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      September 29, 2020

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Pro Form vs Water Rower

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

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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
Water Rower

WATER ROWER

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Cost:

From $895 to $2,500

Over the last 30+ years, WaterRower has delivered handmade-in-the-USA craftsmanship in their rowing machines. Manufactured in Rhode Island and distributed to health clubs, boutique fitness studios and luxury hotels worldwide, these rowers not only work well but look amazing in your home.

Not just a pretty face

As you'd guess from the name, all of WaterRower's machines use water for resistance. For many users, this provides a smoother, more even rowing experience - and the aesthetic appeal of the water sound in the tank closely mimics outdoor rowing.

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Water
  • Price Range: $895 - $2,500
  • Different Models: 10
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: None
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Components - 3 years, Electronics - 1 year
  • Shipping: $69.95 to $134.95

10 rowing machines to choose from

You'll have 10 different models to consider with WaterRower. At the lowest end of the price spectrum is the A1 at $895. This rower has a single-rail design, a simplified performance monitor, and an ash hardwood frame. On the other end of the range is the S1, priced at $2,500. A limited edition model, this rowing machine has a brushed stainless steel frame, an upgraded S4 performance monitor, and dual rail design.

Best Rowing Machines

Same as the studio

Are you coming to WaterRower as an Orangetheory Fitness addict wanting to replicate your run-to-row at home? You're looking for the M1 HiRise. No, you can't get it in OTF orange - you'll have to settle for silver - but everything else from the foot straps to the monitor is the exact same as what you've used at the studio.

Can't be folded

None of the rowing machines in this product line can be folded or disconnected in the middle for easy storage. But, they can be tipped on their end and stored upright (water tank end down). You'll need about 88" of room while in use (and that means 88" for upright storage), and a depth of just under 28" while stored.

No easy resistance change

You also don't have an easy way to change the resistance on a WaterRower machine. Yes, you could add or take away water from the tank, but that's definitely not something to be done mid-workout.

Shipping costs vary

What you spend on shipping depends on whether you choose a wooden or metal model and where you live. WaterRower does ship to Hawaii and Alaska, but you'll have to enter your zip code to find out your costs. Otherwise, for states east of the Mississippi, you'll pay either $69.95 (wooden) or $124.95 (metal), and for states west of the river you'll pay $79.95 or $134.95.

Returns allowed only if defective

The biggest drawback to buying a WaterRower is the lack of a return policy. Except for defective machines and warranty purposes, you're stuck with your rowing machine once it's been delivered. So, you'd better be absolutely certain that you prefer water-based resistance and that your machine is going to fit in the space you have in mind.

Customers are thrilled

On a positive note, customers who've taken the chance on these no-return rowers are almost uniformly thrilled with their purchase. People say that assembly is fairly basic, and the user experience is fantastic: quiet, smooth, and a killer workout. It doesn't hurt that these machines look great too - much more sleek and stylish than the average rower.

Pretty, but worth it?

Although we'd like to see an enhanced return policy, WaterRower still earns a decent rating for providing a wider range of options than many retailers of rowing machines. The company has an extremely loyal following, particularly with exercisers who fell in love with the rowers at the studio or gym and jumped at the chance to have one at home. But, higher prices for both the machines and the shipping could put WaterRower out of range for customers who don't have a particular affinity for the brand.

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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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