In the rowing machine category, there are a lot of models to chose from. They range in price from under $100 to well over $1500.  As you can imagine, you’re getting a different type of row machine at those ends of the spectrum, but within that variety there’s something for everyone.  To help guide you, we’ve listed our favorite row machine models and brands by price below:
It's been nearly 30 years since John Duke, a former Yale University and USA National Team oarsman, set up a small shop in Rhode Island, USA to begin fine-tuning his innovative water-resistant rowing machine. With its beautiful design and unmatched feel, the WaterRower quickly gained a cult-like following of both on-water rowers and fitness enthusiasts that had found their perfect piece of workout equipment. As word spread of the new product that simulated the feel of on-water rowing, WaterRower transitioned from simply a one-off product found within the occasional boathouse to an established brand in both the rowing and fitness world.
This elegant rowing machine builds strength and stamina by closely simulating a real world rowing experience. Its patented Waterflywheel, which moves through actual water, provides a smooth stroke that exercises 84% of your muscle mass evenly and prevents injuries. When not in use, the WaterRower can be stored vertically against a wall. Made in the USA from ethically sourced walnut wood. Assembly required.
Absolutely beautiful piece of functional furniture. I use this rower 3-5 times per week. The display is a little awkward and not nearly as advanced as the competition but for anyone short of a pro, it provides all the basic functions you could want. I've used plenty of rowers in gyms but this was my first purchase for home use. It was an excellent alternative to running outdoors in the winter and as an alternative to running when the legs need a little more recovery time. I have it set in the middle of it's resistance range and it is still plenty challenging. So there is a ton of adjustability in that regard. It's not quickly changed but for a single user device this doesn't matter. It's a different feeling than an air fan but I really like it.
There is much to love about the WaterRower--and I do love it--but I would echo others' comments that although the seat rolls solidly and smoothly on the wood rails, the seat itself is very hard (I use a gel seat pad I bought for my hard fiberglass kayak seat), and the footpads are in need up rethinking and upgrading--the cheap plastic doesn't let you row in socks or barefoot and is not really worthy of a machine that is otherwise a stunning piece of engineering and a beautiful one as well. As one other person noted about his machine, my machine made a clicking noise on the return stroke, so I had to adjust the wheel underneath the top rail that connects to the footpad and pull it away gently from where it was rubbing against another component. Also, be warned: the instruction booklet is in the DVD case. I did not see the little sticker on the case telling me that, thinking I'd wait to watch the DVD until after I'd assembled it. But WaterRower has a copy of the assembly instructions on their website, along with a video (I found the written ones better and easier to follow), so I was able to assemble it with no difficulty.
Comparing the rowing machine to the stationary bike, the rowing machine is superior in terms of calories burned. Yet, it’s important to note that the stationary bike is also easy on the joints and only includes the lower body. So, if you have any upper body problems then the stationary bike will be a much better choice. In 30 minutes of cycling 12-13 miles per hour, an 125lb individual will burn around 225-250 calories.
Row, Jimmy, row…🎶 What’s one of the best things about using the WaterRower? There’s no such thing as an age limit when it comes to using it because of its ability to provide a workout with minimal impact on the joints. You don’t have to take our word for it, but we think you might want to take this fellas. Jimmy is 93 years young and hopped on the WaterRower for the first time yesterday. Let’s hear it for Jimmy!
After reading so many fantastic reviews I purchased the Classic model. Before I write what I think are the negative aspects I'll say that it gives a great workout! That is pretty obvious and I don't think that part is arguable. The disappointment began while unpacking. The wood parts were wrapped fairly well and did not have damage but there were several scratches that I had to sand out and re-oil. It appears that they were there before shipping. Putting it together would have been fast and easy- except 2 of the bolts were bent at about 15 degrees and would not fit. I had to wrap with tape and bend with vice grips. After getting it all together the rower worked well for about a week. I started to notice an annoying kind of popping sound from the left rail as the wheels rolled over on each stroke and recovery. It seems the plastic that the wheels ride on is not flat or adhered well to the rail. It isn't very loud but I can hear it well and it gets my attention, spoiling the nice sound of the water. Really disturbing. Support at WaterRower would like a video of the issue. Seems like an obvious issue and could swap out with a rail that is good instead of me trying to make a video of this small sound while moving the seat back and forth. For a $1500 machine the quality control- or lack of it is disturbing. Having to jump through a bunch of hoops because they are too cheap to just send a part is even more so. Perhaps I am being difficult but it is upsetting to have something touted as so great but put together like a $200 piece of junk. Another complaint would be the lack of any back lighting on the monitor. Really cannot see it if the lights are low. Being able to remove the monitor to attach to a PC wouldn't hurt either. While it gives a good workout the rower really suffers from poor manufacturing.
Noise level is another large factor that tips the scale more towards water rowers. Air rowers make a fairly loud “whooshing” noise every stroke, which makes them bad for people who like watching TV, have sleeping children, live in apartments, or like working out early in the AM. Water rowers do make some noise but the splashing of water in the tank is a lot quieter and more soothing than the fan noise produced by air rowers.
The Waterrower has recently been made famous by Kevin Spacy as the rowing machine used in the ‘House of Cards’. It is a type of wooden rowing machine produced and manufactured by Waterrower Inc. in New England, USA. The rowers were designed by ex-US national team rower john Duke in the mid 1980’s and the company to manufacture them was established in 1988.
 The amount of water in the tank simulates the weight of the boat and crew, the more water in the tank the heavier the boat and crew. The standard Calibration Level is Level 17. If the user is lighter in weight, Level 15-16 can be used. If the user is heavier in weight, level 18-19 can be used. The maximum level to fill the tank is Level 19. DO NOT fill above the maximum level – this could void the warranty.
When feet are in position and you are seated, ensure you are sitting in a tall yet relaxed position. Try to feel as if you are sitting on your ‘sit’ or ischia bones and rock slightly forwards and backwards on these bones. Your body weight will move from the front to the back of the seat. Ensure you are sitting with a locked core, shoulders relaxed and head looking forwards.
The Classic Rowing Machine is designed is extremely easy to use. Additionally, it has a lot of comfort features in its design. It has an ergonomically shaped handle and padded heel rests that accommodate nearly everyone. Everything on the machine can be adjusted quickly. Because there are no movement parts, maintenance is minimal. Even the computer has a lot of one button operations, so the minute you have the rower assembled, you can get to work.
The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine includes the excellent PM5 monitor that provides all vital data. It can display your workout performance in two ways. You can choose to see your workout in total distance and time, or as “splits”. Splits is a way of seeing how your pace is varying along two set points. Either way is useful, but splits give you more of a “real-time”, in the moment calculation of how you are doing.

Noise level is another large factor that tips the scale more towards water rowers. Air rowers make a fairly loud “whooshing” noise every stroke, which makes them bad for people who like watching TV, have sleeping children, live in apartments, or like working out early in the AM. Water rowers do make some noise but the splashing of water in the tank is a lot quieter and more soothing than the fan noise produced by air rowers.
As with any fitness activity, it’s important to exercise with proper technique, however. The big muscles in the legs are where most of the workout action should be. Injury to the lower back can occur from bending too far forward in the row. It’s best to maintain a upright 90 degree angle to the rowing machine’s seat and slider bar. Using the legs for the motion rather than relying as heavily on the back or arms can help reduce the chance of muscle pulls or other related injuries. Always check with a physician before starting any new fitness regimen.
John Duke, creator of the WaterRower, was inspired to try his hand at invention while working at a subsidiary for U.S. Steel. He wanted to make an indoor machine that felt as much like real rowing as possible, with a focus on aesthetics. It took him two years to get the design right, moving past failed ideas such as a flipper in the tank instead of a clutch. What began as a series of doodles at his desk turned into a sculptural piece of exercise equipment that upends expectations in two ways: by bringing water indoors, and by looking elegant and artful when stored.
From a fitness perspective, the WaterRower Natural works 84 percent of your muscle mass, helping tone and strengthen your muscles while burning far more calories than most other aerobic machines. The exercise is also low impact, as it removes all the body weight from the ankles, knees, and hips, but still moves the limbs and joints through a full range of motion--from completely extended to completely contracted.
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