First of all, if you're considering rowing, just do it. It is by far the most enjoyable and beneficial exercise I have ever tried. I've made huge strides with both cardio and muscle fitness with the WaterRower, and it's so enjoyable I look forward to exercising each day. Yes, it is more expensive than most other rowing machines, but when you compare it to a lot of other types of exercise equipment, it's actually pretty reasonable. When you also compare the exercise benefit you get, it's a bargain.
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.
I don't know how this machine compares to others. I have no idea. Here's what I know: I've had treadmills and elliptical machines, weight benches and several exercise appliances from infomercials. They all work exactly like they should if you use the equipment on a consistent basis. That's where the problem comes in. I would always give up eventually and the machine would sit in the corner, covered with my laundry, laughing at me. I bought this rower without ever even trying one at the gym because I was desperate to do something (and I voted for Frank Underwood). This was the one machine I was not only able to stick with, but I now eagerly look forward to using. It started a chain reaction that changed everything. You know those incredible before/after transformation pictures you see on weight loss shows? I'm one of those guys now. Rowing is like a 'secret' in the fitness world in the way there is so little emphasis. However, in terms of results, it is so much more efficient. It works your upper and lower body at the same time, huge cardio/fat burner and builds muscle like crazy. I'm glad I'm in on the secret too.
As far as “racing”, I said an air rowing machine is better because the Concept2 is the only model used for indoor rowing competitions, setting world records, and entering your actual scores online. It is because their monitor can calculate the drag factor of the flywheel in real time and accurately calculate distance and time. Small changes such as dust build up, air temperature, and humidity will not change the times between different machines because the drag factor is calculated every stroke.
* While there is nothing to adjust from row to row on the WaterRower, it is possible to increase or decrease the level of resistance by changing how much water you put in the drum. The monitor is pre-calibrated to match 17 liters of water, but you can change that if you want. More than 17 liters = more resistance, up to the max fill line. This is not something you'll want to change frequently, it's more of a set-it-and-forget-it thing.
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.
Other details include dual rails with four corner wheels that increase seat stability and reduce the amount of sweat buildup; a frame that flips upright for handy storage; and a weight capacity of up to 1,000 pounds. The WaterRower Natural measures 84 by 21 by 22 inches (W x H x D), weighs 117 pounds (with water), and carries a one-year warranty on the frame and components (WaterRower will upgrade the warranty to five years on the frame and three years on the components with the completion of a registration form).