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      September 19, 2020

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Water Rower vs Life Fitness

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

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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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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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