Indoor rowing machines are often overlooked when it comes to fitness equipment. However, rowing is a full-body, low-impact cardio workout suitable for almost everyone. Plus, many of the top rowing machines come with streaming capabilities and gamification to help make your workouts more interactive and enjoyable.

“While this is a low-impact cardio workout, research has shown that using a rowing machine for HIIT workouts elicits greater energy expenditure during the workout compared to cycling, making it ideal for those short on time needing a quick, but effective workout,” says Dr. Jen Roper, PhD, CSCS, an associate professor of health and human sciences at Loyola Marymount University. (

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Our team has tested over 20 rowers. We paid close attention to their build quality, technological capabilities, ergonomics, and other key components. The ones that earned the highest scores in multiple categories made our list of the nine best rowing machines.

Best rowing machine overall


Our pick for the best rowing machine overall, the

Concept2 RowErg

, is beloved by CrossFitters, commercial gym owners, home gym users, and even Olympic rowers. This commercial-grade machine features a robust aluminum frame, powerful stat tracking via the PM5 monitor, and an ergonomic seat that glides effortlessly over the monorail. Plus, it’s easy to store—you can tilt it upright or break it down into two pieces when you need extra space.

Our picks for the best rowing machine


Best overall rowing machine

The Concept2 RowErg is a reliable rowing machine with classic workouts, an adjustable seat height, and Bluetooth, all for a low price.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


5


Material


Aluminum/steel


Vertical storage


Yes


Monitor


3”x3” backlit LCD


Resistance levels


10

What you should know




We know a rowing machine can be a big investment for your home gym, so here are a few things you should know before making this purchase:


  • The Concept2 RowErg is a favorite of Fortune Recommends





    and gets stellar customer reviews all around.

  • The handlebars are angled to 10 degrees to allow for a natural and comfortable grip, and there are two options for seat height.

  • This rowing machine is perfect for beginners and pros alike and offers a lot of value at a competitive price

Pros



Made with durable, commercial-grade materials



Angled handlebar allows for a natural grip



Can be stored upright or broken down into two pieces



PM5 monitor tracks a wide range of data

Cons



The seat and handlebars can be uncomfortable at first



Not a lot of built-in programming options

Why we like Concept2 RowErg as best overall rowing machine

Several members of our team and I own the Concept2 RowErg. We all agree that it’s the best home rowing machine available because it is durable, requires little maintenance, and more accurately tracks key performance metrics compared to other rowers. (Roper notes that the accuracy of performance metrics can be improved by rowing with even strokes and high-stroke rates.) (

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) We rated it 4.6 out of 5 stars overall and consider it one of the

top fitness products for improving health and wellness

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With a sturdy aluminum frame and steel rear legs, the RowErg is built to last. You can choose the standard 14-inch height or the 20-inch height, which could be a better choice if you have mobility restrictions.

The plastic seat and handlebars can take some getting used to. When I first started using the RowErg, I experienced some soreness in my tailbone area, and my hands blistered. Now that I’ve been using it weekly for over a year, that discomfort has diminished.

The PM5 monitor earned a solid 4.25 stars out of 5 from our product testers. I especially love that it’s backlit. I work out early in the morning, and I can clearly see the screen even if I don’t turn on the lights in my garage. The monitor tracks stats such as strokes per minute, pace, estimated calories burned, time, and distance. It comes with five pre-programmed workouts:

  • 2,000-meter row
  • 5,000-meter row
  • 10,000-meter row
  • 30-minute row
  • 500-meter row followed by a one-minute rest interval (intervals repeat until you decide to stop)

Since the monitor is Bluetooth-enabled, it also syncs to mobile apps like ErgData. I use ErgData often to create custom workouts. I’ve never had issues with it connecting to my rower. ErgData also automatically syncs your workout data to the Concept2 Online Logbook. The logbook allows you to review your workout history, participate in Concept2’s monthly challenges, and create or join a team.

That said, the PM5 monitor doesn’t provide live or on-demand classes. The RowErg comes with a device holder, though. You can follow along with classes from an app on your phone or tablet. However, you can’t create multiple user profiles on the PM5.

You need adequate space to accommodate the RowErg. It’s 96 inches long and 24 inches wide. If you don’t have enough room to leave it out all the time, you can store it vertically. Alternatively, you can detach the flywheel from the monorail and store the two pieces separately if needed. Two roller wheels at the front allow for easy maneuverability. For these reasons, our team gave it 5 out of 5 stars for portability and footprint.

The RowErg is an air rower, meaning it uses air to create resistance. Air rowers tend to be louder than magnetic or water rowers. If you share your home with others, the noise level is something to consider. I find it to be similar to a dishwasher or washing machine, but it can still be disruptive to people who are sleeping, working, or studying.

The Concept2 RowErg costs just under $1,000, which is about mid-range for a quality rowing machine. Because it’s so popular, it has a high resale value. If you need to sell your RowErg for any reason, and it’s in good condition, you can expect to get most of your money back.

What customers are saying

The Concept2 RowErg has an average of 4.9 stars based on 12,436 reviews on Amazon. Reviewers like that it is easy to assemble, low maintenance, and offers a challenging but low-impact workout. On

the r/Rowing subreddit

, the Concept2 RowErg is an overwhelming favorite among competitive and recreational rowers due to its exceptional build and performance.

“This is a fabulous rowing machine. I’ve owned rowers in the past, and while they’re kind of fundamentally similar, this has several features that make it stand out. The build quality is superior.”

Charles, verified Amazon reviewer

“This rower and the company has not only met but exceeded my expectations, and I would recommend it without hesitation,” writes another reviewer with the username Hopesbud.

The few negative reviews we could find expressed dissatisfaction with the length, noise level, and the inability to create multiple user profiles.

“You’ll need headphones if you’re trying to watch TV while rowing, unless you want to crank the volume all the way up,” writes an Amazon reviewer named Tommy.

“The manual is super basic, and doesn’t point out the value of adjusting the footrest depth, which can alter your form if you don’t have your feet in the right spot, so pay attention to making that adjustment,” Charles also writes.

Specs


Footprint
95” L x 24” W; 14- or 20-inch seat height

Weight capacity
500 lbs

Resistance type
Air

Resistance levels
10 damper settings

Monitor
3”x3” PM5 monitor with backlit LCD display

Programming
Five preset programming options

Warranty
Five-year limited frame warranty; two-year limited parts warranty

Best compact rowing machine:

Hydrow Wave

Best compact rowing machine

With over 5000 workouts to choose from, plus live classes, the Hydrow Wave is one of the smallest rowing machines available.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


With subscription


Material


Polycarbonate


Monitor


16″ touchscreen


Resistance levels


300

What you should know




Rowing machines can take up a lot of space in your home, but can be worthwhile at the right value and with the right setup. Here’s what you should know about this top compact rowing machine:


  • With an above average cost for rowing machines, the Hydrow Wave performs smoothly and quietly, and has a sturdy polycarbonate construction.

  • This is a good option for those who want a great variety of interactive workouts, however, you’ll have to pay $44 a month to gain access to them.

  • It’s one of the smallest rowing machines on the market, but at 102 pounds, it could be difficult to move or store upright.

Pros



Compact design is ideal for small spaces



Made with impact-resistant polycarbonate



Financing available through Klarna



Available in five colors: Pirate Black, River, Forest, Sunrise, and Sunset



Syncs with Apple Watches and the Strava app



Accommodates up to a 36-inch inseam

Cons



Heavy and difficult to maneuver



Requires a monthly subscription to Hydrow’s programming



Frame doesn’t fold or break down for storage



375-pound weight capacity is lower than other rowers

Why we like Hydrow Wave as best compact rowing machine

The Hydrow Wave can be an excellent choice for those with small spaces. At 80 inches long, it’s one of the shortest rowers on our list. Plus, you can store it upright—note, however, that Hydrow recommends using a wall anchor (available on Hydrow’s website for $80) to do so.

One of our team members has been testing home gym equipment for almost a decade. He used the Hydrow Wave for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and long, steady-state endurance sessions. After testing, he rated it 4.2 out of five stars overall. He noted the smoothness of the magnetic resistance, the programming options, and the impact-resistant polycarbonate frame as standout features.

“While using the rowing machine for HIIT workouts is a great way to get a total body workout, it’s important to maintain proper technique throughout the workout. Research has shown that as fatigue sets in, technique begins to degrade and puts the rower at risk for low back injuries. So, if you are just starting out on a rowing machine, take it easy to ensure proper technique prior to bumping up the intensity,” Roper recommends. (

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With the 16-inch monitor, you can follow along with rowing instructors as they row through scenic locations across the globe. The workouts range from 20-45 minutes. Most classes are on-demand, though Hydrow also hosts live workouts during the second week of each month. If you want to row at your own pace, you can choose what are called Journey rows or Distance rows. The only major difference between the two is that the Distance rows end when you hit a predetermined distance. The Journey rows can go on indefinitely.

There’s also a virtual leaderboard, which our product tester found motivating. However, you have to subscribe to Hydrow for $44 per month to access the workouts and leaderboard. This is in addition to paying for the machine itself. Our tester rated it 3.5 out of five stars for value. He noted that a cheaper rower that doesn’t require a subscription may be better for self-motivated individuals.

The Hydrow Wave uses magnetic resistance, meaning it uses magnets that interact with a metal flywheel. Adjusting the resistance level changes the proximity of the magnets to the flywheel. The closer the magnets are to the flywheel, the heavier the resistance.

Most magnetic rowers we tested felt cheap and didn’t provide a smooth rowing experience. But with the Hydrow Wave, we didn’t notice any blips in our rowing strokes. The polycarbonate frame provides superb durability and lends itself to a sleek design. However, at 102 pounds, the Wave is one of the heavier rowers we’ve tested. Our team members found it challenging to move around.

What customers are saying

On Amazon, the Hydrow Wave has 63 reviews and an average of 4.3 stars. Buyers speak highly of the build quality and enjoy the instructors’ engaging personalities. They note that watching the coaches row on open water helps the classes go by faster, particularly given the variety of backgrounds and waterways around the globe.


“It’s so much quieter and smoother than the Concept2 rowers I’ve tried at CrossFit gyms. Highly recommend—a really sturdy, quality piece of equipment with great content.”

-Brian F., verified Amazon reviewer

“I never thought I could fit a high quality rowing machine in my apartment, but the Hydrow Wave is my answer! It has a sleek compact design plus a large screen for guided workouts with absolutely gorgeous scenery,” writes a reviewer named Ariel.

Those who left negative reviews believe that the subscription cost is too pricey. Some say they would like to see more gamification elements for extra motivation.

“The actual rowing machine is well built and easy to use. In my opinion it provides an excellent, low impact workout. My problem lies in their requirement to subscribe to their online service to get the full use of the machine’s capabilities,” writes a reviewer named Mike. “This data should, in my opinion, be available without paying Hydrow a monthly fee.”

Specs


Footprint
80” L x 19” W x 43” H

Weight capacity
375 lbs

Resistance type
Magnetic

Resistance levels
50 to 300

Monitor
16-inch HD touchscreen

Programming
On-demand workouts; live classes available the second week of each month

Warranty
Five-year limited frame warranty; one-year limited parts warranty

Best rowing machine for beginners

A variety of fun workouts, plus a padded seat that’s higher off the ground, make the Aviron Strong Rower our favorite for beginners.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


1000+


Material


Aluminum/steel


Vertical storage


Yes


Monitor


22″ HD touchscreen


Resistance levels


16

What you should know




Variety and gamification can be key for motivation and keeping your workouts enjoyable. Here’s what you should know about the Aviron Strong Rower before purchasing it:


  • With over 1000 workout options across eight categories, and plenty of motivating gamification, our tester thought the Strong Rower’s programming was unmatched—though it does require a $29 monthly subscription.

  • We think the Aviron Strong Rower is one of the best smart rowers available, especially for its price, as well as being one of the most beginner-friendly.

  • At 114 pounds, this rowing machine is on the heavier side but comes with two wheels for easier maneuvering, and it doesn’t require a wall hook to store upright.

Pros



Can create unlimited user profiles



Stores upright (no wall mount required)



Footpads are adjustable in length and width



Comes with a phone holder, built-in speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity

Cons



Doesn’t fold or break down for storage



Heavier than other top-rated rowers



Requires a subscription to access workouts

Why we like Aviron Strong Rower as best rowing machine for beginners

We recommend the Aviron Strong Rower for beginners because of its impressive number of workout options. In addition to coached rowing sessions, it offers scenic rows and virtual competitions, which can help new rowers stay motivated.

It also offers gamification elements, like the ability to unlock badges and earn Aviron coins for achieving milestones. For newbies who may struggle to establish a consistent workout routine, these immersive features can help keep them engaged with their rower.

One team member, who’s also a certified personal trainer and CrossFit L1 coach, is a big fan of the Aviron brand. She considers it one of the best smart rowing machines in its price range. It costs $2,199, which is on par with other smart rowers.

Our tester believes the Aviron Strong Rower’s programming options are unmatched. You can choose between eight workout categories:

  • Games
  • Streaming
  • Live competition
  • Coached programs
  • Power play
  • Guided programs
  • Scenic rowing
  • Pros versus Joes

Hundreds of training sessions are available within each category. Another perk: the monthly subscription is just $29 per month. In comparison, a subscription to iFIT (recommended for use with NordicTrack and ProForm rowers) can cost up to $39 per month.

A unique feature of this rower is that it offers both magnetic and air resistance. You get the quietness of a magnetic rower plus the challenging effects of an air rower in one unit. In total, the 16 levels provide up to 100 pounds of resistance.

We gave the Aviron Strong Rower 4 out of 5 stars for its materials and construction. It features a sturdy steel and aluminum frame. You can adjust both the length and width of ergonomic foot pedals, which provide a stable base for you to push against as you row.

The padded seat sits 20 inches off the ground. Most rowers’ seats are only about 14 inches off the ground. The extra height makes it easier for older individuals or those with mobility restrictions to get on and off the rower.

We like that the Aviron Strong Rower stores upright and doesn’t require a wall mount to secure it. However, we wish it could break down or fold to make it even more suitable for individuals with cramped gym spaces.

Additionally, this rowing machine weighs 114 pounds. There are roller wheels on the front, but the weight can make it challenging to move.

Specs


Footprint
84” L x 27” W x 48” H

Weight capacity
507 lbs

Resistance type
Air and magnetic

Resistance levels
16 levels that go up to 100 lbs

Monitor
22-inch rotating HD touchscreen

Programming
Scenic rows; live competitions; games; guided workouts

Warranty
10-year frame warranty; one-year parts warranty (lifetime warranty available for $9 per month)

Best budget rowing machine

Despite its low price, the ProForm Pro 750R offers a stable and foldable design with good performance and optional workouts with iFit.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


Thousands


Material


Aluminum/steel


Foldable


Yes


Monitor


None


Resistance levels


24

What you should know




If your home gym budget is limited, you can still find a decent rowing machine for under $1000. Here’s what you should know about the affordable ProForm Pro 750R before purchasing it:


  • Despite being only $699, this rowing machine is sturdy and reliable, with smooth and quiet performance.

  • This rower doesn’t come with a monitor, but you can use your own tablet or smartphone to stream iFit workouts that control the machine’s resistance level using AutoAdjust.

  • Its pivoting foot pedals may offer greater comfort and would be beneficial to those with limited ankle mobility.

Pros



Pivoting foot pedals to help ankle mobility



One of the most affordable rowers on the market

Cons



Lower weight capacity than its competitors



Need to use your own device and a have a subscription to stream iFIT classes



Split times may not be as accurate as other rowers

Why we like ProForm Pro 750R as best budget rowing machine

For the lower than average price of $699, the ProForm Pro 750R is a solidly built, reliable rowing machine.

This budget-friendly rower offers 24 levels of magnetic digital resistance. Its smooth and quiet operation is ideal for people who work out early in the morning or late at night. We also like the AutoAdjust functionality. If you take an iFIT class, the instructors can remotely increase or decrease your resistance. If you take a manual row or want to override the coach’s changes, you can adjust the resistance by tapping a button on the console.

Unlike other home rowing machines that are compatible with iFIT, the Pro 750R doesn’t have a monitor that streams the classes. You have to use your own device. There is a device holder to keep your tablet or phone secure, though. The rower comes with a 30-day free trial to iFIT. If you want to renew your subscription, it costs $39 per month.

The Pro 750R also lacks conveniences like a water bottle holder and cooling fan. That’s to be expected of a rower in its price range, though.

And according to our testing team, the ergonomics and solid construction make up for it. One tester, who’s a certified personal trainer and former triathlete, rated this rower 4 out of 5 stars for durability and construction. She said it wasn’t as sturdy as Aviron or NordicTrack rowers. Still, it felt stable due to its aluminum and steel construction.

She also found the seat comfortable and enjoyed the pivoting foot pedals. The pedals move back and forth as the foot moves with each stroke. The pivoting motion can help rowers with poor ankle mobility achieve a vertical shin position during the catch (when the body is closest to the front of the machine).

At 116 pounds, the Pro 750R isn’t exactly lightweight. It does fold, though, and it has wheels at the front for portability. Our product tester didn’t have issues wheeling it around, but people new to their fitness journey may struggle to move it.

Another drawback is that this ProForm rower only has a 250-pound weight capacity. Other rowers that use similar materials and weigh about the same have much higher weight capacities.

What customers are saying

On Amazon, the Pro 750R has an average of 4 stars based on 25 reviews. Satisfied customers consider it a solid entry-level rower and appreciate how easy it was to assemble. Some praise ProForm’s helpful and friendly customer support representatives.


“To my surprise, I have found that I actually prefer this machine to the Concept 2! Not only because it just feels smoother (and it’s quiet), but the magnetic resistance provides a more controlled output.”

-Eva, verified Amazon reviewer

“Great rower! Easy to put together. Exactly what I expected with a Proform,” writes Judy B.

Buyers who left negative reviews didn’t like having to use their own devices to stream classes. Those who have also used the Concept2 rower note that the split times on the ProForm rower can be inaccurate.

“The display only shows one stat at a time without a tablet. Overly generous split time and total distance,” writes a reviewer named Brent. “Not great at high stroke rates (over 32 SPM), the band does not retract quickly enough and sags.”

Specs


Footprint
86.5″ L x 22″ W x 45.5″ H

Weight capacity
250 lbs

Resistance type
Magnetic

Resistance levels
24

Monitor
None

Programming
Compatible with iFIT

Warranty
Five-year frame; one-year parts and labor

Best smart rowing machine

Our team was impressed with the high-quality picture and sound of the NordicTrack RW900 monitor, as well as the variety of workouts.

Product Details




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


Thousands


Material


Aluminum/steel


Vertical storage


No


Montior


22” swivel touchscreen


Resistance levels


26

What you should know




There are many smart rowing machines on the market, so here’s what you should know about the NordicTrack RW900 before making your purchase:


  • Our tester enjoyed the soft-touch, grippy handle and how smoothly the seat could glide.

  • The NordicTrack RW900 is a great option for those who want a large, high-quality monitor and an impressive selection of workouts

  • This rower is the heaviest on our list and hard to move, but the monitor can swivel, making it easy for users to also do non-rowing workouts with iFit.

Pros



Clear, high-quality graphics on the built-in monitor



Swiveling monitor makes it easy to do iFIT workouts off the rower



Includes a 30-day trial to iFIT

Cons



Can’t fold or store upright



Only has a 250-pound weight limit

Why we like NordicTrack RW900 as best smart rowing machine

The NordicTrack RW900 is our pick for the best smart rowing machine because of its impressive 22-inch swivel touchscreen monitor and compatibility with iFIT. The iFIT programming is so diverse that it’s nearly impossible to get bored. The monitor also delivers crystal-clear graphics and impressive sound quality. The RW900 earned a solid 4.1 out of 5 stars overall from our product reviewers.

Because this is a magnetic rower, it’s virtually silent when in use. It provides 26 levels of resistance and comes with AutoAdjust capabilities. If you take an iFIT class, the instructors can adjust the resistance remotely.

The handlebars feature a soft-touch coating. Our team members noted the handles were comfortable to hold. They also noted that it was easy to maintain their grip when their hands got sweaty. But the pivoting foot pedals brought down our rating for ergonomics to 3.75 out of five. Our main product tester said they felt awkward since she’s used to the stationary footpads on the Concept2 rower.

If your space is limited, we recommend looking at other options. The RW900 has a large footprint of 82″ L x 22″ W x 54″ H. You can’t fold it or store it upright due to the large monitor.

It’s also a hefty machine. The in-box weight is 163 pounds, making it the heaviest rower on our list. It has transport wheels on the front, but our product tester had to tilt it up high to get the wheels to move smoothly.

However, you need to plug this rower into an outlet. You most likely won’t move it around much once you’ve placed it in its permanent location. This is one of the biggest concerns we had during testing. Many of our team members like taking their rowers outside when the weather cooperates.

The 250-pound weight limit is another drawback, especially considering the machine’s size and weight. Other rowers we’ve tested, like the Concept2 and Hydrow Wave, can hold at least 375 pounds. But our product tester didn’t notice any shaking or wobbling during use. She also commented on how smoothly the seat glided over the rail.

What customers are saying

Based on 27 reviews on Amazon, the RW900 has an average rating of 3.8 stars. Customers appreciate the high seat, quiet operation, and how smoothly the seat glides over the rail.


“Little pricy but love the rower. Doesn’t sit low to the ground like some of the other rowers.”

-AJ, verified Amazon reviewer

Negative Amazon reviews cite issues with durability, connectivity, and customer support. Some have also said it can take several weeks to receive replacement parts from the company.

Specs


Footprint
82″ L x 22″ W x 54″ H

Weight capacity
250 lbs

Resistance type
Magnetic

Resistance levels
26

Monitor
22-inch tilt and pivot smart HD touchscreen

Programming
iFIT

Warranty
10-year frame; two-year parts; one-year labor

Best magnetic rowing machine:

Echelon Row-s

Best magnetic rowing machine

The Echelon Row-s has an impressive 32 levels of magnetic resistance, plus you can easily change levels with handlebar buttons.

Key product features




Trial period


Membership only


Workouts


40+ live, daily


Material


Aluminum/steel


Foldable


Yes


Monitor


22″ touchscreen


Resistance levels


32

What you should know




Out of all the magnetic-resistance rowers on the market, we selected the Echelon Row-s as our favorite. Here’s what you should know about it before buying:


  • This magnetic-resistance rower has 32 levels of resistance, plus the ability to change levels easily using buttons on the handlebar.

  • The Echelon Row-s would be perfect for those looking for a foldable rower that can easily be stored away that also has low noise levels.

  • You can get access to over 40 live classes daily, plus hundreds of on-demand classes, with an Echelon Premium membership

Pros



Can set up five user profiles



22-inch monitor that rotates 180° for off-rower workouts



Can easily adjust resistance levels with handlebar buttons

Cons



Angled handlebars may be uncomfortable for some to hold



Lots of plastic means less durability

Why we like Echelon Row-s as best magnetic rowing machine

After testing nearly 20 rowers, we awarded the Echelon Row-s as the best magnetic option. It offers 32 adjustable resistance levels, more than most magnetic rowers we reviewed. We also enjoyed how easy it is to adjust the resistance using the Bluetooth handlebar rather than tapping buttons on a monitor. Plus, with over 40 new live classes available daily and hundreds of on-demand sessions, you’re unlikely to get bored.

An Echelon Premier membership starts at $40 per month, or you can get off-equipment workouts only with FitPass for $12 per month. Our team enjoyed the variety of classes available. One of our expert product testers, a CrossFit L-1 coach, liked the instructors’ high energy levels. However, she called out their poor rowing technique as a drawback, noting that copying their form could lead to injuries. (

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)  She rated the programming 3.75 stars out of five.

“Like any exercise, form is critical—quality over quantity—and poor rowing form can set someone up for a variety of  injuries,” says performance coach Dr. Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD.

Our product tester also didn’t like how much plastic the Echelon Row-s contains. Plastic can break down quickly, especially if several people use the machine often. You can get a Concept2 rower made almost entirely of aluminum and steel for a lower price. Still, our reviewer noted that the Row-s felt stable due to its 350-pound weight capacity.

Our team members said the seat was more comfortable than they expected. However, they didn’t like the angle of the handlebar, which is more aggressive than that on the Concept2 rower. They found that it felt heavier and more awkward to pull the longer they rowed.

Those with cramped spaces will be pleased to know that the Row-s folds in half. The transport wheels on the front spin smoothly, making the machine easy to move. But the fact that you have to plug it in may limit the locations in your home where you can place it.

What customers are saying

On Amazon, the Row-s has garnered 280 reviews and an average rating of 4.1 stars. Buyers noted the low noise level, workout variety, and controls on the handles as standout features.


“I really like this rower. It’s almost silent. It’s very solid, not a lot of plastic, and feels great. Assembly was relatively straightforward and not difficult.”

-Will, verified Amazon reviewer

“This is not the best rower you can purchase, however it is very easy to set up and very quiet to use, and the convenient resistance controls on the handle are great. The one thing I will definitely say is Echelon stands behind their products and their support staff is fantastic,” writes a reviewer named Debra.

According to some customers, there can be a lag time when changing resistance levels. Other users are unhappy with the frequent firmware and software updates.

“I found the classes to be alright, the music was not to my taste and overall production value was mid-range at best,” writes Will.

Specs


Footprint
84” L x 21” W X 45” H

Weight capacity
350 lbs

Resistance type
Magnetic

Resistance levels
32

Monitor
22-inch touchscreen

Programming
Echelon Fit

Warranty
One year; ten-year on frame

Best commercial rowing machine:

Ergatta Rower

Best commercial rowing machine

The Ergatta Rower is a commercial-grade rowing machine that balances good (and quiet) performance with a beautiful design.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


Thousands


Material


Cherry wood


Vertical storage


Yes


Monitor


17.3” HD touchscreen


Resistance


By water level

What you should know




Commercial-grade rowing machines are reliable and built to last, and the Ergatta is one of the few with an aesthetic that’ll match the rest of your home. Here’s what you should know before purchasing it:


  • Although it has a higher than average price of $2,299, the Ergatta Rower features a beautiful cherry wood construction and quiet water resistance.

  • The Ergatta Rower is suitable for a wide range of users with its ability to fit individuals up to 6’8” tall and its 500-pound weight limit.

  • You can get access to AI coaching, tutorials, and structured rowing programs with your Ergatta membership.

Pros



Designed and engineered in the U.S.



Aesthetically pleasing design



Lifetime supply of water purification tablets provided

Cons



Cannot easily change resistance levels



Monthly membership required



Water tank needs regular maintenance

Why we like Ergatta Rower as best commercial rowing machine

Ergatta’s cherry wood construction would fit well in most homes, but its sturdy design and great performance makes it equally suitable for commercial gyms. (In fact, some commercial gyms, like Orangetheory Fitness, do have water rowers.) The stained coating helps protect the wood from damage against sweat. This is beneficial in high-traffic gyms, where many people would use the machine daily.

The Ergatta can also fit individuals up to 6’8” and has a 500-pound weight limit. A wide range of athletes can train on it comfortably.

Our team gave Ergatta four out of five stars for ergonomics. They noted that the seat and handlebars were comfortable enough but didn’t seem noteworthy compared to other rowers. However, they did like how effortlessly the seat glided over the rail.

Like the WaterRower, the Ergatta rowing machine requires regular maintenance. Algae can develop in the water tank after several weeks if you don’t clean the drum or replace the water regularly. However, the company provides a lifetime supply of water purification tablets. If you add those to the tank, Ergatta says you’ll never need to replace the water.

It also provides games and race workouts to help you feel more engaged. One of our product testers said she felt like she was playing an arcade video game. She wasn’t a fan of the racing programming, though. You don’t compete against other users in real time, which takes some of the fun out of it.

An Ergatta membership starts at $29 per month. In addition to the games and competitions, it gives you access to rowing tutorials, AI coaching feedback, and manual “just row” options.

The one major drawback is that it’s more difficult to adjust the resistance levels. The rower comes with a siphon for adding and removing water from the tank. But you still need to put in more work than you would on a magnetic rower to change the resistance.

Specs


Footprint
86” L x 23” W X 40” H

Weight capacity
500 lbs

Resistance type
Water

Resistance levels
Dependent on water level

Monitor
17.3-inch HD touchscreen monitor

Programming
Ergatta membership

Warranty
Five years

Best foldable rowing machine

The LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Indoor Rower is a lighter-than-average, foldable rowing machine with a basic design for under $1000.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


None


Vertical storage


Vertical storage


Monitor


Monitor


Resistance levels


Resistance levels

What you should know




Many modern rowers are foldable and can be stored upright, but the bigger the build (and often, the more features) the heavier and less easier it may be to actually store. Here’s what you should know about our favorite foldable rower:


  • The rower only tracks basic stats like distance, stroke count, strokes per minute, and calories.

  • The LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 is best for those who want to save space with a foldable and lighter-than-average rowing machine, quiet operation, and a comfortable fit—but is not best for serious athletes

  • Overall, it’s a basic rower with no programmed workouts or extra features, but it comes with a longer-than-average, 10-year warranty on the frame.

Pros



Financing available through Bread Pay or Splitit



Full refund after 30 days if you don’t like it

Cons



Fabric belt can wear down over time



Doesn’t track advanced performance metrics

Why we like LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Indoor Rower as best foldable rowing machine

If you don’t have enough space to leave your rower out all the time, consider the LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rower. You can fold the rail up when the rower isn’t in use, reducing its footprint to about two feet in depth.

The 14-inch wide seat boasts foam padding and a contoured design. Sitting on a rower seat for a long time can cause discomfort on the backside, but these features can help make your workout more comfortable.

At 98 pounds, the RW1000 is lighter than most other rowers we tested. Even so, it’s not the most portable machine because it doesn’t have wheels.

The LifeSpan RW1000 only tracks basic stats like distance, stroke count, strokes per minute, and calories. It doesn’t track split times, watts, or other advanced metrics. We recommend serious athletes consider a rowing machine with better performance tracking capabilities.

For a no-frills rower, we wish it were more affordable. It costs about $899, which isn’t much cheaper than the more advanced Concept2 RowErg. However, LifeSpan offers free shipping. This perk can help you save $100 or more. Financing is also available through Bread Pay or Splitit.

According to our product testers, the fabric pulley strap could wear down quickly. LifeSpan offers a two-year parts warranty and a one-year labor warranty, though. If the strap breaks within those time frames, you may be covered.

One final callout: The RW1000 only provides five resistance levels. This may be enough for people who are just trying to get some additional movement during the day. But for those who are already far along on their fitness journeys, the small number of resistance levels may be too limiting.

What customers are saying

As of this writing, there are 129 Amazon reviews on the RW1000. The machine has an average of 3.5 stars. Several buyers speak positively of the lightweight build, foldable design, and quiet operation.


“The unit seems to be very sturdy. The seat is fairly comfortable and the velcro foot straps securely hold my feet during the workout. Probably one of the biggest things I noticed during my workout is how relatively quiet the machine is.”

-Hap, verified Amazon reviewer

Disappointed buyers say they wish the rower had ANT++ or Bluetooth capabilities. They also don’t think it’s worth the full retail price since it has a basic display and doesn’t provide a lot of resistance levels.

“Even on the highest setting, there’s simply not enough resistance for someone who wants to push themselves,” writes a reviewer named Sam. “I suppose that if all you want is some moderate exercise, then it’s enough, but if you want to get the most of this type of exercise, you’ll have to look elsewhere.”

Specs


Footprint
90″ L x 18.5″ W x 23″ H

Weight capacity
300 lbs

Resistance type
Magnetic

Resistance levels
Five

Monitor
LCD display

Programming
None

Warranty
10-year frame; two-year parts; one-year labor

Best water rowing machine

Modeled after its namesake, the WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine offers high-performance indoor rowing in a minimal, elegant design.

Key product features




Trial period


30 days


Workouts


None


Material


Oak wood


Vertical storage


Yes


Montior


LCD


Resistance


By water level

What you should know




The first WaterRower was designed to mimic the smooth feel and sounds of open-water rowing. Here’s what you should know about the WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine:


  • This model is much the same as the original WaterRower designed by Yale engineer and U.S. National Rowing Team candidate John Duke in 1988.

  • Available for $1,189, the WaterRower is right around the average cost for rowing machines.

  • The WaterRower is perfect for those who prefer the elegant look of wood over aluminum, steel, and plastic—along with great, quiet performance.

Pros



Financing available through Bread Pay



Complimentary three-year supply of water purification tablets available



700-pound weight capacity

Cons



Suboptimal placement of the monitor



No built-in classes or workouts

Why we like WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine as best water rowing machine

Some rowers, like the WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine, have tanks that you fill with water to create resistance. They emulate the feeling of rowing in a boat. They also make swooshing noises that some people find soothing. If you’re in the market for a water rower, this WaterRower model is an excellent choice due to its sleek design and superb performance.

Made with solid oak wood and finished with Danish oil, this rowing machine looks more elegant than aluminum and steel rowers. The wood helps absorb sounds and vibrations, so you can work out without disturbing others in your home.

We haven’t tested this WaterRower, but we have trained on the Ergatta Rower. The two machines are nearly identical. The one notable difference is the location of the monitor. On Ergatta, the monitor is straight in front of you. On the WaterRower, it sits down by your right foot. Having to keep looking down to view your training stats can feel awkward.

Another major difference between the two rowers is that the Ergatta offers games and guided workouts. The monitor on the WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine only displays metrics such as stroke rate, intensity, distance, and duration.

With its 700-pound weight capacity, the WaterRower Oak Rowing Machine is a sturdy machine. Built-in floor stabilizers help keep it stable and balanced. Plus, it’s much quieter than an air rower since there’s no air blowing through the flywheel.

However, the tank may be prone to leakage. We recommend placing a rubber mat underneath the machine, especially if you have hardwood floors. And unless you want to clean mold and algae from the drum frequently, you should put water purification tablets in the tank. After you purchase your rower, you can fill out a form on the company’s website to get a complimentary three-year supply of tablets.

What customers are saying

The WaterRower has 167 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.2 stars. Those who left positive reviews love the design and quiet operation.


“We are more than pleased with this piece of equipment. Especially since as former marathoners and now old-timers, this machine really helps us regain the mobility and flexibility we lost over the years.”

-C. Yamagata, verified Amazon reviewer

A few unhappy customers said their machines arrived damaged. A handful of buyers also wish the monitor was able to sync with Bluetooth heart rate monitors.

“The S4 monitor that comes with the unit does a decent job of tracking your stats. But if you are looking for a challenge, you probably need to subscribe to a service,” writes Yamagata.

Specs


Footprint
82″ L x 20″ H x 22″ W

Weight capacity
700 lbs

Resistance type
Water

Resistance levels
N/A

Monitor
LCD monitor

Programming
None

Warranty
One year

How we test rowing machines

Our team has tested more than 20 rowers. We’ve used them for CrossFit workouts, steady-state cardio sessions, interval training, warm-ups, and cool-downs. After training on each machine for several weeks, we ranked each one based on the factors below:

Testing criteria

Performance—30%

A rowing machine is an investment in your health and longevity. That means it needs to perform reliably for months and years to see the benefits you want. And it’s why we test the majority of the equipment we review in person in one of our dedicated testing facilities.

Here’s what we look for:


  • Material quality

  • Durability

  • Versatility

Customer experience—30%

It could be that fear of assembling equipment or being stuck on hold with customer service has kept you from investing in a rowing machine so far. We feel your pain. That’s why we strive to highlight the companies and products that have their customer experience dialed in. Our factors in this rating include:


  • Warranty

  • Shipping costs

  • Equipment setup

  • Packaging and delivery

  • Customer service

Value—15%

Rowing machines can cost hundreds, or they can cost thousands—and a higher price doesn’t always mean a better experience. This is where having a team of testing experts truly matters. We know the fitness equipment market and can say what a piece of equipment should cost based on all our rating factors.

If we spot premium equipment at a not-so-premium price, we’ll let you know. Similarly, if we find equipment that costs significantly more than the competition but doesn’t offer any unique features that justify the cost, we’ll warn you about that in our reviews.

Size—15%

Why doesn’t everybody have a rowing machine in their house? Space has a lot to do with it. That’s why we always include the overall footprint in our ratings. If a rowing machine can provide superior performance while taking up less space, that’s a point in its favor.

We also rank rowing machines more favorably if they fold and/or have wheels for portability. These features make the products suitable for as many consumers as possible.

Extra options—10%

Does a rowing machine offer an especially easy-to-use interface? Or maybe its training programs are head-and-shoulders above the competition. Perhaps it includes extra perks like a water bottle holder or built-in speakers. Our testers know what’s “average,” and they’ll let you know when a product goes above and beyond.

FAQs


Is a rowing machine good for weight loss?



A rowing machine can help support weight loss because it offers a full-body cardiovascular workout. (



4



) A 185-pound person can burn up to 881 calories per hour on a rower. (

5



) But diet is the most important component of any weight loss plan. If you eat more calories than you burn each day, you’ll struggle to reach your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.


Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?



It is possible to lose fat on a rowing machine, when combined with diet to provide a calorie deficit. No exercise, machine, or tool can spot reduce, however, so rowing cannot specifically cause a person to lose belly fat. Also, remember that genetics play a large role in fat loss. If you’re genetically predisposed to store fat in your midsection, rowing alone may not help you lose belly fat, but as a great form of exercise can support a healthy lifestyle.


How long should you row for?



How long you should row depends on your goals and lifestyle. If you have a busy schedule, you can complete an effective, high-intensity rowing workout in 10-15 minutes. If you want to improve your aerobic capacity and meet physical activity guidelines, rowing upwards of 30 minutes at a steady pace can support those goals. (



6



) For an extra challenge, you can even adapt the


12-3-30 workout


for your rower. But instead of setting the machine to a 12% incline, set it to a higher resistance level than you normally would, as long as you are able to maintain proper form and the quality of your row doesn’t suffer. Find a tough but manageable pace, and try to row for 30 minutes without stopping, if you’re physically able.


How often should you row?



According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or


at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week


. (



6



) Rowing for 15-30 minutes five days per week can help you reach those targets. However, you can break up your workouts in whatever way best fits your schedule.


What muscles does a rowing machine work?



A rowing machine works 85% of the body’s muscle groups. It primarily trains the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back muscles. It also works the biceps, triceps, traps, lats, and shoulders, in addition to demanding a large volume of training for strength, power, endurance, and exercise capacity. (



7



)

Our experts


Dr. Jen Roper, PhD, CSCS

Dr. Roper is an associate professor of health and human sciences at Loyola Marymount University. She received her PhD in physical education, sports and exercise science in 2015 from the University of New Mexico, with a specialization in exercise science and biomechanics. She has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association since 2014.


Dr. Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD

Dr. Mohr is an internationally recognized subject matter expert, guest speaker, and performance coach, and has worked as the sports nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals and select WWE wrestlers. Through his facilitation and online resources, he works closely with some of the largest corporations in the world including Deloitte, Delta Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, and more to help busy executives develop the energy to thrive personally and professionally.


Jessica Coulon

Jessica Coulon is a contributing editor and writer for Fortune Recommends. A graduate of Drexel University, she specializes in fitness, health, nutrition, and science content. Previously, she was an editor for Popular Mechanics and Bicycling, where she covered pro cycling news, wrote how-to guides, and tested all the latest and greatest bike gear. She was also a regular shoe tester and contributor for Runner’s World. You can often find her skiing or riding her mountain bike, and racing with the F1RE female enduro team.

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak

Fortune Recommends Editor

About Author


After working in digital marketing for 12 years, Amanda Dvorak decided to leave that industry behind and pursue her true passion: writing. She has been writing fitness and nutrition content since 2021 and has contributed to Breaking Muscle, BarBend, Fitbod, FeastGood, and PowerliftingTechnique. Amanda has been doing CrossFit off and on since 2015, with a few stints of casual powerlifting in between. She also enjoys running, taking Peloton classes, and hiking.


Amanda is currently studying to become a certified personal trainer through the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). When she’s not training, working, or reading about fitness, you can find her taking walks with her husband Eric and their dog Charlie; trying to control her two rambunctious cats, Raven and Riley; and spending time with her family.

Sources

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