Both the air rower and water rower machines are very popular choices of rowing equipment, particularly the former type. They have been around in the 80s, and many consumers and those that have tried them in gyms consider the equipment to be the best type ever. These air resistance equipment, often regarded as Ergometers, is the standard base model for indoor rowing sport.
We picked the brains of rowing coaches, fitness experts, and physical therapists to learn what features make for an exceptional rower. Based on their input, we searched the market for air and water resistance rowing machines, then tested the best for ride feel and design. We found one model of each type — air resistance and water resistance — that felt truly superior to the others.
 Bring the unparalleled full-body workout of on-the-water rowing home with the premium design and feel of the XTERRA Fitness ERG600W Water Rower. The full body rhythmic nature of rowing makes it wonderfully efficient at burning calories while also developing flexibility and strength. Plus, the "zen-like" water movement you hear from the ERG600W multi-bladed impeller can be soothing and meditative. The large and easy to read 5.5" LCD console with height and angle adjustment includes motivating programmable modes to keep you involved, inspired, and reaching your goals.
Bring the experience and benefits of rowing on water with this professionally-built Stamina water rower machine. The incorporated water resistance in this exercise machine offers smoother and more consistent rowing but more importantly, just like rowing in an actual body of water, this workout machine is built to provide infinite resistance--harder and faster rowing motions cause increased resistance. To tailor the resistance according to your fitness goals, simply increase or decrease water level using the siphon included in the package. Moreover, the steel frame construction and rowing beam ensure durability for years while the sturdy, pivoting footplates with straps offer comfort and security. To help you keep track of your fitness progress, this home gym machine is also equipped with a multi-function monitor that tracks total strokes, strokes per minute, distance, time, and calories burned. Other features include: wide molded seat, textured and padded handles for better and comfort
From a fitness perspective, the WaterRower Club 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.
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:

The WaterRower Oxbridge is hand crafted in solid Cherrywood. Like all woods, Cherrywood may vary in color from a red-brown to deep red. The wood will darken in color with exposure to light. For this reason all WaterRower Cherrywood components are kept in light free rooms to protect from shadowing. A new WaterRower Oxbridge will therefore appear quite light in color. The wood will however darken over time reaching a rich reddish hue. Each machine has been hand finished with three coats of Danish Oil giving a deep lustre an warmth to the wood. Wood has been chosen due to its marvellous engineering properties, primary amongst these is its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's quietness and smoothness of use. Cherrywood, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. For reasons of ecology, all our woods are harvested from replenishable forests.

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I was introduced to this rower when I joined Orange Theory Fitness four months ago. Since I started using the rower during my OTF sessions I have grown to love the overall workout this thing gives me. In fact, I loved it so much that I purchased the Waterrower Club for my home gym. The overall quality and construction is superb and I'm very satisfied with my purchase. I would highly recommend over any other home gym equipment available. One of the best features is how its so easy to stand up and move out of the way for storage. You can't do that with any treadmill or elliptical. This thing is amazing and worth every penny. Assembly was straightforward and took about 30-45 minutes. Solid, quality construction.


The proper ratio of effort is about 75 percent lower body and 25 percent upper body. Ensure you’re hitting that by driving through your legs and keeping your hands relaxed. Posture plays a big part, too. Concept 2 recommends imagining your upright profile at noon and tilting from the 11 o’clock position (drive) to the 1 o’clock position (recovery).

Now back to the aesthetics, this version of WaterRower’s natural wood line of rowers comes in beautiful Black Walnut, which the company chose for its superior sound and vibration absorption. It’s hand-made in the USA and comes with excellent warranties and customer service. Overall, WaterRower is known for the quality of their rowing machines and the Classic is no exception.  And if you do want to get this rower just as an attractive conversation piece, it easily stores upright against a wall.  That said, we strongly recommend using The WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine for fitness, not just eye-candy.


The WaterRower Classic is handcrafted in solid American black walnut, which may vary in color from rich brown to purple/black. The black walnut was chosen due to its marvelous engineering properties, especially its ability to absorb sound and vibration, which enhances the WaterRower's quiet performance and smooth operation. Black walnut, like all woods used in the construction of the WaterRower, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. In addition, the wood is harvested from replenishable forests and is hand finished with three coats of Danish oil to give it a deep luster and warmth.
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Assembly was challenging. One of the rails could not be attached because the embedded screw in the cross-beam was too crooked to fit into the hole on the rail. I had to place a nut on it to protect the screws and tap until it was true enough cap nut to be attached. The foot board is slightly wider than the top board. I will sand this to match when I reapply the finish. This will need to be done because the wood has a dry, ashy appearance. The wood is beautiful and mostly uniform. This rowing machine is a nice product, but the build quality of the unit I received was disappointing. I felt lucky that the gashes in the carton did not damage the product as the packaging was optimistic. The leading competitor I use at the gym seems to provide slightly more resistance. It is beautiful and useful, but with room for improvement.
I teach pilates and also have several pieces of cardio equipment for my clients to warm up on. I bought a Hi, Rise Club Water Rower model a few years ago . as it turns out, my hard core bikers and elliptical walkers really did not use the Rower. SO it is in great shape. A beautiful piece.  I could not get a good photo in my house as there was not enough light, but if you Google this, you can see just what it looks like. 
The First Degree Fitness Challenge AR (Adjustable Resistance) is designed and engineered by professional rowers and craftsman using only the highest degree of quality components – ensuring complete satisfaction in function, performance, and reliability.  With its patented Fluid Technology, First Degree Fitness has incorporated the truest emulation of sensation, sight, and sound of real on-water rowing captured in the private setting of your own home.
On theme with C2’s interchangeability, models D or E are essentially the same machine. When we talk about one we’re talking about both. The Concept 2 E is just 8 pounds heavier but is made out of stronger stuff all around — what’s plastic on the model D is aluminium on the model E, and what’s aluminum on the model D is welded steel on the model E. The only noticeable variations are seat height and display position.
Storage is also a plus point for the Waterrower series as they are all designed to stand upright with the tank acting as ballast for stability. In this position they only take up around two square feet. Again, great if you are planning on training in the living room. However, if you have small children, I would advise fixing the top to the wall with a hook and strap.
Now back to the aesthetics, this version of WaterRower’s natural wood line of rowers comes in beautiful Black Walnut, which the company chose for its superior sound and vibration absorption. It’s hand-made in the USA and comes with excellent warranties and customer service. Overall, WaterRower is known for the quality of their rowing machines and the Classic is no exception.  And if you do want to get this rower just as an attractive conversation piece, it easily stores upright against a wall.  That said, we strongly recommend using The WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine for fitness, not just eye-candy.
The main advantages of the water rower are that it has quiet operation; there is only little maintenance to do, the water only needs to be changed occasionally; many users love the whooshing sound of water in the tank; and its consistently smooth resistance at every stroke. Two disadvantages of this machine are it costs a lot than the air rower; and it tends to be larger in size compared to the other rowing machines.
As previously discussed, the rowing machine’s big advantage is that it provides more than just a cardio workout. It can definitely help you build muscle and lose weight. Compared to a treadmill, the rowing machine works most of your body. It will really hit your shoulders, core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, arms and back effectively while being low impact thus reducing the stress on your joints. Bigger muscles need more energy and will burn fat to get it, which of course leads to healthy weight loss.
Velocity Exercise puts a premium on comfort here with a polyurethane molded saddle seat, and magnetic drum resistance contributes to a row machine that is durable, won’t need much or any maintenance, and, as we mentioned does not create much noise in use. This makes it easy to row while watching TV or listening to music. It also means the other people in your home won’t be listening to you workout quite as much. Easy to assemble and store, the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001 is a good choice for a mid-priced rower.  Click here to read the full review.
 Bring the unparalleled full-body workout of on-the-water rowing home with the premium design and feel of the XTERRA Fitness ERG600W Water Rower. The full body rhythmic nature of rowing makes it wonderfully efficient at burning calories while also developing flexibility and strength. Plus, the "zen-like" water movement you hear from the ERG600W multi-bladed impeller can be soothing and meditative. The large and easy to read 5.5" LCD console with height and angle adjustment includes motivating programmable modes to keep you involved, inspired, and reaching your goals.
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.
Instead of air or hydraulic resistance, the Elite Wave Water Rowing Machine emulates actual rowing with lifelike water resistance. The paddles glide through the water housed in the reservoir, making the rowing stroke smooth from start to finish, and like rowing on a body of water, the resistance increases infinitely the faster you row. Not only does this feel like rowing on water, it sounds like water. Different stroke speeds and intensities vary water motion, resulting in realistic water resonance.
The Verified Sustainable Hardwoods used for the WaterRower are sourced from the Appalachian Mountain region of the eastern United States, where planting rates exceed harvest rates by an average multiple of 2.29. The Appalachian Hardwood Timber resource includes more than 65.4 million acres in the eastern United States and provides the world with a bounty of the finest hardwood species.
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.

Essentially, the water rower uses water as it's resistance and the air rower (click here to read our air rowing machine reviews) uses air resistance. Additionally, the resistance of the water gives a very similar feeling to actually rowing in the water. The rowing machines listed above all have fantastic rowing mechanisms that mimic the exact feeling of a rowing a boat.
I kayak (ocean and flat water, not river), so I was drawn to the WaterRower over a flywheel type rower (which I have used in gyms) because I wanted to hear the sound of the water, which I miss hearing against the hull of the boat during the winter when I can't get out on the lake. I also like the way the paddles engage in the water; it's a very smooth pull and release, and moving the mass of the water instead of a dialed down tension feels more natural. As someone else also commented, the seat (at least on the wood version) is incredibly smooth and solid; no wobbling at all. I generally listen to music on my Nordic Track ski machine, but with the WaterRower I am content to listen to the sound of the water; working out on this is somehow both energizing and calmingly meditative at the same time. In the event that you want to use it while watching tv (this is one use to which I wanted to put it), it is quiet enough to hear the tv without having to turn it up.
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