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      September 22, 2020

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NordicTrack vs Pro Form

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

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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.

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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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3.5 stars
Pro-Form

PRO-FORM

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Cost:

From $349 to $1,403

ProForm carries a wide range of in-home cardio equipment: treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, and even HIIT trainers. When it comes to rowers, they offer two options: the 440R and 750R.

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Digital or Magnetic
  • Price Range: $349 - $1,403
  • Different Models: 2
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days, restocking fee of 10% and return shipping fee of $250
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 or 10 years, Parts/Labor -90 days or 1 year
  • Shipping: Free

3-year term

We thought it felt a little gimmicky that ProForm was advertising their 750R rower as being "free". Yes, but only technically: you'll have to pay a $39/month iFIT membership fee to get it. If you do the math, that means that the rower is actually about $1,403 (and the iFIT membership is free for the 3-year term). But really, if you like trainer-led workouts, that combo of rower + iFIT could feel like a bargain.

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Resistance controlled remotely

The crazy part about an iFIT workout is that your resistance is controlled remotely to match the pace of the session. Plus, you can stream videos to "see the world while you row", or join a live studio class and row together. If you're the kind of person who wants some external motivation to get the most out of your workout, this is definitely worth considering.

24 levels of resistance

Other benefits of the 750R are the ability to access 24 levels of resistance, a space-saving "lift-and-fold" design, and a secure tablet holder if you want to follow your trainer-led workout on your iPad instead of your TV or other screen. Be aware that the weight capacity for the rower is only 250 pounds (while some competitors' machines have a capacity of 300-500 lbs.).

Entry level rower

The 440R is much more basic in comparison. Don't expect any of the electronic bells and whistles, but you'll still get 8 resistance levels, expanded strength training options with the ability to use the rower handle as a low pulley station, and an LCD monitor for watching your distance/time/calories/total strokes/strokes per minute. This model can also be easily folded and moved when not in use, and also has the 250 lb. weight limit.

Warranty issues

ProForm (also known as ICON Fitness) has some mixed results when it comes to customer experiences. While the retailer had an "A+" rating from the BBB at the time of our most recent visit, we weren't thrilled to see that they had more than 500 complaints over the last 12 months - and over 1,200 closed in the last 3 years. The biggest source of frustration for customers seems to be warranty issues: getting replacement parts, refunds for defective equipment, etc. Their warranty is decent overall (5-10 years on the frame, up to a year on labor and parts), but that's not helpful if customers can't actually get service.

Expensive to return

On the other hand, getting a cutting-edge workout for $39/month (for 3 years, no interest fees) could be pretty attractive, especially when looking at other retailers who offer less at a higher cost. You can return your rower within 30 days if you wind up not liking it, though you'll pay shipping fees of $250 to send it back and lose 10% of your refund as a restocking fee. After seeing that, you may determine that it's not worth it to return it.

Could be right

ProForm gets our attention with their trainer-led classes, which are gaining steam across a variety of cardio machines on the market today. And spending under $40 per month could be a lot more affordable than what you're paying for that gym membership you aren't using. We recommend keeping an eye on things if you need customer service, but this retailer's flawless rating from the BBB means that they're doing fine despite the complaints they've received. ProForm could be the right rowing machine choice for many home fitness enthusiasts.

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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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