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      September 29, 2020

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NordicTrack vs Life Fitness

To help you find the Best Rowing Machines, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of NordicTrack and Life Fitness.

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Buy Your Rowing Machine with Xterra Today! Where can you find the best rowing machines? Maybe you got a taste at a HIIT class like Eat the Frog or Orangetheory, you're a CrossFit devotee, or you just get in a rowing session when you hit Planet Fitness or another gym. Many people have a love-hate relationship with this particular piece of fitness equipment, so we applaud you if you're looking for a quality machine to add to your home gym!

You probably know all of the reasons to love rowing machines: few cardio workouts give you the total body focus that's achieved while rowing. Generally speaking, a rowing routine uses 65-75% legs and 25-35% of the upper body - strengthening legs, arms, and abs all at the same time. That's efficient!

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Best Reviews

2020

Rowing Machine Reviews

4 stars
NordicTrack

NORDICTRACK

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Cost:

From $899 to $1,599

NordicTrack and home workouts are practically synonymous. For many years, thanks to the power of TV commercials, people have known that this brand gives people the ability to train both cardio and strength from the comfortable environment of their own space - no gym needed.

3 rowing machine options

Within the NordicTrack brand, you'll find 3 options for rowing machines: the RW200, RW500, and RW900.

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Digital, Air, Magnetic
  • Price Range: $899 - $1,599
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: Frame - 10 years, Parts - 2 years, Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: Free (RW900 excluded)

Basic but feature rich

At the bottom of the price range is the RW200, sold for $699. Although it's the most basic of the three models offered by NordicTrack, it's still got plenty of features to catch your attention: 24 digital resistance levels (magnetic), Bluetooth-enabled, and 20 preset workout apps. The machine folds easily for storage at a height of 44" and a width of just over 37". Even the display is higher-end, allowing for setup of multiple user profiles, and the machine comes with a 1-year iFIT membership (more on that later). Shipping is free on this model.

Best Rowing Machines

New workouts added daily

In the middle, you'll find the RW500 for $999. Upgrade your rowing experience with a 10" tablet, 25 resistance levels - and interactive personal training. That last part comes through the iFIT membership (which is also included free for 12 months). Your on-demand workout actually controls the resistance digitally to match the various portions of the session, no need to fiddle with controls or set them yourself mid-exercise. New workouts are added daily for streaming whenever you want, or you can take a live class. Why haven't you heard of this before? Probably because rowing tends to be more specialized - you don't know you love it until you try it, maybe at a Live2Row studio or Orangetheory Fitness class.

Bigger screen

At the top of the options is the RW900. At $1,599, you're likely wondering what you get for that extra $600 over the RW500 - a valid question. How about a 22" interactive HD touchscreen, 26 resistance levels... and, unfortunately, no free shipping. That will cost you $199. Everything else is essentially the same between the two models, so it's up to you if it's worth the extra cash for the bigger screen and 1 additional level of resistance.

Mixed reputation

How about reputation? Here's where things get a little confusing. NordicTrack and another company in our review are both brands of ICON Fitness. Across all of its brands, the parent company gets a LOT of complaints (we're talking thousands). And yet, the Better Business Bureau still gives them an "A+" rating, so they're clearly doing something right in the way they address those customer issues.

Sister brand

So, with essentially the same track record and high-tech features, why does NordicTrack score higher than their sister brand, ProForm? That's easy: we think customers would rather choose among 3 rowers instead of 2, and they'd rather pay a straightforward price for their machine instead of being told it's "free" and then be committed to 3 years of the iFIT service. Beyond that and the differences among the companies' rowers themselves, the two options are essentially equal.

Enthusiastic supporters

For what it's worth, NordicTrack customers are pretty enthusiastic about the experience when using one of their rowing machines, especially with the trainer-led workouts. Rowing can feel like a bit of a slog, but with instructors pushing you to take it up a notch or encouraging you to keep at it for just a little longer, you'll probably get much more out of your fitness session than when you just row-and-go until you feel like stopping. NordicTrack doesn't offer any bargain-basement options for rowing machines, but they do give you a lot of value for the money spent. We think their iFIT-enabled rowers are definitely worth considering.

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3 stars
Life Fitness

LIFE FITNESS

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Cost:

From $1,399 to $2,265.10

Starting out as the maker of the world's first electronic exercise bike, LifeFitness evolved into a global leader for cardio, strength and group training products. Designed to inspire healthier lives, products offered by this company can be spotted in public fitness facilities and home gyms around the world.

2 rowing machine options

LifeFitness has two rowing machines for private use: the Row HX and the Row GX.

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Water
  • Price Range: $1,399 - $2,265.10
  • Different Models: 2
  • Financing Available: No
  • Return Policy: 30-day trial period on all products. A 25% restocking fee (up to a maximum of $500) is also charged on all returns
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Tank and Seals - 3 years, Mechanical - 2 years, Console - 1 year, Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: $199 - $214

Not inexpensive

The Row HX sits on the floor and has wood rails. Priced at $1,399, this is the less expensive of the two rowers sold by LifeFitness, but still a fairly hefty price tag compared with models sold by other retailers for under $1,000. You've got 4 resistance levels controlled by a dial, with no need to add or siphon water to access it. It can easily be stored upright for a smaller footprint. LifeFitness doesn't describe the information you'll get during your workout, but the image of the console makes it look like you can see your overall time, 500m split time, meters rowed, watts, calories burned, and a few other metrics.

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Steep price tag

The Row GX is the upgrade, with a single center rail and a raised profile (making it easier for people to get on and off the machine, especially if they have bad knees or mobility challenges). You'd think with such a steep price tag ($2,265.10), the Row GX Trainer would provide a superior rowing workout experience. But, the handful of customer reviews were evenly split between love/hate. Especially when comparing this model to similar rowers on the market, the Row GX Trainer came up really short. This was the most obvious for the more competitive/experienced rowers, who said that the inability to track watts/splits/intervals was an absolute no-go for this machine. Looking at the images for the monitor, it seems to be the same as the Row HX, but LifeFitness didn't offer any details.

High shipping fees

Shipping fees for these two rowing machines are higher than almost every other retailer in our evaluation, at $199 to $214.

Nice warranty

How about the warranty and return policy? You'll have 30 days to decide if you're keeping your rower; you'll pay a restocking fee of 25% if you opt to send it back. Your warranty covers the rower frame for 5 years, the tank and seals for 3, mechanical for 2, and a year on the console and labor.

Few customer complaints

And on another high note, LifeFitness gets an "A+" from the Better Business Bureau,, with very few complaints registered there over the last 3 years.

Trustworthy, but expensive

At the end of the day, LifeFitness is a trustworthy choice for buying workout equipment across the spectrum. But, when it comes to rowers, their options are limited and expensive - and they don't provide significant advantages like better technology or superior construction when compared with similar rowing machines.

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Continued from above

Another huge reason to take advantage of rowing is its low-impact style. There's no pounding on already-sensitive joints while using a rowing machine, just a push and a pull that glides back and forth with whatever amount of effort you choose to use.

What style of rowing machine is best? That largely depends on preference. Resistance comes in four ways: air (flywheel), magnetic, pistons or cylinders, and water. If you've used a machine at a fitness center, you're probably familiar with flywheel and water rowers already. Those styles also do the best job of imitating the feel (and the sound, for tank-base systems) of rowing in open water.

So, how can you tell which rowing machine is the right one for your home gym? Here are several criteria to keep in mind as you shop for a rower:

  • Price. Rowing machines can range from ultra-affordable (less than $300) to top-of-the-line (over $2,500). While spending more usually puts more features and cutting-edge technology in your hands, you don't have to break the bank to get a rower that delivers a terrific workout.
  • Features. Make a list of the must-haves for your rower. Does it need to fold easily for storage? Do you want the capability of following a live class, Peloton-style? Should your rowing machine have a certain look to match your other home gym equipment?
  • Returns and Warranty. What if your rowing machine doesn't fit the space you had planned out? Or you realize that you'd actually prefer the resistance of a water rower instead of a flywheel system? Most retailers of rowers allow returns, but watch out for restocking fees and return shipping fees. What kind of warranty coverage does the company give you for the frame, mechanical components, and any electronics?
  • Reputation. What do other shoppers say about the company? Can you expect good service if something goes wrong during shipping, installation, or day-to-day use? A rowing machine can be a significant investment, so you want to know that your purchase is from a business that has your back.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best rowing machines available today. We hope this information helps you pick the right rower to meet all your health and fitness goals!

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