Rowing machines are in my opinion, superior in many ways to the everyday treadmills, bikes, and elliptical trainers. Rowing machines are an excellent substitute not only because they are compact and easily portable, but extremely effective when it comes to working out. Although, smaller in size, these very powerful machines not only work out our cardio but give us the upper and lower body work out of a lifetime. In addition, rowing also has the upper advantage by not placing any impact or stress on our knees or other joints like running on a treadmill has.
Investing in a rowing machine, not only for the cardio, but as a way to strengthen the quads, glutes, shoulders, and back (to name a few), would be a very wise idea. Question is, why are treadmills so popular? And it hadn’t come to my realization until recently that it’s probably because running is so second nature to us. If we can accustom ourselves to the act of rowing as a healthier and potentially more effective substitute, we can reap the same benefits, and then some.
If you’ve ever seen the popular series House Of Cards on Netflix, it’s no wonder Kevin Spacey who plays the role of the president constantly rows in his home through out the first season.
1. – It’s a great stress reliever and way to get your mind off life
2. – It’s been associated with many awesome health benefits
3. – It not only works out our cardio, but tones many of our upper and lower body muscles.
What I’ve done here is compiled some of the best rowing machines at each price point and budget with the least complaints possible and have compared them so we have a better idea of the absolute best & most popular rowing machines at those price points. As we go down the list, take note of how much more elaborate each rower becomes, while taking these following factors into consideration: design, efficiency, noise, complaints, and overall popularity.
Best Rowing Machines < $200
- Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine
- Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Best Rowing Machines $500 – $900
- Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
- Stamina Avari Programmable Exercise Rower
- Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion Two Rower
Best Rowing Machines $200 – $500
- Sunny Health & Fitness SW-RW5515
- Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
- Stamina Air Rower
Best Rowing Machines $900 – $1,200
- Concept Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5
- WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Sunny Health And Fitness Rowing Machine
This rowing machine made by Sunny Health and Fitness is one of the most basic and affordable rowing machines to ever hit the market. Despite its simplicity, the Sunny Health and Fitness Rower remains to be one of the most popular rowing machines in its price range. If you’re simply looking for a rowing machine that can get the job done, this may be the one for you. With 12-levels of adjustable resistance, adjustable foot straps, and pivoting foot plates for our feet, this piece of equipment provides all our basic rowing needs.
- 12 adjustable levels of resistance.
- Requires minimal space.
- Includes a small LCD monitor.
- Product is lightweight & can easily be carried (23 pounds)
- Doesn’t fold flat, only vertical.
- Has a 220-pound weight limit per user.
- Pump heats up fairly easily.
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
The Body Trac Glider 1050 made by Generic is quite a step-up from the one made by Sunny Health & Fitness. As you’ll notice, it uses a completely different method of rowing by incorporating free rowing arms on each side, as opposed to a simple bar used for pulling. This helps to produce the feeling of actually rowing a boat, which I find to be pretty cool. Similar to the Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine, this one is a very affordable piece of equipment that almost improves on the technology a bit. The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is easily foldable for storage, is made out of a sturdier steel construction, and uses adjustable gas shock resistance, which is great for the actual rowing part.
- Use of Gas Shock Resistance technology.
- Sturdier construction.
- Provides a unique full range motion of rowing.
- Multi-function electronic monitor.
- Weighs in pretty light & easy assembly (37 pounds)
- Some complained their shoes didn’t fit the foot straps.
- Some issues with the monitor not working correctly.
- Not as high quality as other rowers on the market.
- Some may find it to be too noisy.
Sunny Health And Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
This next model, which goes by SF-RW5515 by Sunny Health & Fitness, greatly improves upon the initial concept model we saw with its most basic rowing machine. The RW5515 was made to counteract all the minor issues people were having with the other more basic models.
The RW-5515 really emphasizes on adding extra comfort to the chair and handlebars, use of adjustable foot straps and anti-slip material to the pedals and even adds some new technology to the mix for a much better feel of resistance called magnetic rowing. All in all, if we’re looking for a great, long-lasting, and reliable rowing machine to add to our gym, the SF-RW5515 will make for an excellent addition.
- Magnetic tension system (with 8-levels of resistance).
- Improved LCD console.
- Anti-slip foot pedals & handle bars.
- Seat is more comfortable.
- Produces much less noise.
- Excellent quality for the price.
- Minimal complaints overall!
- Heavier than previous models (59 pounds).
- Monitor is still a bit small.
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
Similar in nature to the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050, the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine also uses free rowing arms allowing for a full range of motion. The Stamina 1215 can be considered to be much more compact than other rowing machines and can be easily folded for storage. Unlike other rowing machines we’ve covered, the Stamina 1215 additionally allows us to increase the beam incline to intensify our workout. The Stamina 1215 is definitely a solid rower for the price that uses a smooth hydraulic cylinder action for our resistance. There have however, been some mentions of this machine not being as durable as other rowers on the market.
- Use of free motion arms.
- Hydraulic cyclinder resistance.
- Seat is well-padded.
- Adjustable bean incline.
- Occasional issues with the shock absorber.
- Some might not like the rotating arms.
- LCD display is a bit cheap.
Stamina Air Rower (Black, Chrome)
The Stamina Air Rower is a basic, but highly-favorited rowing machine that gets the job done. Implied by its name, the Stamina Air Rower uses wind resistance technology to provide very smooth and efficient resistance strokes. It’s large and customizable footplates can be used by nearly anyone with use of its adjustable nylon foot straps.
Other things that should be mentioned here is that people love the resistance that is provided by the air rower and found it to give a very smooth rowing experience. This is a rowing machine that is made of highly constructed steel material and should easily last you a long time. It has a foldable frame for easy storage as well as portable wheels. With minimal complaints, the Stamina Air Rower comes highly recommended.
- Wind resistance technology.
- Easily foldable & portable.
- Smooth rowing experience.
- Very durable & well-constructed.
- LCD multi-function monitor.
Cons Of The Stamina Air Rower:
- Somewhat noisy & less quiet than other models.
- Some might feel the rower is too small/basic.
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
The Magnetic Rower by Velocity Exercise really takes our rowing experience to the next level and there are quite a few new features here that really make it stand out. While there are few notable drawbacks as well, one thing we might love about the Velocity is the very low noise it emits; a highly sought out trait when it comes to rowers.
Another thing we’ll notice here is that the LCD monitor is a bit bigger than a lot of the other rowers we’ve seen so far, making it much more readable. In addition to that, the LCD also allows us to choose from 7 various rowing programs, 6 which are pre-set into the system. The rower uses a Drum Magnetic Control system, which can be used to adjust the electronic tension and resistance.
- Very quite and smooth experience.
- 7 Various programs to choose from.
- LCD is bigger and easily readable.
- Uses a Drum Magnetic Control System.
- Includes a heart rate monitor.
- Easily foldable for storage.
- No on/off switch. Must pull out power cord.
- Complaints of bad packaging & damage on arrival.
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower
The quality of the Stamina Avari Rower is really quite impressive. From its technology to the overall quality of the build, the Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower is one that’s been admired by many. Notable features of the Stamina Avari is the very low noise level of the machine, an included chest strap to accurately measure heart rate, and the magnets used to increase resistance (instead of tension) as we’ve seen in other rowers.
The use of magnets allows the rower to automatically higher or lower the resistance without having to break its rhythm, allowing for an extremely smooth rowing experience. Just like the Velocity Magnetic Rower, we also have 6 different pre-set workouts to choose from and 1 manual. This can all be done with the Backlit LCD, which also informs us on our rowing time, count, distance, calories, pulse, watt, and strokes per minute. The Stamina Avari is easily considered to be a high-quality rower.
- Backlit LCD Touch Fitness Monitor.
- Very well constructed (made from aluminum).
- 7 Preset workout programs.
- Includes chest strap to measure heart rate.
- Extremely quiet and use of magnets provides a smooth experience.
- Highly Recommended!
- You might find the seat to be uncomfortable.
Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion Two Rower
The Stamina 15-9003 is similar to the Stamina Avari, with one key exception. The Stamina 15-9003 isn’t only a rower, it’s a recumbent exercise bike as well that even allows us to perform upper body workouts as well with its included top bar. Despite the multi-use functions of the Stamina 15-9003, the rower is still extremely quite just like the Stamina Avari. The additional upper body strength exercises and bike and rower into one has made this a favorite among rowers and strength trainers alike.
Just like the Stamina Avari however, we’ll also come across the possible issue of the seat being a bit too uncomfortable; one of the only, yet popular complaints of the Stamina Rowers among this price point. The Stamina 15-9003 product remains to be a great deal and value for the price and comes recommended.
- Combined rowing machine & exercise bike.
- Use of quiet magnetic resistance.
- Capable of performing upper body exercises.
- Extremely quiet.
- Large LCD display for easy tracking.
- Seat might be uncomfortable.
- LCD isn’t backlit as it is in the Avari.
- Some weren’t a fan of the overall quality.
Concept Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Our favorite rowing machine and possibly the most popular and best-selling rowing machine in the world is the Concept Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. If you’re looking to wisely invest into any kind of rowing machine, this would be the one giving you the best bang for your buck. Its frame lock mechanism allows for easy storage. Adjustable footrests and an ergonomic handle give us all the comfort we could need.
Its PM5 device, otherwise known as their Performance Monitor 5 uses a backlit to increase visibility, allows us to store all our workout data, and can wirelessly monitor our heart rates. Other notable features of the Concept Model D is its very smooth rowing experience unlike no other, the comfort of the seat, adjustable fan blades to mimic different type of rows, and best of all, barely a single complaint with the Concept Model D. Let’s recap.
- Very easy to assemble & storage.
- High-quality construction.
- Firm but comfortable seat.
- Backlit PM5 monitor with many capabilities.
- Bluetooth smart connectivity.
- Able to adjust fan blades and resistance levels.
- Used by everyday Olympic trainers & athletes.
- World’s best selling rowing machine.
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Another top choice by many professionals and one that has gained an exceeding reputation is the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine. This elegantly designed and looking rower uses a unique technology called the “water flywheel,” which imitates the best natural water rowing feel as humanly possible. If there was any rower that could beat the Concept Model D in terms of quality, it might just be the WaterRower.
Made out of Stained Honey Oak and Ash, the Concept Model D very effectively absorbs both sounds and vibrations emitted from the machine itself. One of the only possible drawbacks found with the WaterRower is its somewhat lacking technology and LCD display. Besides that, the WaterRower is truly a rowing machine made of elegance, design, and amazing overall efficiency.
- Most elegant rowing machine in terms of design.
- Effectively absorbs both noise and vibration.
- Uses a water flywheel to imitate the feel of actual rowing.
- Constructed out of Stained Honey Oak & Ash.
- Unique & authentic design – Looks great in any home!
- LCD & Technology is basic in comparison to Concept Model D.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best rowing machines you can buy. As you can tell, they vary in so many aspects, it’s amazing. From the technology they use to the type of resistance, no two rowing machines are exactly alike. The more you can invest in your own rowing machine, the more you’re likely to enjoy using it and the resounding traits of quality that many of them have to offer. Thanks and feel free to leave any comments or questions below 🙂