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      September 28, 2020

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Pro Form vs Life Fitness

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

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.

Best Rowing Machines

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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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.

Best Rowing Machines

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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