This is the time of year when we all strive to do our best and in the best health possible by making fitness resolutions. If yours involves improving your cardiovascular health, getting stronger, and working on flexibility, a rower is a trainer favorite when it comes to a full body workout.
What should you know if you are planning to add a rowing machine to your home gym, how to buy one, and what kind of smart features can you find on rowers? We address these questions below.
What is a smart rower?
Let us go back for a moment. A basic rower is like a small sled with a handle and a wheel. You sit in the seat, which slides back and forth on a short track, grasp the handle, then pull on the cable that is attached between the handle and the steering wheel. The tension on the cable makes it easier or harder to pull and simulates the motion of rowing a boat with oars.
Putting the word “smart” before “rower” can mean different things depending on the brand, so it’s worth reading the fine print on the model you’re considering. Some of the simpler rowers may have a small digital display, and the manufacturer may call it smart. Others may add some sort of 8-bit gaming system where you can move around a digital screen depending on how hard your pull-ups are (think Frogger). The most impressive smart models use HD touchscreens and can share immersive videos. At the top of the smart ladder, you can get interactive videos, online workouts, and Peloton-like courses.
What you need to know about smart rowers
Much like joining the club-style atmosphere of Peloton, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription to access updated videos and workouts on most smart rowers, so be prepared to pay to play (some of these memberships cost as much as a gym membership). And in some cases, the machine won’t do much without a paid subscription.
Other considerations? Is there bluetooth connectivity so that you can listen to workouts or music without disturbing others. Does the machine fold up for easy storage out of sight like under a bed? Is the mechanism that adjusts the tension of the machine noisy? Can it sync with fitness services like Strava to monitor your heart rate, or does it support this kind of built-in health monitoring?
If you already have a fitness tracker that you love and don’t want to pay monthly fees for workout videos and interactive classes, you might be better off using an unconnected rower and an iPad or TV.
Are rowers good?
Rowers (much like real rowing) have been popular for decades because they work your whole body, not just your arms as you might think. They can improve cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart. It is a low impact workout and protects your joints. Plus, it’s one of the few workouts where you can sort of relax and just step into the grove of rhythmic pulling.
What are the best smart rowers?
Choosing a smart rower is more than just finding the cheapest model, or the one that folds the most flat. You will need a model with a variety of workouts, a large screen so you can get lost in your row, and a model that can also monitor your vital signs to track your pace, heart rate, etc. . Here are our top picks for a smart rower.
Hydrow smart rower
With a 22-inch HD video display and over 3,000 workouts, the cleverly named Hydrow lets your workouts extend around the world. Row through London, Scotland, Miami and Boston with what Hydrow calls an “immersive experience of sights and sounds… with live and on-demand workouts from the water”. With support for Strava, you can also use your Apple Watch to monitor your heart rate.
Much like Peloton, with Hydrow you are meant to be part of the crew, looking your leader in the face, while receiving encouragement and instruction. Hydrow says it can even match your mood by offering workouts that will burn your muscles, or just take you on a lazy paddle. There are also workouts that don’t even use the Hydrow, but take place on a mat for stretching and strength training.
Ergatta smart rower
The wooden construction of this model hides its intelligent technology, which is notably based on data and not on people. The Android-powered smart touchscreen on this model displays 17.3 inches. Plus, it has bluetooth to use both heart rate monitors and audio.
Ergatta doesn’t want to dazzle you with sexy instructors with enviable abs. Instead, the Rower provides a mostly graphical interface that encourages you to take part in competitions or go for a new best-of with goal-oriented workouts. To gamify the system, you must complete milestones to unlock new workouts and challenges.
Echelon smart rower
Depending on the model of rower you choose, you’ll either use your smartphone to guide you or with the Row-S version, the Echelon comes with a 21.5-inch rotating touchscreen that guides you through the strokes, or swivels so you can keep track of your workout. out of water. Watch lessons live or on demand, or choose a panoramic video workout as well.
NordicTrack RW900 Smart Rower
Many of us remember NordicTrack from late night infomercials. NordicTrack also uses an adjustable 22-inch HD touchscreen (but smaller screen versions are also available) to deliver workouts in the studio or on the water. NordicTrack also offers streaming workouts where instructors can check your resistance and you just have to try and keep up. A built-in speaker means you don’t need headphones unless you want to use them.