Buyer's Bible: Rowing Machines

Rowing is an awesome form of physical activity. Not only can it help improve your cardiovascular health and endurance, but it is also great for strengthening and toning the entire body, aiding in weight loss, and improving your posture.

With some many amazing benefits it's no wonder your looking to add a rower to your fitness space. To help give you an effortless purchasing process, we have created this rowing machine buyer's guide to help you choose the ideal rower for your goals, needs and budget.

ROWER ANATOMY

During this section we will take you through each of the different components of your rower, highlighting their significance and important things to look out for.

Diagram showing the different parts of a rowing machine

CONSOLE 

rowing machine display console

No matter which rowing machine you choose it's going to have a display console attached. This is where your rowing statistics such as distance travelled and calories burned will be shown. 

If you're new to rowing then you don't need a system that demonstrates a ton of statics, which, let's be real, will mean nothing to you. Opting for a more basic computer system will be more beneficial as you'll be able to navigate the system better and track your progress more efficiently.

If you're an advanced rower then we would recommend a more advanced dashboard, one that is better for monitoring and tracking more specific rowing goals.

SEAT

Your rowers seat may seem pretty irrelevant in the midst of everything else, but let us ask you one question: how often do you think you'll use your new rower if it is uncomfortable?

We suspect not as often as you originally planned.

Find a rower where you don't have to constantly adjust your position or wriggle your butt to get comfy. This not only detracts from your workout but not being in the right position makes your training less engaging. 

FOOT PEDALS

Larger foot pedals are easier to fit into and tend to make people feel more secure.

rowing machine foot pedals

Something else you should suss out is the adjustability of the foot straps. It's important that when you strap your feet in that it is tight enough to hold your feet in place. Otherwise, just like the seat, you're going to spend half your workout getting back into the right position. 

FLYWHEEL

Some rowers use a fan to create air resistance. Simply put, larger fan blades create more air, offering a smoother riding and more resistance.

DRIVE MECHANISM

Rowing machines will either be built with a chain or drive belt.

We aren't going to delve into the specifics too much, but in short, a chain will be more expensive and noisier, but will last longer.

A drive belt will be less expensive and won't cause as much noise, but will wear down quicker. 

TYPES OF ROWING MACHINES

World Fitness Australia (WFA) stock 3 different types of rowing machines: air rowers, magnetic rowers, and air-magnetic rowers. 

Here we will take you through each different type, highlighting their key points of difference. 

AIR ROWERS

Air rowers create a natural rowing sensation by using air flow to create resistance. The air pushes through an internal flywheel which is connected to the handle.

By utilising this air-resistance system users get complete control over the intensity of their workouts. This is because the harder and faster you row, the greater the resistance you create. If you want to take it easy, a slower pace will lower the resistance level.

Air rowing machines tend to make a bit of noise, however they offer an extremely smooth ride.

Natural rowing sensation ✓  Control over resistance ✓  Smooth ✓    

MAGNETIC ROWERS

Bodycraft magnetic rowing machine

Magnetic rowers use magnets and a spinning flywheel to create resistance, specifically designed to minimise any noise. These rowing machines offer a bit of a less natural feel compared to an air rower, however, they are smooth and durable, and usually a bit friendlier towards the wallet. 

Their resistance is manually controlled, normally through an adjustable dial, slider or computer console.

Compared to air rowers, rowing at a slower pace doesn't necessarily mean rowing at a weaker resistance. On the upside, these rowing machines generally require less maintenance, and higher-end models can withstand years of frequent use.

Affordable✓  Quiet ✓  Durable ✓    

AIR-MAGNETIC ROWERS

Air-magnetic rowers combine the best parts of your air and magnetic rowers into one ultimate machine.

Utilising a dual-resistance, these rowing machines are built with a magnetic system, with the capabilities of incorporating added air resistance. This means that you have greater control over your workouts, as the harder you row the more resistance you'll feel.

Air-magnetic rowers have a natural feel, but aren't as quiet as your magnetic rowers.

Control over resistance✓  Durable✓  Natural rowing feel✓    

THINGS TO CONSIDER

HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU HAVE?

Rowing machines are fairly large, and you will need some decent floor space to use them correctly. 

rowing machine folded for storage

If you're planning to store your new machine away when it's not in use there are a couple of important features you should look for: whether it is foldable and whether it has transport wheels.

Having a foldable frame can save you a ton of gym space, leaving you more room for other equipment. Normally it'll stand upright when in the folded position, making it much easier to store away.

Whilst having a foldable frame will make your bike easier to store, having wheels will make it easier to use. This is another crucial feature all rower owners should look for if they don't plan to have their rower out at all times.

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?

If you're looking to buy a good quality indoor rowing machine, then you can expect to spend somewhere between $600 - $1300, depending on resistance type. 

Anything upwards of $1400 will be your highest quality, reaching prices of up to $2500. These are the models we recommend to our seasoned rowers, as they have the features and capabilities to handle the most intense training sessions.

In terms of resistance type, air and air-magnetic rowers will be the most expensive, whilst magnetic rowers are generally a bit cheaper.

WILL NOISE BE AN ISSUE?

No rowing machine is going to cause a heap of ruckus, however, some may make it more difficult to hear your TV, or they may irritate other members of the household if it is being used in a communal area.

To briefly sum up, air rowers will cause the most noise but will offer the cleanest ride, whilst magnetic rowers will be the quietest but potentially not as smooth.

DO YOU REQUIRE BUILT IN PROGRAMS OR APP CONNECTIVITY?

This are by no means necessary, but rather a luxury some people would prefer to enjoy. 

Pre-set programs: these are great for anyone who is looking to work towards a specific goal, such as fat loss or heart-rate control. You don't have to think about your workout, just start the program and get to work.

App connectivity: these apps give you access to top class coaches, a community of likeminded individuals, and allow you to keep track of your progress.

We hope you found this rowing machine buyer's guide helpful. If you require any further information please drop a comment below or contact our friendly, helpful team.


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