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Last Updated: January 5, 2023
What to look for when buying a rowing machine from our reviewers at TreadmillReviewGuru.com
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for a rowing machine for your home. We sat down with our experts who test all of our rowers to compile this full rowing machine buying guide.
We’ll break down everything from the different kinds of rowers, to how much they cost, and how much space they’ll take up in your home. Our goal is to help you buy the best rower for you.
Table of Contents: What To Consider Before Buying A Rowing Machine
- What Should I Look For In A Rowing Machine?
- What Are The Different Types Of Rowing Machines?
- How Much Space Do I Need For A Rower In My Home?
- Do Rowers Make Noise?
- What Do Rowing Machines Cost?
- What Are The Content Options On Rowers?
- Where Should I Buy A Rower?
What Should I Look For In A Rowing Machine?
Finding the right rower for you depends on a few factors including your specific needs and goals. For instance, if you’re particularly strong you’ll want a rowing machine that has unlimited resistance, or if you’re an outdoor rower you might want a rower that feels similar to rowing outside. Considering these factors is a good place to start when you’re looking for your new rowing machine.
Type Of Resistance
There are four types of resistance to choose from in rowing machines. The resistance type plays a huge role in your experience as well as how the machines differ from one another. There are air rowers, water rowers, magnetic rowers, and hydraulic rowing machines. There are also hybrid rowing machines that use both air and magnetic resistance. Each of them has a different feel when you pull against the tension.
When testing, we look at the weight capacity as an indicator of how sturdy the machine is. It’s also important to check if you’re a larger user. The weight capacities can range anywhere from around 250 lbs up to 500 lbs on some rowers.
Buying a rower is an investment that you’ll of course want to last through years of workouts, and being sure that the rower’s specifications are within your needs is a great way to ensure it performs properly.
I know for me personally, I sometimes need a little extra motivation and like some entertainment when I workout. Trainer-led classes help if you want a bit more structure and are just starting out. They’re like having a personal trainer in your home. Maybe you’re competitive and want to compete against others? Some rowers have gamified content that is also encouraging but in a different way than taking a class with an instructor.
Or maybe you want to watch your TV or attach your own tablet to the rowing machine? You definitely want to figure out what kind of content you prefer before buying a rower because that can help motivate you to actually use it regularly which is the ultimate goal.
What Are The Different Types Of Rowing Machines?
The different types of rowing machines all work a little differently and provide different experiences. Below is a brief breakdown of each of the kinds of rowers. If you want to learn more about each of them check out this post.
Air rowers are the most popular type of rowing machine. They use air as resistance. When you pull, air works against the flywheel to create tension, and the harder you pull the more tension you get. Air rowers provide a smooth stroke and are great if you want unlimited resistance to pull against.
Water rowers are kind of like air rowers, but they use water instead of air. They have tanks filled with water that paddles move through when you row. These rowers have the most realistic feel to rowing outdoors, but you can’t adjust the level of resistance like on other rowers.
Magnetic rowers use adjustable magnetic resistance that offers a wider variety of tension to pull against. When rowing, a magnetic brake pushes against the flywheel. The resistance stays consistent when you pull, unlike water and air rowers that give more tension the harder and faster you row. Assault Fitness AirRower Elite air rower
There are also hybrid rowers that use both air and magnetic resistance to give even more of a variety of resistance.
Hydraulic rowers are smaller than other rowing machines and most only provide an upper body workout. They work by pulling a lever and on most, your legs and the seat won’t move.
How Much Space Do I Need For A Rower In My Home?
Rowing machines are typically low to the ground, but long. Their length can take up quite a bit of space in your home. Before bringing your rower home, it’s important to make sure it fits and works in your space.
Typical Lengths Of Rowing Machines
As mentioned above, hydraulic rowers are usually smaller than air, water, and magnetic rowers, so they’ll work best if you have less room. For example, the Stamina 1215 Orbital hydraulic rower is only 50” long compared to the 92” long AssaultRower Elite air rower.
Air rowers do tend to be the longest, but magnetic and water rowers are still long. Most are around 85” to 88” in length or even as long as air rowers. We recommend measuring your space to ensure whatever kind of rower you choose can be used in your home.
Storing Your Rower
On top of making sure that the rower will fit in your home, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to store it. There are some rowers like the Concept 2 Model D, that fold up when it’s not in use. Others, like the CityRow Go Max, can be stored upright. This is a great space saver if you have high enough ceilings. There are also some rowers that don’t fold and can’t be stored vertically. These are great if you have the space for your rowing machine to stay and not be moved.
Do Rowers Make Noise?
Yes, rowers typically make some level of noise, although different kinds are louder than others. For instance, air rowing machines tend to be the loudest kind because of the noise the air makes when it’s in the flywheel. Magnetic rowers on the other hand can be pretty quiet if not almost silent.
Water rowers generate sound as well, but most find the water sloshing to be soothing. I like the noise, too. Another aspect to consider with noise is if the rower comes with an attached touchscreen and speakers. If you’re taking a class, the trainer’s voice and music will play from the speakers. This is something to consider if noise is a concern for you.
What Do Rowing Machines Cost?
Rowing machines vary in cost depending on the type of rower, their brand, and if they come with an attached touchscreen. If they require a monthly subscription to access the content then expect to pay for that on top of the rower’s price. No matter your budget though, you’re sure to find a rowing machine to fit within it.
Most hydraulic rowers can be found for under $1000, but you can find plenty of other rowers in this price range. The ProForm 750R magnetic rower is just under $1000 and so is the Echelon Smart Rower magnetic rower, and the Concept 2 air rowers.
$1000 – $1500
The Assault Fitness AirRower Elite is just over $1000. The ERG650W water rowing machine from Xterra is also in this price range, although both of these rowers have simple consoles.
$1500 – $2000
Once you get into this price range, many of the rowers come with an attached touchscreen and subscription content. Rated as the best overall rowing machine on our best rowers page, the Hydrow magnetic rower by itself is priced at just under $2000. With Hydrow’s subscription, you’ll have access to high-quality trainer-led classes on the large touchscreen. NordicTrack’s RW900 magnetic rower also falls in this price range and the iFit subscription gives you a library of thousands of classes to choose from.
The sleek, wooden Ergatta water rower is just over $2000 and comes with an attached touchscreen and gamified content. You can also purchase the Heat Row from Life Fitness in the standard style for over $2000. This one is great if you’re looking for a hybrid rower with a simple LCD console.
If your budget allows, there are rowers for home use in this price range, too. The Skillrow from Technogym is a hybrid rower that uses both air and magnetic resistance.
What Kind Of Content Do Rowers Have?
It might not seem important, but the content and technology can impact the price, as well as how much you use the rowing machine. The screen, no matter the size or type, will display your rowing metrics.
Simple Console Without A Monthly Subscription
If you don’t want to pay for subscription content every month, a rowing machine with a simple console is the way to go. The WaterRower rowing machine has the basic S4 Performance Monitor that displays your metrics and also has onboard workouts as well.
Some rowers with small, simple consoles also come with device racks so you can use your phone or tablet for entertainment. These kinds of consoles provide a bit more choice when it comes to how you want to use your rower.
Touchscreens With Subscription Content
Fitness subscription apps are very popular. More and more home fitness machines, including rowers, are coming out with subscription content and touchscreens. These require a monthly fee to access the content and functionality of the touchscreen. Below are common options of subscriptions available on home rowing machines.
iFit can be found on rowers from NordicTrack and ProForm, including the ProForm Pro R10 magnetic rower. We like iFit because they have an extensive library of trainer-led classes that you can do on their equipment and off. Their outdoor content is extremely impressive because they film in beautiful locations all around the world.
The Hydrow is another great option if you’re looking for trainer-led rowing classes. It is exclusively available on the Hydrow rower.
Ergatta is a bit unique with their content because instead of filming classes led by instructors, they instead provide games and competitions. These are great if you’re competitive and enjoy playing games. You’ll compete against other members of the Ergatta community.
City Row is another brand that has its own subscription content found on the CityRow Go Max water rower. The classes are filmed in an indoor studio with a trainer rather than outdoors.
The Echelon Row-s Smart Rower has classes for the rower, as well as their other equipment. You can follow along with an instructor on this platform as well.
Where Should I Buy A Rowing Machine?
Even though you can buy a rowing machine on Amazon or through other retailers, we highly recommend buying your rower directly from the manufacturer. This way in case you have a problem with your machine, you can contact the manufacturer and utilize their warranty.