Hydrow Indoor Rower Review – 2020

Last Updated: August 25, 2020
Hydrow Rowing Machine review 2020
The Hydrow is an indoor rower touted as the rowing equivalent of a Peloton. This sleek rower uses magnetic resistance so it is virtually silent when in use. The Hydrow has a streamlined design with an aluminum and steel frame and anthracite polymer body that looks like a rowing scull sitting in your living room. There are no hanging wires, no random straps or other angular features that hang down — this is an elegant rower. The monorail is long and smooth with sturdy foot pedals, an ergonomic seat, and of course, the 22” full color touchscreen attached to the front. Like other tech enhanced fitness equipment, the Hydrow is marketed as a machine + subscription combo where you pay a monthly fee for training content in addition to the initial cost of the machine. This hybrid model provides continuously updated classes, routes, and content that keeps your workout from getting stale. Subscription content connects users via the Leaderboard and other social platforms and makes owners more committed to their training regimen. But the ongoing cost of a subscription (on top of the hefty purchase price) can be prohibitive for many users. The Hydrow carries a $2200 sticker price and is $38 for a monthly subscription.

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Who It’s For: Affluent enthusiasts who want a silent, high-end rower with a touchscreen and subscription content

The Hydrow is a great rower for users looking at a high-end option. It is best suited for those who:

  • Have a dedicated space or gym for rowing. The Hydrow is 86” long and 47” high.
  • Are able to sit and lean forward while exercising
  • Can bend down to get on, and stand up to get off the seat
  • Desire a chic, streamlined look.
  • Want an attached touchscreen and are willing to pay the monthly fee.
  • Are looking for something low impact that targets more than 80% of muscles in the body
  • Want to increase core, back and arm strength in addition to the leg muscles
Pros
  • Exceptional design looks elegant and stately in your home
  • The frame is lightweight but strong with a comfortable seat and rail
  • Foot pedals will accommodate any size athletic shoe and include straps
  • The contoured seat is gently padded and sweat resistant
  • 22” Touchscreen projects both indoor and outdoor rowing classes and routes
  • The touchscreen is crisp with impressive graphics
  • Videos load quickly with few buffering issues
  • The Hydrow can be lifted vertically and stored upright
  • Supports up to 375 pounds
  • Computer controlled resistance is silent
  • You can workout with others around you and not disturb them
Cons
  • Expensive — this rower is at the top of the market for price
  • Requires subscription content to operate which adds $38/month
  • Requires a sizeable footprint when in use; does not fold in half

FeaturesSpecifications
  • 86” L x 25” W x 47” H Footprint when open
    • The Hydrow is a large rower. It does not fold in half, but it can be lifted and stored upright vertically. The rower requires a bit of space in operation, so make sure you have enough floor space.
  • 25” W x 33” D x 86” H Folded Footprint
    • Since the Hydrow lifts vertically, you can store it in a corner or other area out of the way. It weighs 145 pounds, so it can feel a bit heavy to smaller users.
  • Aluminum and steel frame supports 375 pounds
    • The frame is sleek but still sturdy with an aluminum frame that sits up off the floor. This makes it a bit easier to get on and off than rowers that rest right on the ground.
  • Dynamic computer-controlled resistance is silent
    • Unlike comparable air rowers that generate a lot of noise when in use, the Hydrow is extremely quiet due to computer controlled resistance that doesn’t create friction.
  • Foot pedals allow for gentle ankle motion that reduces leg tension and facilitates full knee flexion
    • When sitting at the catch, users can bend fully at the knee with solid foot support and ankle flexion for proper rowing motion.
  • Comfortable Handle, Quiet Strap
    • The ergonomic low-stress grip reduces hand fatigue and allows you to row longer. The strap is also much quieter than a chain and is constructed of a polyester webbing (like a seat belt) that won’t tear or break.
  • 22” Full Color Touchscreen
    • The touchscreen is easy to see with crisp graphics and 1080 resolution. The touchscreen is sensitive even with sweaty hands.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 enabled for heart rate monitors and audio
    • The Hydrow will sync with any number of Bluetooth chest straps so you can read your HR right on the screen.
  • Monitor adjusts 15 degrees and pivots 25 degrees left and right for visibility
    • The screen tilts up and down and also rotates side to side
  • Front facing Speakers
    • This may sound like a no-brainer, but many of the exercise bikes and other fitness equipment with attached touchscreens have speakers in the back of the monitor. This projects volume away from the rower and into your room. Front facing speakers are a very nice upgrade on the Hydrow.

Construction:

  • Footprint: 86” L x 25” W x 47” H (when open)
  • Folded Footprint: 25” W x 33” D x 86” H (when lifted vertically)
  • Inseam length: Fits up to a 36” inseam
  • Frame: Aluminum and steel construction
  • Machine Weight: 145 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 375 pounds
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 enabled for heart rate monitors and audio
  • WiFi: Requires internet connection; 10mbps recommended
  • Drag Mechanism: Dynamic and responsive computer-controlled resistance
  • Electrical: Requires an outlet for power; 120v recommended
  • Foot bed adjustment: Easy adjustment for ankle flexion
  • Handle: Ergonomic low-stress grip
  • Handle Strap: Quieter than a chain; high quality polyester webbing
  • Seat: Cushioned and ergonomic; 10-roller system

Console:

  • 22” Full Color Touchscreen
  • Monitor adjusts 15 degrees
  • Monitor folds flat for storage
  • Monitor pivots 25 degrees left and right for visibility off the rower
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD Resolution
  • PCAP Screen touch technology
  • Amplifier speakers x2 channel, 3W, front facing

Warranty:

  • 5 Years: Structural frame & upright storage kit
  • 1 Year: Components, screen, other electronics
  • 1 Year: Labor

Quick Summary

The Hydrow rower is a stately, high-end training machine that will enhance the look of your home or workout space. This is the Peloton equivalent in the form of a rowing machine and it will attract the same crowd of affluent professionals who desire a private workout in the comfort and convenience of their own home. The Hydrow features On Demand classes that are pre-recorded both indoors and out. These are all led by professional rowers who give prompts on pace, form, and rowing technique as you move along. There are also Journeys — which are unguided rowing excursions through rivers and waterways so you can row on your own. Live Workouts are also available which are broadcast in real time so you can feel like you are on a rowing team as you participate with others. The 22” touchscreen has 1080 resolution and bright graphics. The Hydrow is quieter than other rowers, so you can use it in a shared space or small apartment without disturbing those around you. The biggest drawback is the sticker price with the added monthly subscription. We recommend this rower to those who know they will use it and already have an appreciation for rowing since it will cost you a pretty penny out the door.

Hydrow Indoor Rower

In Depth Review of the Hydrow Rower


Construction

Frame

Hydrow Rowing Machine frame

The Hydrow looks like a rowing scull. Even if you aren’t familiar with rowing, the sleek design and streamlined frame are eye-catching and elegant. The lower section of the frame is black, and this would be the part of the scull that is typically in the water. The chrome monorail holds the seat with wheels on either side for a smooth look and feel. The seat, foot straps, handle and pull strap are all black for nice contrast. The design of the Hydrow really makes it feel like you are in a scull, rowing smoothly across the water. The Hydrow has attached a screen to the front end. We’ve tested rowers with screen before and one common problem is the position of the screen can require you to look up unnaturally while your shoulders roll forward in the catch. This position is not ideal, so we are happy to see the Hydrow work out some of the ergonomic features on this rower. You can both slide into the catch, keep your spine in alignment, and view the screen simultaneously. The overall feel is smooth and we’d describe the noise as a gentle whirring that ebbs and flows depending on your position in the stroke. In all, we are impressed with the frame design, stability and functionality of the Hydrow. This rower should work for users of most sizes since the 36” inseam will provide enough length for people up to 6’7” tall. The 375 weight capacity is also sufficient for most users. The foot straps will accommodate any size athletic shoe, so this rower will appeal to users of all sizes.

Geometry

  • Footprint: 96” L x 24” W x 14” High
  • Folded footprint: 33” L x 25” W x 54” High
  • Pedals: Wide and supported with an adjustable strap
  • Saddle: The saddle is molded for comfort with leg contours on the front and a cutout for your tailbone on the back

Pedals

The pedals are supported by a solid footboard underneath and a molded pedal that holds your shoe securely. The double layer provides stability underfoot while still allowing for a gentle toe flex as you row. A wide adjustable strap secures the user’s feet into position. The adjustable molded overlay is ridged at the top to keep your foot from sliding forward and has several notched positions that shift the heel support upwards to accommodate all shoe sizes.

Hydrow pedal straps

Handles

The Hydrow handle is ergonomically-designed for a comfortable hold with overmolded soft rubber grips. The handle is sweat resistant and can be easily wiped down to sanitize. The handle is not too large, so it will accommodate the hand size of both men and women. The comfortable handle allows users to complete longer rowing routines without hand or shoulder fatigue. The seat slides right up to the junction between the pedals and the handle for a comfortable catch position. The handle is raised a bit more than other rowers, which holds the torso upright and keeps your spine in alignment throughout the rowing stroke. The position of the handle in relation to the pedals also keeps knees upright in the proper position.

Seat

The Hydrow seat is pretty standard for a rower. It is ergonomically designed with contoured areas for your legs and tail bone. Since users lean back through the drive and finish, the scooped out back section on the seat reduces the likelihood of your tailbone rubbing on the saddle. The seat slides gently along the monorail on large rollers. This isn’t the most padded seat, but you don’t want too much padding or it can cause friction spots. For new rowers, the rowing seat often takes a bit of time to get used to (kind of like a bike saddle). The surface of the seat is gently padded and sweat resistant. Like the handle, it can be wiped down to sanitize. The seat is wide enough for most users, but those above 300lbs may want to swap out for a larger seat.

Resistance

The Hydrow uses magnetic resistance that is computer controlled. This way you can adjust resistance at any point and the adjustments can be targeted to a specific training goal. If you have a quick, hard row, the resistance is higher to get your heart rate up quickly. For longer, more rhythmic sessions, resistance can be set lower. Magnetic resistance allows for ultimate customization so you can always find (and then find again) the right level for you. Other rowers such as air or water rowers do not have preset resistance levels so you kind of have to guess how hard you are pulling based on your speed. The resistance on the Hydrow is precise and quiet. There is a bit of noise when using the rower, but this seems to be more from the coiling and uncoiling of the handle strap than the resistance itself. All controls are in the touchscreen which keeps the rower console simple and clean.

Console/Controls

Hydrow console screen

Display

Hydrow monitor

The console is similar to other fitness touchscreens we’ve used with controls and metrics along the bottom and a leaderboard that pops up on the right side. This keeps the rest of the screen clear so you can see the rowing program easily.

At the base of the screen the following metrics are displayed:

  • Meters per minute time
  • Time remaining in workout program
  • Strokes per minute
  • Average time to row 500 meters
  • How many meters total have been rowed
  • Calories burned

Rowing Programs

On Demand Classes

Other participants in a class are called “teammates” which is a nice way to funnel the competitive nature of rowing into a communal effort. There are many different kinds of classes and lengths of routes, so you have lots of options to choose from. These are also updated regularly to add more options. On Demand classes have both indoor and outdoor routes. They are all led by a professional rower, known as your “Hydrow Athlete.”

Live Classes

There are also live classes you can join to work together with other rowers at the same time. These further link participants in a group effort as the Hydrow Athlete encourages and guides you along.

Journeys

These are outdoor routes that are not guided by a professional rower. Instead, a video shot from a rowing scull glides through the water, making it feel like you are right there. The videos have audio and include natural sound such as birds, the swish of the water, etc.

Off Rower Classes

Many classes provide training for off the rower. These include yoga and stretching classes that are recommended after a rowing session. The screen both tilts and rotates side to side so you can see it when you are off the rower. Our only advice here is make sure you have sufficient space around your rower to accommodate whatever exercise you are doing.

Bluetooth

The Hydrow monitor is bluetooth compatible with heart rate chest straps. It will also sync to play audio through the speakers.

Power

The Hydrow requires a wall outlet to operate. The rower will not function or do anything unless it is plugged in.

Speakers

As mentioned above, we are thrilled to see the Hydrow have front facing speakers. Speakers in the back of the console are a frequent irritation on other fitness equipment since they basically project all the volume away from you. The front facing speakers are a valuable and much appreciated upgrade.

Accessories

There is no fan on the Hydrow. We’d love to see this as an addition since a good rowing session should leave you nice and sweaty. But you can always set a floor fan or standing fan to the side if needed. The Hydrow doesn’t have a phone holder, water bottle holder or tablet mount either. The console is very streamlined and simple. Any extras will have to be placed close by.

Noise Level

Since the Hydrow uses magnetic resistance, there is hardly any noise from the resistance itself. Even as the resistance level changes, the rower is pretty quiet. The sound of the strap as it comes out of the rower, uncoils through the drive and then recoils in the recovery, does make a bit of a whirring sound. You can hear it, but it’s not bothersome. This isn’t the type of noise that would disturb a downstairs neighbor but you do notice it when rowing. Compared to the noise generated by an air rower this is virtually silent, so we find this to be a great option for those who are concerned about noise output.

Storage / Folding

Hydrow stored upright vertical
The Hydrow lifts vertically to reduce the amount of floor space needed when not in use. When open, the Hydrow has a footprint of: 86” L x 25” W x 47” H. When lifted, it is 25” W x 33” D x 86” H. The rower weighs 145 pounds, so it is heavy to lift; but the option of being able to tuck it in a corner is nice.

When considering where to place your Hydrow, make sure you have enough space to the sides and rear of the rower since you lean back through the finish. Do not place the rear of the rower directly in front of a wall. Also, there are some off-rower classes that may require space around the rower, so more area may be needed depending on your planned usage.

Hydrow Indoor Rower

Bottom Line:

The Hydrow was recently introduced as a high-end option for those who want a sharp, ergonomic rower that is stately and quiet enough to be used inside (rather than a garage gym). The 22” touchscreen is impressive and the classes and content are expanding regularly. The rower itself is sleek and well built and will support up to 375 pounds of user weight, making it a great option for users who may be looking for something that is low impact and allows them to sit down while exercising. The magnetic resistance is silent — regardless of your resistance level — and the monitor has front facing speakers so you can add just enough volume to enjoy your program. The rowing professionals who lead both the classes and outdoor row sessions provide excellent examples of rowing form and give helpful cues and instructions along the way. Other participants are referred to as “teammates” rather than competitors, which is a nice touch. The rower has a somewhat limited warranty considering how much you pay for it, and it’s a newer piece of equipment, so not all the bugs may be worked out yet. But in general, we find this to be a well-made and certainly nice-looking rower. The price tag may be a limiting factor for some buyers. The Hydrow is priced around $2200 and the monthly subscription will cost you another $38/month. If you can afford it, this is a good option. We recommend anyone interested in the Hydrow make sure they actually like rowing before investing in this expensive option — but for those who are committed, rowing is a fantastic, full body exercise and the Hydrow makes it feel like a delight rather than a chore.

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