Updated: December 2017
Rowing Machines Reviews:Rowing machines have been around for years, but as health clubs and fitness centers became more modern, rowing machines got better and smoother to operate. I remember using one in the early 1980's that was rigid and jerky, enough that you didn't want to exercise on it any more. The new rowing machines simulate the rowing motion very well and they help your body ergonomically. Not only are the rowing machines at gyms better than ever, the home rowing machines you can buy will give you a great workout. Avid rowers that prefer rowing on the water have come to recognize that home rowers offer the same training except you don't have to deal with the weather and outdoor elements. Rowing machines give an excellent low impact, all-around workout that almost anyone can do. Before buying a rowing machine, consider a few things like how much space you have available. Most rowing machines are 6 feet long and some are fold-up types that can be stored in a smaller space if needed. Rowing machines create resistance in 1 of 4 ways - we will discuss the various types below.
Hydraulic resistance rowers are found in cheaper rowing machines and use compressed fluid or air in pistons or cylinders to get the resistance. They tend to be fold-up style machines, great for tighter areas. It's a good idea to get down on the machine in the store to make sure there is sufficient legroom, as some of these models are restrictive and don't allow a free flowing, natural motion. Air, or flywheel, resistance rowers simulate outdoor rowing and are found in many gyms even today. The pulling action creates the resistance and that spins a flywheel which is attached to a fan. The faster you pull, the great the resistance. Good, quiet rowers use magnetic resistance again using a flywheel design only this time magnetic braking creates the resistance. You get a smooth and comfortable workout in these mid to high range exercise machines. Lastly, there are water resistant rowing machines that use a special water flywheel that performs just like a boat moving through the water. Often built with wooden frames, they are expensive, but nearly silent while in use. Rowing machines can put your shoulder and lower back at risk if they don't fit you properly. Make sure the seat is comfortable and that it glides along the rails smoothly. Like exercise bikes, most rowing machines will come with some kind of console with buttons for workout options and readings for calories burned, heart rate, and distance rowed. The top brand names in rowing machines are BodyCraft, Edge, First Degree Fitness, Integrity, Kettler, LifeCore Fitness, Life Gear, Phoenix, Schwinn, Source Plus, Stamina, Tunturi and WaterRower. Concept 2 is another company that produces some great indoor rowers. The new Model from Concept 2 retails for $1200 and is an excellent low maintenance machine with a performance monitor, one-piece leg design, and a fully enclosed chain for easy cleaning. I use a Tunturi R60 Rowing Machine ($1199) at my local gym and feel like it's the best exercise rowing machine I have ever used. The magnetic resistance has a push button resistance control, pre-set programs and workout profiles, and is quite smooth. BEST VALUE - When it comes to value we consider the Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine one to look at. The Kettler rowing machine is an outrigger style and simulates rowing on water quite nicely. The resistance setting goes from 1 to 12 so you are guaranteed a great workout right in your home. You get features like number of oar strokes, speed of strokes, distance covered, time measurement. The weight capacity a bit limited at just 250 lbs. You can browse the top selling rowing machines online here.