Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Water Rower Review

Saturday, March 2nd

2024 Rowing Machine Reviews

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.

Best Rowing Machines

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.

Best Rowing Machines

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.

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.

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.
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 Reviews of Rowing Machines