As home fitness equipment sales soar – partly due to fluctuating lockdown restrictions – the desire for multiple pieces of equipment has risen too, and rowing machines are trending. With apps such as Apple Fitness+ offering on-demand rowing classes and the discipline being recognised as one of the best total body workouts around (due to up to 86% body muscle use in one session), accessibility and results are equally achievable. Factor in the benefits of low-impact exercise and you’ll find that indoor rowing has become one of the most reliable at-home fitness options in 2021.
There are several different ways to approach resistance when deciding to purchase an indoor rower — water, magnetic, air, and hydraulic each have their own advantages. So before making your rowing machine purchase, clue up on which one will suit you best. With a variety of machines on the market which range from advanced Peloton-worthy, connected and network-driven, to more simplistic designs that focus on functionality, there’s something to suit every budget and need.
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The closest to rowing on water
The Hydrow Rower
It looks different, is almost silent and streams live classes on water, the Hydrow machine is changing the idea of at-home rowing machines. The large built-in screen offers allows you to follow the instructors as they stream live classes on some of the most famous rivers in the world. This unique feature makes rowing on the Hydrow the most realistic to feeling like you're on the water and adds a interactive element unlike any other. As well as the live streaming, the library of classes, helped by the AI technology, recommends a weekly schedule so that you get a bespoke workout routine customised to your needs. The on-screen metrics and live performance are a great incentive to improve and compete. The rowing machine that does it all.
£2,295 (with a £38 monthly subscription), available at Hydrow.co.uk
The connected rowing machine
Echelon Smart Rower
A bit like a Peloton, the Echelon Smart Rower offers connected rowing and classes via a membership format. The rower itself is compact, folding away so you don’t need a huge space, while using magnetic resistance for a quieter, smooth motion. On-handle buttons ensure you can control the 32 resistance levels, meanwhile the Echelon Fitness app shares live and on-demand classes that incorporate scenic rows from around the world (you’ll need your own device though to connect through bluetooth). You’ll receive training metrics such as speed, stroke rate, calories burned and your heart rate whilst also tracking performance against other Echelon members.
From £1,199, available at Echelonfit.uk. Echelon Fit membership from £24.99 a month.
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The sleek, high tech choice
Aside from its looks and ability to store easily, Technogym Skillrow equipment has both practicality and innovation. The two resistance options, power and cardio, are made possible by multidrive technology using air resistance, with added load using magnetic to simulate water rowing, or ‘Aquafeel’ – a gradual build-up of resistance to mimic water and prevent back strain. The built-in console shows real-time data and if you use the Skillrow app, you can attach your device to follow training and gain feedback on your performance.
£3,490, available from Technogym.com.
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The classic choice
If you visit a gym, then you’re likely to have seen or used a Concept2 rowing machine. A heritage brand that started in 1976, Concept2 RowErg is a solid option that offers value – not forgoing contemporary features such as workout data displays, and Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to access Concept2’s app, ErgData, meanwhile supporting other apps if you prefer. The adjustable air resistance gives you the choice to manage your own workout effectively to set (and smash) your rowing goals with minimal, but valuable, tech. It also splits into two parts to make it easier to store.
£860, available from Concept2.co.uk.
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Most like rowing on water
The most obvious difference with the WaterRower A1 is that it looks different from most other rowing machines. The entry-level model in the range, the A1 still uses the brand’s unique WaterFlywheel for resistance, which looks good alongside the solid Ash wood and aluminium design as well as simulating rowing on water. The basic setup has a signature Quick-Start LCD monitor that displays all the metrics you need including distance, split times and calories. It’s also lightweight and easy to store.
WaterRower A1 £849, available from Waterrower.co.uk.
Best Value Rower
Viavito Rokai Multi-Function Folding Rowing Machine
If you don’t want to spend too much on a rower, there are still plenty of practical, good value alternatives. The Viavito Rokai Multi-Function Folding Rowing Machine is ideal for smaller spaces whilst being efficient and wallet friendly. It uses a very quiet, magnetic resistance to offer 16 levels and 6kg of flywheel. It also features programmes that structure your workouts, a race function and interval training so that there is always a challenge to be had.
£299.99, available from Sweatband.com.
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