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Rowing Machine Reviews

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ROGUE

Rogue believes that supporting American manufacturing is a win-win: stronger businesses mean better products, a happier workforce, and a stronger economy. As part of their commitment to this ideal, their two models of rowing machine are manufactured exclusively in the US - and have become extremely popular with the emergence of the Crossfit movement within the fitness industry.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $900 - $1,100
  • Different Models: 2
  • Vertical Storage: Yes
  • Financing Available: No
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Resistance Levels: 10
  • Maximum User Weight: 500 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 30 days if in unused condition
  • Warranty: Structural Welds and Frames - Limited Lifetime, Cables/Wheels/Parts - 5 years
  • Shipping: $45

Rogue sells two models of rower: the Concept 2 Model D and Model 3, both available in black or gray. The two models are essentially the same; however, the E has a seat height that is 6" higher than the D, which can help people with mobility or balance issues to get on and off the rower more easily. Also, the chain housing on the E is enclosed, keeping it cleaner and making it less likely to get in way of the user. Finally, the arm that holds the monitor is longer on the E, while on the D model it is shorter but able to pivot.

Both machines use the PM5 Performance Monitor to track your workout by distance, speed, pace, calories burned, and watts. This monitor also allows you to store your workout data via USB flash drive, is compatible with heart rate monitors, and supports machine-to-machine racing if you happen to have more than one in your home gym or other workout location.

Each rowing machine can be taken apart into two pieces for storage, or simply use the caster wheels to move it where you need it to go. Rogue also sells a Rower Hanger if you prefer to store your rower that way.

Rogue knocks it out of the park when it comes to customer satisfaction. As an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau, where they maintained an "A+" rating at the time of our review, Rogue clearly does what it takes to keep their customers happy. On both the Rogue site and others, users say that the machines are incredibly easy to assemble in less than 30 minutes, provide a workout that rivals - or even beats - traditional cardio machines like treadmills and ellipticals, and that the customer service department was responsive and easy to reach.

With well-tested, competitively-priced fitness machines that are made and serviced completely in the US, we think most shoppers will love the workout they get on the Concept 2 Rowers. Rogue is our top pick for rowing machines.

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HORIZON

Looking for a rowing machine from a reputable manufacturer with a long history of well-designed fitness products? If so, you'll want to take a look at the Horizon Oxford 5. Horizon is a brand of Johnson Health Tech, which has been providing solidly-engineered fitness equipment and other products for more than four decades. While their focus has been predominantly on more popular types of cardio equipment, such as treadmills and ellipticals, their single model of rowing machine is a product worthy of the brand name.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $899 sale price, $1499 regular price
  • Different Models: 1
  • Vertical Storage: Yes
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Resistance Levels: 30 programs
  • Maximum User Weight: 300 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 30 days, no restocking fees
  • Warranty: Frame - 10 years, Parts - 2 years, Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: Free

Although most of the Oxford 5's features are comparable to other rowers on the market, the 30 available programs stand out. These programs include interval workouts, variations in resistance, calorie-targeted workouts, and a fun "race boat" setting to race against the machine. Also, this rowing machine is the only one we found that includes a chest strap for monitoring your heart rate - a nice perk not offered with most fitness machines in general.

Pricing on the Oxford 5 is comparable with other rowing machines. Also, at the time of our review, there was a pop-up on the main page offering a discount of 5% for signing up for Horizon's email list. Horizon does offer financing through their partner, FuturePay; click on the box above the price to find out more.

We were also impressed by the return policy on this rowing machine. Most retailers will charge restocking fees up to $500 for a return, and some don't allow returns for any reason. Johnson Health Tech will allow you to return the Oxford 5, no questions asked, within the first 30 days - and without charging any restocking fees. This is very generous, and shows a genuine understanding that some customers may not feel that a rowing machine is a good fit after they've had the opportunity to try it for a few weeks.

While we would have liked to find more customer reviews on the Oxford 5, Johnson Health Tech's "A+" rating with the BBB and a 40+ year history of satisfied customers is enough to conclude that it's a solid choice for a home gym.

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LIFE FITNESS

LifeFitness equipment can be found almost anywhere there's an indoor workout facility. From treadmills and ellipticals to strength and rowing machines, they've made a huge impact on the fitness industry for many years.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $1,699 - $2,219
  • Different Models: 2
  • Vertical Storage: Yes
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Resistance Type: Fluid (Water Tank)
  • Resistance Levels: 4 or 16, depending on model
  • Maximum User Weight: 330 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 30 days, 25% restocking fee (up to $500 maximum)
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Tank and Seals - 3 years, Mechanical - 2 years, Console - 1 year, Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: Free

You have two main options for rowing machines on the LifeFitness site: the Row HX and the Row GX. Which should you choose? That depends on what you need. As you'll see when looking at the two rowers side-by-side, the lower-end HX has a more spa-like appearance, with wooden rails, while the GX is all silver, black and red and looks more modern. As you'd expect, the more expensive GX has four times the number of resistance levels available on the HX. Both models can easily be stored upright when not in use.

Unfortunately, across all types of fitness equipment, LifeFitness tends to be the most expensive on the market. With other types of cardio machines, this is usually because of the more advanced technology available in the console; however, with rowing machines, the console is a basic screen that tracks workout stats and not much more. Another costly aspect of buying a LifeFitness rower is the return policy: if you decide you want to return it within the first 30 days after purchase, expect a 25% restocking fee of up to $500.

On the other hand, LifeFitness is one of the few retailers we found that offers a payment plan through their financing partner, Affirm: look for the ""or as low as" pricing information below the rower's price in order to see more details. At the time of our review, Affirm was offering interest rates from 10-30% APR with repayment plans of 3, 6, and 12 months, depending on your credit history.

Customer reviews of the LifeFitness rowing machines were somewhat mixed but generally positive. We found several comments from users who said that the motion of the water-based resistance system, particularly the HX, did feel much closer to what it feels like to row on water than other brands they'd tried. If you have experience with rowing, the LifeFitness models may be a great fit based on that alone.

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NORDICTRACK

You probably think of skiing machines when you hear the name NordicTrack. Originally made famous in the late 80s for their home fitness machine that imitated the movements of cross-country skiing, NordicTrack eventually expanded to include a wide variety of fitness equipment, including strength machines, treadmills, bikes, and more.

NordicTrack offers one model of rowing machine: the RW200.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $599-$1299 (sale price vs. regular price)
  • Different Models: 1
  • Vertical Storage: Yes
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Resistance Levels: 10
  • Maximum User Weight: 250 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 30 days, 10% restocking fee
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Parts & Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: Free

NordicTrack does offer financing with a Fortiva Retail Credit line of credit. No interest is charged if you pay in full within a year of purchase.

One feature of the RW200 that stands out among the competition is the on-board entertainment system. While most rowers have a basic console that only displays workout stats, the NordicTrack allows you to plug in your MP3 player (or even a CD player!) to the sound system, providing a soundtrack for your workout.

But, the RW200 has some drawbacks compared with other rowing machines. Although it comes with 20 programmed workouts, many customers feel that even the most difficult program is too easy for an experienced rower. Also, the weight capacity of the NordicTrack rowing machine is only 250 lbs. Given that many people choose a rowing machine because it's suitable for most people as a low-impact workout, it's surprising that the RW200 would exclude those who are on the heavier side of the scale.

In short, the RW200 may be a good choice for people who are using a rowing machine for the first time and who want some of the extra bells-and-whistles offered by the console's on-board sound system - especially if you can get NordicTrack's sale price of under $600.

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PRO-FORM

Pro-Form keeps it simple, both with their rowing machine and their website. You won't find fancy bells and whistles, just a simple site with one kind of rower, the 440R. From the construction to the console, the 440R delivers a basic workout, with 8 levels of resistance using a standard air/flywheel set-up.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $399-$999 (sale price vs. regular price)
  • Different Models: 1
  • Vertical Storage: Yes
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Resistance Levels: 8
  • Maximum User Weight: 250 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 30 days, 10% restocking fee
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Parts & Labor - 90 days
  • Shipping: Free

We were underwhelmed by the shopping experience at Pro-Form. The website looks like it hasn't been updated in years; in fact, it gives the impression that the page isn't loading properly or may be missing images with the way it displays. We also noticed that, at the time of our review, there were three different prices listed for the 440R and that, simultaneously, it said that it was in stock and out of stock. We were surprised that the live chat function was actually working and that we got a fast response to our question - that it was indeed in stock, and that the lowest of the three prices was a one-day only deal.

The 440R also didn't impress us - though for a price under $500, including shipping, it might be a good entry-level rowing machine for exercisers on a budget. The console displays strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, time, and calories on the most basic of monitors. Also, with a maximum user weight of 250 lbs., the rowing machine can't accommodate larger individuals.

Finally, user reviews both on the Pro-Form website and elsewhere are not encouraging. Comments included criticism of the construction, especially with respect to internal cords snapping after a few weeks of use, and poorly-made components.

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Rowing Machines

If you're looking for a great all-body workout that won't kill your joints, a rowing machine may be exactly what you need. Although rowers aren't usually as popular or well-known as treadmills and ellipticals, they are an excellent choice for virtually every type of exerciser.

In fact, rowing machines have seen a rise in popularity lately, largely due to their use in Crossfit workouts. Why? First, using a rowing machine allows you to work on cardio and strength at the same time - which saves YOU time as well. As you push with your lower body and pull with your upper body, your heart rate increases while building strength in your legs, abs, and arms. And, using your whole body means that you're easily burning the same amount of calories as a workout on a treadmill or stair climber.

Also, rowing machines give you a low-impact workout. Whether you're an avid exerciser looking to mix up your training routine or you're new to working out, you'll find that rowers don't pound your knees and ankles like many forms of cardiovascular exercise. Rowing is also a common choice for people recovering from an injury, specifically because it offers an all-body workout while still being gentle on the joints.

Rowing machines provide resistance in one of three ways: air, fluid (water), magnetic, and hydraulic. Air resistance is the most common: your workout will turn a flywheel, which creates the resistance you need. These tend to be somewhat noisy compared with other kinds of resistance. Water resistance rowers can provide a quieter, smoother workout; instead of turning a flywheel against the air, you turn paddles in a water tank. Many people find that the action of using this type of rower more closely imitates the feel of rowing on an actual body of water. On the other hand, magnetic resistance rowing machines don't replicate the feel of rowing on water, but they tend to operate even more quietly and to be more compact than water resistance models.

As you shop for a rowing machine, you'll find quite a range of options and price points among the available retailers. What should you keep in mind as you compare rowers? Consider the following:

  • Cost. Does the retailer offer a rowing machine that fits in your budget?
  • Resistance. Does the machine use air, water, or magnetic resistance? Do you need a rower that closely imitates the feel of rowing on the water, or are you just looking for a good workout? How many levels of resistance are provided?
  • Storage. Can the rowing machine be stored vertically, saving you floor space when it's not in use?
  • Return Policy. Does the retailer allow you to return the rower? If so, will you get a full refund or will you be charged a restocking fee?
  • Warranty. How long will the company cover the machine - parts, labor, console, and so on - if something breaks?

TopConsumerReviews has reviewed and ranked the best rowing machines available today. We hope these reviews help you find the best rower to help you achieve your fitness goals!



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