Last Updated On November 5th, 2018
Indoor rowing machines offer a great way to keep in shape without having to travel to your local gym. Owning one of these machines allow you to easily fit in a workout whenever you have a spare moment, all in the comfort of your own home. However, with such a huge variety of rowing machines on the market, deciding which one to choose can be difficult. After all, the last thing you want to do is pay a high price on the wrong equipment, which then ends up gathering dust in the corner.
In this collection of rowing machine reviews, we will tell you all you need to know about the best rowing machines available in the UK. That way, you can easily decide which is right for you and your home at a price range that is suitable for you. So let’s get started!
Top 7 Best Rowing Machines Comparison
Top 7 Rowing Machine Reviews UK
Now that we have examined the different rowing machines available, let’s take a more comprehensive look at them.
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower with PM5 Monitor (Best Overall)
The impressive Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower is one of the most popular and highest selling models on the market today. Offering an intensely effective and convenient workout, this indoor air rower is well-known in the world of competitive rowing.
The Concept2 Model D is ultra-responsive, adjusting the resistance level according to your activity. If you need to slow down for a few minutes, this machine will reduce the effort required per stroke. But if you are going for gold, the Concept2 D will match your power so you really feel the burn, just like rowing on the sea.
A spiral damper enables quick and simple manual adjustments to the settings if you need to. This is great for beginners who are still building their strength and stamina.
Keeping track of your performance is effortless too, thanks to the PM5. This backlit monitor displays your speed, distance, pace, calories and watts – so you know when to push a little harder to smash your goals. The stored data can be downloaded to your PC via a USB port, although some people complained the connectivity can be unreliable.
The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower is ergonomically designed to fit your contours with ease. The handles boast a 10-degree bend which ensures your arms and hands are kept in a safe and natural position during use.
A few customers said they found the seat was a little uncomfortable, but you can get an extra Concept2 seat pad if necessary.
Once set up, this indoor rowing machine is rather large at 243.8 x 61 x 113 cm, so you will need to have adequate space for this model. However, when not in use, the Concept2 Model D can be effortlessly separated into two parts for easy storage.
You do not need to struggle with tools to dismantle it, either. A handy quick release mechanism means this rowing machine can be disassembled in moments.
2. JLL R200 (Best Magnetic)
The JLL R200 rowing machine is a belt-driven, magnetic rower. Boasting of providing a quiet, yet effective workout; this machine is a great choice for busy households.
Offering 10 different resistance levels, most home athletes should be able to work up an adequate sweat without disturbing family or housemates. Although, some experienced rowers said the maximum resistance wasn’t high enough for their needs. The combination of the belt drive and smooth slide seat promises a flawless and uninterrupted rowing motion. The seat itself offers extra padding for comfortable long-term use.
If you have a limited storage area, don’t worry. The JLL R200 Magnetic Rowing Machine UK can be quickly folded into an upright position which makes saving space easy. A spring-loaded mechanism keeps the machine locked in this position, so you will not have to fight to keep it collapsed; nor is it difficult to set back up for your next session.
The JLL R200 indoor rowing machine has fixed, highly durable foot plates designed to keep your feet safely secured. They are large enough to comfortably accommodate larger foot sizes but can be a little too big for petite users. Furthermore, some customers complained that the velcro foot straps lost their shape rather quickly with frequent use.
3. WaterRower Original Series (Best Water)
The WaterRower Original Series is certainly a unique and beautifully designed rowing machine.
Handcrafted in the USA out of Ash, Walnut or Cherry wood, this looks wonderful in any room. While it is one of the most aesthetically impressive rowing machines on our list, it is also the most expensive, so it may not be suitable for lower budgets.
This harnesses the tension power of water to offer a realistic and highly effective workout. No manual adjustment is required, as the tension self-regulates according to the action of the user. This mimics the feel of real-life rowing. The more force you put behind each pull, the higher the resulting tension, and the tougher your workout. Not only does the use of water mean the tension matches your effort, but it also makes for an incredibly smooth experience. There is no jerking or shaking when using this, each pull feels just like being on the river.
Users can view their live workout stats easily via the S4. The screen displays stroke number, duration, distance, rate and intensity. It can also be connected to a personal heart rate monitor, should you have one.
The foot plates are simple to adjust to fit any shoe size, but the straps provided may need replacing frequently due to loss of shape.
Unlike previous products in our review, this cannot be folded or dismantled for storage. Instead, it can be stood vertically on one end against a wall to clear space. The initial setup of this machine proved difficult for some customers.
4. JTX Freedom Air Rower (Best Air)
The JTX Freedom Air Rower is a top choice for your home gym. This machine combines the power of air and magnetic resistance to offer you a highly effective workout without needing to leave the house.
The reinforced aluminium frame is super-durable and able to support users weighing up to 130 kg. Rowing motion is smooth and realistic, due to the JTX DualTorque technology. Furthermore, because this machine feature 16 levels of resistance, both novice and seasoned athletes can benefit from using this. If you prefer a structured workout program, the JTX Freedom includes 8 pre-programmed workouts which make improving your fitness hassle-free. Simply select your preferred option and start rowing.
Unlike other products we have looked at, this comes complete with a wireless chest strap that monitors your heart rate. Live readings are transmitted back to the machine, enabling you to choose a target heart rate and have the tension level automatically adjusted to keep you working at the right intensity. A stylish built-in screen displays all the information you need to tailor your workout, to make sure you hit your targets every time.
On the downside, female users said the footplates were designed with male shoe sizes in mind. The included instruction manual isn’t very detailed, and the rower is also quite heavy and large, so maybe a struggle to move for some people.
5. Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine (Best under £200)
The Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine offers 10 levels of magnetic resistance for a smooth workout. This machine has a great low price option for complete novices through to experienced users. It suffers some issues with cosmetic durability, though, with many owners reporting flaking paint after light use.
Changing the tension level is done manually via the easy to reach adjustment knob under the LCD display screen. The seat is shaped to fit the body’s contours, so users can work out for long periods without discomfort. Moreover, the handlebars are also ergonomically designed, reducing strain and maintaining balance throughout the stroke. The LCD display shows distance, time, calories, stroke and count – however, the accuracy of this information can be a little dubious.
Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine features large footplates, which are specially constructed to minimise pressure on the ankles. They pivot with the users’ movements, reducing the risk of injury or aggravation of the joint. Feet are well-secured, thanks to the adjustable velcro straps. During use, the flywheel mechanism is impressively quiet, but the movement of the seat can be quite noisy. True to its name, once you have finished your workout, the Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine can be effortlessly folded up and stored out of the way until next time.
6. V-Fit Tornado Air Rower (Best Budget Choice)
The V-Fit Tornado Air Rower is a fantastic choice of cheap rowing machine for budding athletes on a budget. Probably the best budget rowing machine UK, it responds to match your abilities. The resistance level changes automatically according to your performance, so as you row faster, the more difficult it gets. This is great for new and intermediate rowers but may not pose enough of a challenge for seasoned exercisers. The mechanisms can also be quite noisy.
In line with other products on our list, this has ergonomically shaped handles and a contoured seat to maximise ease of use. The pivoting footplates feature sturdy heel cups and durable velcro straps to keep the feet secure. This offers a basic LCD screen which can show your calorie burn, strokes per minute, overall speed, distance and time. This is useful to have but some people said that the information wasn’t especially reliable.
Lack of space shouldn’t be an issue with this equipment. The unit easily folds up into a compact shape which can be stored away when not in use.
7. Body Sculpture Rower and Gym (Best Foldable)
The Body Sculpture Rower and Gym offers mini gym functionality, alongside its primary use as a compact rowing machine. Fantastic for smaller rooms, this lightweight machine can provide a cardio workout while also allowing the user to perform separate cable tension exercises for the upper body.
The greatest benefit of the Body Sculpture Rower and Gym is the convenience of not needing to get additional machines or resistant equipment – at least not if you are a beginner. More serious exercisers may find the Body Sculpture a little unstable for rowing sprints or be left unchallenged by the cable tension levels. Featuring three elastic cords, the user is able to choose the level of resistance they require by connecting to either one, two or all three for the maximum tension.
Both standing and sitting exercises can be easily performed with minimal fuss. Simply switch the additional handle attachments and adjust the tension to get started. For those new to cable exercises, the included instructional DVD will no doubt be useful. However, some customers found that the resistance bands lost strength fairly quickly, so this machine may not stand up to the requirements of a committed strength trainer.
As expected, the Body Sculpture Rower and Gym has a display screen to track your workout, albeit rather basic. The screen itself is very small, and you must press the single button to cycle through each reading. Clearing space after you have completed your full body workout is super-easy with this rowing machine. The Body Sculpture Rower and Gym folds up neatly and quickly, so you can pack it away in around 2 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Rowing Machines
Are Rowing Machines Good For Fitness?
The answer is yes! With an obesity epidemic on our hands, more people are being advised to get better exercise to improve their health and protect against chronic diseases. The world of gym equipment can be confusing to a beginner, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowers which should you use? The rowing machine is truly one of the best options to slim down, tone up and build your stamina fast. Here we take a look at some of the benefits of rowing machines for fitness.
Total Body Workout
One of the best things about rowing machines is their ability to offer a total body workout to the user. Not only does your heart and lungs get a great aerobic challenge, but all major muscle groups in the body are put under strain too. With each and every stroke, the leg, buttock, back, shoulder, stomach and arm muscles are recruited to effectively complete the movement.
This combination of aerobic and resistance training in a machine means that users can feel, and see, the benefits very quickly with regular use. Muscle strength and tone are improved, as is overall cardiovascular fitness; thus providing immeasurable benefits to the users’ health and physique.
Many people shy away from high-impact activities such as jogging or using the treadmill for marathon training due to the strain it puts on the joints. Overweight individuals or those who have a history of joint problems need to be especially wary of causing damage when starting an exercise regime. However, this is no reason to write-off exercise altogether. In fact, regular strengthening exercises can significantly improve muscle density, which in turn supports and protects the joints from further damage.
Unlike high impact exercises, rowing machines put little to no pressure upon the joints. When using these machines, you are in a seated position, performing a smooth, fluid motion which creates no stress for the knees or ankles. Rowing machines are not just for those who suffer joint pain, though. Regularly undertaking low-impact activities in place of high-impact ones is the best way to keep fit, while also preserving the health of your joints in the future.
If you are looking to lose weight, you need to burn calories. The simple truth is, creating a ‘calorie deficit’, where you have expended more energy than you have consumed – is the only way to cut fat and drop those pounds. The trouble is, most people have busy lives and need to get results in as short a time as possible.
This is where rowing machines really stand up to the limelight. Using it is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories fast. For example, an average 13 stone man can burn an incredible 377 calories by rowing vigorously for 30 minutes. With such a high-calorie burn potential, using a rowing machine is sure to get you back into those jeans in no time.
How Do You Choose A Rowing Machine?
Now we have looked at some of the benefits of rowing machines, you are probably about to rush out the door to buy it. But, which should you choose? Purchasing a rowing machine is quite a high-price investment for most people, so it is important that you make the right choice for your needs. In order to make the right decision, here are a few things you should consider first:
Consider Your Available Space
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a spare room as a dedicated home gym. Therefore, you must think about where you are going to use and store your new rowing machine once you have bought it. Make sure you have accurately measured the space you have available for a rowing machine so that you can be confident the ones you are considering are able to comfortably fit the space. Luckily, most rowing machines are fairly compact, at least when compared to other exercise machines.
If you don’t have a permanent home for a rowing machine, don’t despair. Many models are able to fold up for convenient storage when not in use, so you can clear the space again once you have finished your workout.
Choose A Resistance Type
Generally, rowing machines are available in three main types. Some machines will offer a combination of these types. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. By understanding these differences, you will be in a better position to decide which is best for you.
1. Water Rowing Machine
These offer perhaps the most realistic rowing experience. These models are the best choice for seasoned rowers or those who wish to replicate the feel of being out on the sea. They are also the most expensive. These machines don’t have adjustable resistance levels. Instead, it is determined by the users’ actions. Just like real life, the harder and faster you row, the greater the tension against the water. They can be quite noisy as the paddles are repeatedly pulled through the water, but most people find the sound soothing as it is similar to that heard when rowing outdoors.
2. Magnetic Rowing Machine
Magnetic rowing machines are usually the quietest option. These models use a flywheel which recruits magnets to create resistance. They are easy to use, offering a smooth and comfortable rowing motion. Magnetic rowing machines are highly durable and rarely require any maintenance. However, they are usually the largest kind, so they need the most space. Once you have gained momentum, the tension level can feel lower than that which is provided by other types of machines.
3. Air Rowing Machine
Air rowing machines are by far the most commonly found machines in commercial gyms. If you have ever used a rowing machine at your local health centre, chances are it was an air rower. These machines tend to be the nosiest option available. But they feel very smooth and realistic to use. They create resistance from the breeze which flows over the internal flywheel. This wheel is attached to a chain, which is connected to the handlebar. When you pull back on the handle, the flywheel spins. Just like water rowing machines, the tension level changes according to the rowing intensity. The faster you row, the harder it gets.
Conclusion: Which Is The Best?
Indoor rowing machines are certainly a fantastic and convenient way to keep fit in your own home. With so many collapsible options, this super-effective piece of exercise equipment can offer a low-impact, full body workout that burns through calories without requiring much space at a price range that’s right for you.
All of the rowing machines featured in our rowing machine reviews are truly great options, but if we had to choose the best home rowing machine, it would have to be the Concept2 Model D.
We love how this bestselling and ergonomic rowing machine is highly durable, sturdy and compatible with all fitness levels or abilities. It features a high-quality PM5 monitor and the resistance increases intelligently with the users’ effort. So, as your fitness improves, you can still enjoy a tough workout. Finally, the ability to download your workout data from the monitor to your computer truly sealed the deal for us.