Rowing Machine Benefits & Buying Guide

Rowing Machine Buying Guide

This guide will help you to research and buy rowing machines confidently. We also provide advice about rowing machine benefits and the best rowing machine workouts.

If you’d rather speak to our in house personal trainer or rowing machine sales team, please feel free to contact JTX Fitness.

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We recommend you buy a rowing machine based on these factors:

Types of Rowing Machine Resistance

The resistance type effects how hard you work and how smooth and realistic the rowing motion is. There are six types of rowing machines widely available to buy in the UK:

Recommended Rowing Machines:

Programmable or Magnetic Rowing Machines:

This is one of the most basic type of rowing resistance but you can get a very reasonable rowing experience. Ideal for users who are looking for cheap rowing machines (approx. £200- £300) and just want to get a bit fitter rather than become expert. Don’t confuse these with air rowing machines that also have programmes. These magnetic rowing machines have a similar type of resistance to exercise bikes. The magnet is used to create a drag on the spinning™ flywheel.

Air Rowing Machines:

This is the main type of rowing machine found in a commercial gym. For the market leader, the Concept 2, expect to pay approximately £850. The resistance is created by blades attached to a fly-wheel –like a windmill which is designed to create a drag. Rowing faster creates more resistance on the fly wheel blades which in turn makes it harder to row.

Air Rowing Machines with Programs (or Mag-Air):

These are generally good rowing machines. They combine both magnetic resistance and air resistance to offer an affordable alternative to air rowing machines. They provide a great rowing experience and can generally be picked up for between £350 – £800 depending on a variety of features.

Water Rowing Machines:

These provide the most realistic motion for rowing fans but are extremely expensive for limited additional fitness benefits. For about £1000 you can buy a beautiful wooden water rower which will look great in any designer home gym. BUT the rowing movement won’t make you any fitter than a traditional rowing machine. If you are looking for this level of realism we think you would be better off joining your local rowing club.

Poor Quality Rowing Machines:

Elastic cord resistance system or Hydraulic Rowers:

We have carried out a lot of tests on these cheaper rowing machines. If you are likely to be exercising on them more than once a week or you weigh over 10stone, we recommend that you avoid them. They are often very cheap but the build quality is in general not very good either so you are likely to end up wasting your money.

The elastic cord rowing machines have a tendency to create a lot of different problems including losing their elasticity over time and slipping.

Hydraulic rowing machines use a piston mechanism to provide the resistance which can often get stiff and put the welding under a lot pressure.

If you do end up buying one of these cheap rowing machines please be careful to look at the rowing machine warranty.

How Much Do Rowing Machines Cost?

You can buy cheap rowing machines for as little as £60 from Argos but for most people these won’t provide a good workout. They are mainly elastic cord or hydraulic rowing machines (see our description above). However a budget of over £400 will get you a good quality and reliable home rowing machine.

Gym quality rowing machines will start at over £850 and water rowers will cost over £1000.

Will Your Home Rowing Machine Fit?

Measuring the space that you have available for your home rowing machine is an important first step. If a rowing machine has transport wheels it can be moved before and after a workout. You will also need to allow an extra 30cm in length and 60cm width to ensure you have enough space to exercise comfortably. This will allow for your back and elbows to extend beyond the rowing machine.

Compact Rowing Machines

Smaller rowing machines are available for shorter people. You should check the length of the rail that the seat slides along to ensure it won’t inhibit movement. If you are trying to buy a rowing machine for a smaller space, please remember to include the additional space you will need around it (L+30cm, W+60cm).

Folding Rowing Machines

You may have enough space for a rowing workout but you don’t want the rowing machine to take over the whole room when not in use. This is when folding rowing machines can be ideal. The JTX Freedom Air Rowing Machine folds easily away and reduces its length from 225cm long to 112cm long.

Folding Rowing Machine

Some rowing machines can be turned on to their end so they are stored vertically. This can be quite a tricky storage solution. Lifting them into this position can be quite heavy. Also bear in mind you will need a good ceiling height for some models (not ideal for garages).

Gym Rowing Machines:

The commercial rowing machines that are found in gyms are normally about 250cm long. The Concept 2 Rower is the established market leader and costs £860. It can be taken apart and stored in half if required.

Other Important Home Rowing Machine Features:

Size: Over 6ft tall? Look for a rowing machine with a seat rail over 120cm long.

Need glasses? Some rowers have particularly difficult to read LCD screens. Remember you will be moving when reading the screen and it’s important to be able to read them at a glance so you don’t have to slow down… the bigger the better!

Transport wheels to allow the rowing machine to be moved into more space.

Warranties and Returns Policies

If anything should go wrong a good warranty will make a massive difference. Look for at least a two year warranty which covers all mechanical problems.

Beware of all ‘return to base’ returns policies which will leave you having to pay courier charges over £100 for sending the machine to be fixed.

Also look to see if the retailer has a try before you buy policy. Some online retailers allow you 14 days to return your rowing machine.

JTX Fitness products come with a in-home service warranty and a 28 day money back guarantee so you can test them out for yourself.. no quibbles, just keep the box!)

Rowing machine benefits:

We provide more expert advice, including all the air rowing machine fitness benefits and a rower size guide here. View Rowing Machine Benefits