The 8 Best Rowing Machines Money Can Buy

woman on a rowing machine

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Rowing machines are experiencing a wave of rising popularity. That's because people are realizing that rowing as an exercise does so much more than just work your upper body. Rowing is also a great low-impact alternative to jogging, which makes it ideal for runners who are looking for ways to reduce the stress on their joints.

But with so many new and advanced rowing machines to choose from like water rowers and air rowers, trying to settle on the best rowing machine for you can feel a little overwhelming. Especially since we all have unique goals and a specific budget to adhere to. We reviewed some of the most popular rowing machines out there, along with models that have been swimming under the radar, to see which ones deliver the absolute best value and benefits—and which ones mostly tread water.

Best Rowing Machines - Our Top Picks

Why Trust Us?’s editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

Best Rower Overall - Echelon Fit Connected Rowing Machine

Echelon Fit Connected Rowing Machine


  • Weight: 106.5 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 84”L x 21”W X 45”H
  • Features: Built-in device holder, Bluetooth Resistance Controller, foldable, live and on-demand classes, comfortable seat and handle with an ergonomic design
  • Resistance: Magnetic
  • Display: N/A, comes with built-in device holder


You know about spin classes. But what about rowing classes? If you thought your only choice while rowing was to stare vacantly across the room, the up-and-coming interactive fitness equipment maker Echelon Fit has something new for you to look at. Using your own phone or tablet, you can join live or on-demand classes, or even enjoy scenic paddles around the world. Prefer music? The Echelon Fit app has a library of millions of songs and playlists, including artist-exclusive classes featuring the music of Pitbull.

Some of the more tangible little things that make this a big winner include the ability to control resistance with your thumbs on the handlebar, and extra-comfortable ergonomic seats and footrests. If you’ve ever felt like your rowing machine was built with someone else’s body in mind, take note! It’s also a breeze to assemble, and stores upright to save space. This is simply a solid, approachable rower for all experience levels.

What We Like

  • Resistance can be adjusted manually from the handlebar
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Device holder can be rotated for workouts off the rower
  • Comfortable seat and footrests

What We Don’t Like

  • No screen
  • Echelon Fit subscription is an additional cost

BUY: Echelon Fit Connected Rowing Machine

Best Runner Up - Concept2 Model D Rower

Concept2 Model D Rower


  • Weight: 57.32 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 96”L x 24”W
  • Features: Custom or built-in workouts, metric tracking, damper-controlled resistance, aluminum l-beam monorail, stainless steel track
  • Resistance: Air
  • Display: PM5 Performance Monitor


The Concept2 Model D sets the bar high when it comes to a rowing machine that delivers serious indoor training. It's an easy-to-use commercial-grade rower that won't intimidate beginners or casual rowers looking for a good home workout. This rower's performance monitor packs in plenty of workouts and games, all while tracking your performance. There's also an ergonomic handle and seat, so you can stay comfortable as you work out. The Concept2 Model D is built to last, and as an air-resistance rower, it closely replicates the feeling of rowing on water. This rower is widely used in commercial gyms and in CrossFit but has a price tag of just over $1,000. It also increases its resistance depending on how fast you row. So, it's a sturdy machine that's easy to put together, won't break down, and stores easily in your home gym.

What We Like

  • Built-in workouts, games, and custom workouts keep you engaged
  • PM5 monitor tracks distance, speed, calories burned, and watts
  • Can connect to other machines for racing and smartphones
  • Flywheel design feels smooth and makes minimal noise

What We Don’t Like

  • Resistance can only be adjusted using the damper on the flywheel
  • Seat may feel too narrow for some

BUY: Concept2 Model D Rower

Best Rowing Machine for Full Body Workout - Aviron Strong

Aviron Strong


  • Weight: 114 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 84”L x 27”W x 48”H; 35”L x 27”W x 83”H (upright storage)
  • Features: Dual air and magnetic resistance, rotating handle bar, cloud seat accessory, lumbar support accessory, phone holder, cooling effect fan.
  • Display: 22” rotating HD touchscreen


The Aviron Strong Series Rower is like your neighborhood superstore - it has a little bit of everything, including being able to get a full body workout from one machine. This is Aviron’s premium model and it will run you over $2,000 to bring it home. However, this piece of home gym equipment comes with the kind of features that justify the price tag. They include a 22” rotating HD touchscreen, a large catalog of workouts, including guided programs that can be done on and off the rower, coached workouts for beginners, and scenic rows. You will also be able to easily access entertainment such as movies and TV shows through the monitor.

The Aviron Strong wants the hard parts of your workouts to come in the form of intense exercise, and that is why this machine is adaptable to a plethora of comfort and convenience accessories such as a cushioned seat, lumbar support, phone holder and remote control. When you are finished with your workout, this rower can be stored

What We Like

  • Variety of comfort accessories
  • Lots of workouts available even without membership
  • Low set height and frame

What We Don’t Like

  • Price starts around $2,200
  • Aviron monthly membership required for total functionality

BUY: Aviron Strong

Best Magnetic Rowing Machine - Hydrow Rowing Machine

Hydrow Rowing Machine


  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 86″L x 25″W x 47″H
  • Features: Live and on-demand classes, 22” HD pivoting touchscreen, cushioned seat, electromagnetic drag system, aluminum, and steel frame
  • Resistance: Electromagnetic
  • Display: 22” HD touchscreen


The Hydrow is one of the most luxurious rowing machines out there, but packs in a lot of value to match a higher price point. It uses patented electromagnetic, computer-controlled technology that simulates the real deal but from the comfort of your home gym. Each stroke is smooth and virtually silent, and you can see, feel and experience the level of detail that went into its sleek design. It has an ergonomic seat that provides comfort for your longest workout, and there's also a 22-inch touchscreen that offers a ton of high-intensity rowing workouts, all while repelling dust and sweat.

While this is a top-notch machine, it does have a few downfalls. If you need to put this machine away when it's not in use, you'll have to pay extra for a vertical storage kit on top of the already-expensive price tag.

Read our full Hydrow review.

What We Like

  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Electromagnetic resistance is quiet
  • Interactive workouts on the big screen are engaging
  • Hydrow membership gives you access to different types of classes

What We Don’t Like

  • Cannot be folded
  • Expensive

BUY: Hydrow Rowing Machine

Best Budget Rowing Machine - Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina ATS Air Rower


  • Weight: 52 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 79"L x 18.75"W x 31.5"H
  • Features: Dynamic air resistance, LCD tracks metrics, cushioned seat and rowing handle, folding frame with built-in wheels
  • Resistance: Air
  • Display: LCD monitor, built-in device holder


People often buy low-end rowing machines because the price on the sticker is too good to pass up. Then, they're quickly disappointed with a rower that falls short. That doesn't apply to the Stamina ATS Air Rower. As the name implies, this indoor rower uses air resistance, so it provides a smooth and natural movement that responds to your level of intensity without the clunkiness you'll find in other models at the same price point. And just because it's relatively cheaper in price doesn't mean that its design cuts corners. Its steel frame adds stability to your workout while a multi-function LCD monitor tracks your critical metrics, like distance, speed, time, and strokes per minute.

What We Like

  • Air resistance responds to your level of intensity
  • Cushioned, padded seat is comfortable
  • Textured footplates with adjustable straps
  • Can be folded and stored using the built-in wheels

What We Don’t Like

  • No built-in workouts
  • Plastic housing may not be durable

BUY: Stamina ATS Air Rower

Best Interactive Rower - Aviron Impact

Aviron Impact


  • Weight: 97 pounds
  • Dimensions:97"L x 21"W x 43"H; 54"L x 21"W x 62"H (folded)
  • Features: Dual air and magnetic resistance, rotating handle bar,
  • Display: 22” HD touchscreen


Rowing at home can be a lonely endeavor. However, thanks to the numerous gaming and entertainment options available with the Aviron Impact Series rower, you can Netflix and…um, row? This rower is the most affordable of the options in Aviron’s lineup, but that doesn’t mean that it skimps on features. The 22-inch HD touchscreen display allows users to conveniently navigate through the large selection of workouts. To access the workouts, competitions, and guided tours, you will have to subscribe to Aviron’s monthly membership for $25.00. However, even without this membership you can still use the rower and track metrics, and on the days that you may just want to zone out, you can select a show movie from a streaming platform to pass the time.

In addition to the stellar technology and gaming experience, the Impact is also solidly built. It is constructed of steel, aluminum and sturdy plastic parts. The Impact is easily transportable thanks to the wheels, and it folds for easy storage.

What We Like

  • Versatility
  • Gaming aspect
  • Wheels for easy transport

What We Don’t Like

  • Size (over 8’ in length)
  • Must have membership for full workout capabilities.

BUY: Aviron Impact

Best Foldable Rowing Machine - Get RX'd Xebex Air Rower

Get RX'd Xebex Air Rower


  • Weight: 93 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 99”L x 20”W x 45”H
  • Features: Damper-controlled resistance, foldable, elevated seat with extra padding, non-slip handle
  • Resistance: Air
  • Display: LED console


Want a quality rower that you can fold up and hide away when you're not using it? The Xebex Air Rower is your answer. It's easy to fold–you pull a single pin behind the folding hinge, then give it a nudge in the middle of the frame—and though it is a bit on the bulky side when folded, it's ready to store in your garage or home gym. What's particularly noteworthy about the Xebex Air Rower is that it's surprisingly durable for a foldable rowing machine. The machine stayed solid during our review, no matter what we threw at it. And as an added perk, the height of the seat sits roughly 22 inches off the floor, so you have the feel of a gym rower with some added support for your knees and back when it's time to get up. It has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, so users of all body types can enjoy this home machine. There's also a large LCD screen packed with a good selection of workouts.

What We Like

  • LED console tracks time, distance, strokes per minute, calories, and more
  • Seat is dining chair height which makes it easy to get on and off
  • Flywheel is smooth and makes minimal noise
  • Resistance is controlled using the drag

What We Don’t Like

  • No device holder
  • Limited number of built-in programs

BUY: Get RX'd Xebex Air Rower

Best Water Rowing Machine - WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine


  • Weight: 114 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 82”L x 22”W x 28”H
  • Features: Adjustable resistance levels, honey oak finish, water flywheel
  • Resistance: Water
  • Display: LCD monitor


If you relish a well-polished design backed by the substance of water-resistance rowing, check out the WaterRower Natural rowing machine. It's made of sustainably sourced wood that serves both form and function: While it provides a gorgeous exterior look, it also yields incredible longevity, stability, and vibration absorption. These aspects help this machine be very quiet, which is a great thing to have if you live in an apartment or don't want to make a lot of noise.

Because of the nature of water rowing machines, you'll have to expect extra maintenance with the WaterRower. The water within the wheel has to be emptied out and refilled every so often, and the wheel container has to be cleaned to prevent mold. The WaterRower Natural provides a very realistic rowing experience, down to the "whoosh" sound you make with each stroke. In fact, we believe this is currently the closest to actual rowing you can get on land.

What We Like

  • Low impact on your joints
  • Foot plates have adjustable straps
  • Resistance responds to your level of intensity
  • It can be stored upright using the built-in wheels
  • Water flywheel feels smooth and is silent

What We Don’t Like

  • Changing water and adding chlorine tablets is more maintenance
  • Wood frame may not be as durable as steel long term
  • No device holder

BUY: WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

How We Chose the Best Rowing Machines

The fitness experts on the ACTIVE Reviews Team hand-selected the seven best rowing machines based on the following factors.


We chose rowers with unique features such as metric tracking, Bluetooth compatibility, live or on-demand class offerings, custom workouts, and more. Each rowing machine has distinctive attributes to meet different user preferences and they are optimized to improve the overall experience.


When considering the durability and construction of the rower, we chose options that are built with sturdy materials such as stainless steel and aluminum tracks and bases. Additionally, we chose a variety of resistance systems that are long-lasting and run smoothly with varying levels of maintenance.


Like many other pieces of cardio equipment, rowers can vary greatly in price based on the features and several other factors. All the rowers we chose are at different price points to provide a good balance between quality and features.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Rowing is a full-body workout that targets your leg muscles, core, and upper body. Even if you’re short on time, you can hit all your major muscle groups at once while building cardio and strength. It’s also a low-impact exercise option that is great for all levels of fitness from beginners to more advanced exercisers. The repetitive, smooth gliding motion allows you to focus and practice mindfulness as you glide through each rep.

Since it’s a cardio machine, you’re able to build strength and endurance over time. Each time you get on the rower, you have the option to do a longer workout that focuses on distance, a short sprint, or interval training. As you row, your heart rate increases, distributing oxygen throughout the body efficiently. You’ll start to breathe quickly and more deeply which helps improve your lung power capacity.

If one of your goals is to lose weight, rowing can maximize your weight loss efforts by helping you burn fat and calories. This is because rowing can help mobilize fats in your body and convert them into usable energy. Most rowing machines will show you metrics such as calories burned so you can keep an eye on the progress of your workout. For optimal results, we recommend pairing a healthy diet with a regular workout regimen.

How to Use a Rowing Machine

While it may be tempting to just sit down and pull, performing a repetitive movement without good form can wear on you and even cause injuries long term. Maintaining proper form in the drive phase and recovery phase is crucial. So what is the proper way to row?

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start by finding a comfortable position on the seat where your bottom is centered and stable.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the footplates securing them as needed.
  • Once your feet are strapped in, grab the handle and move through the drive phase pushing through your heels with a vertical back and an engaged core until your legs are fully extended.
  • Next, pull the rower’s handle to your body to complete the drive phase.
  • Then move into the recovery phase with a vertical back and engaged core by extending your arms.
  • Once your arms are straight, bend your knees to return to the position you started in, and repeat.

If you’re new to rowing, it’s a good idea to solidify your form before you increase the intensity of your workouts. Many rowers come with resources to help you get started and there are a lot of helpful videos out there. Moving well will not only help you exercise more efficiently but you’ll also decrease the odds of an injury.

Will a Rowing Machine Help My Performance?

With regular use, the right rowing machine can increase your muscle strength and get your body in a prime position to burn some serious calories. Hopping on a rowing machine for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, endurance training, and functional fitness training all deliver a great cardio workout. So, while rowing machines may have been sitting idle in the back of the gym for the last decade, the health benefits they offer have finally gotten them enough attention to springboard them back into action.

Rowing Machine Factors to Consider

Rower Type and Resistance

Rowing machines are all about resistance, with the goal being to mimic the experience and provide the benefits of rowing on the water as closely as possible. A rowing machine can provide that resistance in any number of ways, be it air, magnetic, or water resistance. And across all three there are models available that let you adjust the level of resistance to best fit your desired workout intensity.

Here's a quick rundown of each rower type and how they work to provide resistance:

  • Air rowers rely on air being propelled through a flywheel, or the internal mechanism that creates resistance in this rower. Resistance is created based on how hard you pull. If you're pulling hard and creating quick intervals, the flywheel is moving quickly and creating a lot of resistance. Air rowers are good at replicating the real rowing action you'd expect on the water, but they also tend to be quite noisy when in use.
  • Magnetic rowers typically use strong magnets rotating around one another to create resistance as you pull. A great perk here is there's zero friction, which makes for a smooth and quiet workout. The major drawback of magnetic rowers is that they lack the authentic feel of rowing on the water.
  • Water rowers are the newest of the three rower types. When you take a stroke, paddles within a drum of water turn to create resistance. The harder your row, the more intense your workout. From an aesthetic point of view, water rowers also tend to be beautifully designed and offer rowing action that can often make you think you're actually on the water.

    Of course, with that level of authentic feel comes a major drawback: price. They tend to run steep, and they're by far among the most expensive models you'll find. You'll also have to clean your water rower regularly or else mold and mildew may pop up. Keep in mind that leaks are always a possibility too.

Want great equipment without breaking the bank? Check out our top picks for the best budget rowing machines.


Much like treadmills, rowing machines come in all shapes and sizes. Some are foldable, some can be stored vertically and some even separate into multiple parts. If you have a space picked out for your rowing machine, take measurements and compare them to any model you have your eye on. And don't be fooled by the fact that a particular model can fold. Sometimes a foldable rowing machine can have a bulkier profile than a streamlined model that can't fold.


A rowing machine can come with all the bells and whistles. Some of those features are practical and even innovative while other features come off as a tad gimmicky. Here are some things to consider when deciding which features matter the most to you:

  • Upkeep: No matter what machine you land on there will be a bit of maintenance involved so it can stay durable. Plan on switching out the batteries every so often in the monitors, oil chains for smooth strokes, clean dust off of the dampers and change out the water periodically if you have a water rower. You can also get in touch with each brand's customer service for maintenance best practices.
  • Seat: Rowing involves sitting in one place for an extended period. Look for a machine that is made of high-quality materials with ergonomic features, like the seat. How high a seat sits off the floor is also important. If you're someone with knee and back pain, you'll want a seat positioned high off the ground.
  • Monitor/Dashboard: Rowing machines will usually have a dashboard or monitor that provides you with basic stats. Others have full-on, high-definition monitors that share those same metrics but with the added perk of selectable workouts and rowing sessions. A monitor or dashboard doesn't necessarily impact the health benefits of a rowing machine per se, but knowing your metrics and sweating through a pre-programmed workout can go a long way toward helping you achieve your health goals. Depending on how important a monitor or dashboard is to you, look for a rowing machine model that lets you adjust and reposition the screen for optimal viewing.
  • Foot Straps: This one might sound like a given, but it can often be a feature that goes overlooked until a purchase has been made. Like the seat, don't take this element of a rowing machine for granted. Make sure the straps on any model you're considering are adjustable enough—you don't want your feet sliding around as you row.
  • Smart Features: Lastly, like so many workout machines on the market today, rowing machines can have all kinds of smart features, such as Bluetooth connectivity for headphones and wearable health devices, and can be paired with third-party workout apps for additional performance tracking. You may care about some, all, or none of these smart features, so make sure you do your homework not only to ensure you get a model that fits your needs and preferences but to ensure you're not paying a high price for a bunch of features you don't even plan to use.

FAQs About Rowing Machines

Is a rowing machine worth it?

Rowing machines may seem pricey compared to other cardio machines, however, they offer a full-body workout. Using a rowing machine is an incredibly efficient way to work out. You’ll use 86% of your muscles, and all of your muscle groups. In fact, you activate almost twice the muscle mass during rowing than you do when running or cycling. Use a rowing machine to build muscle while burning calories.

Is rowing hard on the knees?

Rowing is low-impact, which makes it ideal for people with joint pain. Unlike running on a treadmill, your legs don’t have to carry all of the weight of your body with each step, helping you get a great workout without increasing the chance of injury.

What is a rowing machine good for?

Like other cardio machines, a rowing machine is great for increasing cardiovascular endurance. What sets it apart from other cardio machines is its ability to grow muscle and strengthen muscle groups in the arms, legs, and core.

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