EdThis is definitely one of those questions that people ask a lot. You are growing your home gym, or you want a new piece of workout equipment, or you just like rowing and want that at home. The concept 2 is so expensive...do I really need it?
This is not an extensive review of indoor rowing machines as I have not had the honor of trying them all out. However I have been on a few, so I am just putting some of the basics down for you and sharing my thoughts.
First off, here are the common indoor rowing machines.
Concept 2 - They make a few models, A, B, C, D, E, and Dynamic. This brand is considered the "gold standard" for rowing as it is designed to mimic rowing on the water and the numbers on the machine match water rowing most accurately compared to other models. However, people don't always want to spend $1000 on it, so lower price point options are usually a question. Concept 2 doesn't really go on sale, but they keep their value VERY well. When someone sells them secondhand, they tend to go quick, so if you are looking, $650 is usually the lower price point, but you need to search for them.
Velocity - The velocity magnetic rower is at a lower price point of roughly $539, making it more affordable for a home gym. However, I have used this one in some hotel gyms, and I am not a fan. It doesn't feel like rowing on the water at all, the seat felt clunky, and the control machine is very low, making me want to look down while I row, which is not ideal. I am also short, so the handle felt like it was too high, but it could also be that I am not used to that machine.
Water Rower - This is another big one that people often get. It is known for being in Orange Theory Fitness gyms and they have numerous models for gym owners and home owners. My mom actually has one of these in her bedroom, so I have had the privilege of trying this one out in a few models. First off, I am short, 5'3", my mom is 4'11". So we are both short but we have different views on the machine. I find that the cord hits the bottom of its area sometimes and it worries me that it might fray over time. My mom says she only notices it sometimes. The other part about this machine is that if you have wider hips or shoulders, it may not be ideal. This is because the foot holders are actually closer together than on other machines, so it can force your feet and hips into a non optimal position that could end up causing injuries and imbalances. They do make something you can switch out to make it more wide, but not many people do this. The positive to this machine is the water sound. A lot of people like the whoosh sound and find it more appealing than a machine/flywheel sound. So this is a high contender, but also a little more pricey. I believe you can try it out and return it if you don't like it, but look into it and don't take my word for it. This machine also goes off water resistance as opposed to air resistance, so it gives a different feel to it.
Edit: After speaking with Waterrower - if your band hits, it might be that the recoil belt needs to be adjusted. Contact them and they can help. Good to know!
Stamina - Conversion II - This is a recumbent rower/bike. It gives some back support which is great for people who might need that extra support. It also works as a bike, so that's pretty neat. This one goes for roughly $799, so also a higher price tag, but its multiuse makes it have an added bonus. If you are looking to do water rowing, on the water, this one isn't ideal since it limits your movement that you would need on the water unless you are using adaptive equipment in a boat too.
Sunnyhealth and Lifestyle also make magnetic resistance machines. I have tried one of each and found them very bulky, not smooth, and didn't feel like rowing on the water at all. Maybe it's the magnetic resistance, but I am not a fan. The cord is higher, the feet are lower compared to the seat height, and that all changes your mobility and flexibility requirements and changes how the rowing form feels. However, I'd say try it and see if you like it.
NordicTrack - They make three models I believe. The RW200, RW500, and RW900. The 500 and 900 come with a screen and workouts. However the price tag on the 900 is is roughly $1600 USD and the 500 is roughly $999 USD. The 200 doesn't have a screen and is about $799. At that price point, I would search for a used Concept 2. To be honest, I haven't tried this machine, so I can't give you much info, but I would search and see if you can try one. If you want workouts right there in front of you to motivate you, it's probably worth it. If you do other workouts and don't need tht motivation or want to watch a movie or something when rowing, than I'd try another machine.
Hydrow - This is another common machine that people are starting to get as it also includes workout routines. There workouts are designed more to show you someone rowing on the water in order to give you that feel as opposed to a workout gym type routine like the NordicTrack. Unfortunately this one is currently sold out as it just launched, but worth looking further into after people have tried it and written reviews.
Hope this helps a little, but it's just my views. I haven't been able to try them all, but if I do try a new one, I will give an update and more info.
Here is a link to someone who actually reviewed some of the machines.
Feel free to share your thoughts and your favorite machine!
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Amanda Painter is the Rowing Doc. She is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and is here to help people stay active and rowing without aches and pains so they can keep doing what they love!