Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.
The WaterRower Classic is outfitted with a Series 4 performance monitor that's designed to balance technical sophistication with user-friendliness. The monitor--which includes six information and programming windows, six QuickSelection buttons, and three navigation buttons--displays your workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, and distance. Plus, the monitor is compatible with an optional heart rate chest strap and receiver, which helps you optimize your workout and achieve your exercise objectives.
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.
The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is handcrafted in solid ash wood, stained Honey Oak, and finished with Danish oil. Wood is an excellent material for this application due to its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's smooth, quiet operation. The Natural, as with all WaterRowers, features patented WaterFlywheel technology, unrivaled in its replication of the resistance felt in on the water rowing.

Here’s a secret, because the rowing machine provides an intense full body workout, the exercise burns a high amount of calories not only during the actual activity but also for a period after you’ve stopped. This is known as the “after-burn effect”. Essentially, you’ve worked your body so hard that it is forced to keep burning calories and fat even when you’re not rowing. The scientific jargon for this is “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or “EPOC” for short. But all you need to know is that if you’re doing an intense rowing workout, the benefits continue after you’re done. How great is that?


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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