flywheel or water resistance. Other rowing machines use magnetic or piston/cylinder resistance mechanisms.
Absolutely! Rowing machines use up to 85% of your body, from the effort it takes to push backwards to the core strength needed to go back and forth and, of course, all of the upper body in the pull. Like any new exercise routine, you may find there's a learning curve to developing proper form, but it's one of the best low-impact workouts you can get.
Yes! There are many workouts designed for all levels of fitness, including yours. You can also find communities that share rowing challenges -even worldwide! This is especially true if you use a Concept2 rower, which is considered as the "gold standard" when entering competitive times for races and recruiting.
Sometimes, depending on the model you select and how many features it offers. You'll see rowers ranging from under $300 to over $2500. You might be able to get low-interest financing from the retailer of the rowing machine you select.
Most styles will have a certain minimum floor space when in use: you're pushing yourself back and forth along a track, so think about how long your legs extend from a bent position to a fully-extended one. However, if space is an issue, there are rowing machines that can be folded up when not in use (usually by placing the track in a vertical position).
Most retailers of Rowing Machines offer a return period of at least 30 days. But, keep in mind that you're usually going to be on the hook for return shipping fees, which can get expensive.
Some rowers are delivered for free. Don't be surprised to see shipping costs upwards of $130, though: rowing machines are oversized and heavy.
Generally speaking, you'll be the one setting up your rower. A few retailers might be able to connect you with a local professional who can do it for you, but you might want to try it yourself first. These machines are typically straightforward to get up and rowing.
The Best Reviews of Rowing Machines