Best 5 Compact Rowing Machine Reviews

If you live in a small flat, a compact rowing machine is may be the best home exercise equipment you can invest into. Since they have a small footprint, you can use them comfortably even if you have just a small room. Also, they are foldable, so you store them easily, and you can put into the boot of your car if you travel.

If you ask a fitness expert what is the most beneficial cardio equipment for home, the answer is a treadmill or an indoor rowing machine for sure.

Personally, I prefer a rower since it is useful not only for improving the cardiovascular system and burning fat but also strengthening muscles. They provide a total body workout, and you can get results fast.

Within this article, I would like to give you help to find the optimal small rowing machine. You will learn the various types, get buying tips and find the reviews of the best five models.

Comparison & Reviews of Best Compact Rowers


  Size (Assembled)


Rating & User Reviews



Stamina Air Rower

77 by 18 by 22 (L x W x H)


The best buy!



Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower

48 x 32.5 x 27.75 inches (LxWxH)

Hydraulic cylinder resistance



LifeSpan RW1000

87 x 19 x 23 inches

16.5-pound flywheel



Stamina Body Trac Glider

50 x 12 x 10 inches

Gas-shock resistance

For the price the best value!



Stamina InMotion Rower

53.5 x 19 x 11 inches

Hydraulic cylinder resistance


(This chart is updated once a day)

Stamina Air Rover Review

This folding rowing machine is one of the most popular in this price range. As it is in its name, it comes with an air resistance. Users like it for its wide foot plates, inclined seat rail and thickly padded seat. Many users think it is the best alternative to Concept 2.

Pros & Features

  • You can set the workout intensity, so it is suitable for all the members of your family.
  • The wind resistance system provides a smooth and realistic rowing stroke.
  • It has a small footprint and foldable. You can use it in a small room comfortably.
  • The performance monitor displays accurately essential data you need to know about your workout such as distance, time and calories burned.
  • Its oversized seat, large footplates and foot straps provide comfortable and efficient usage for almost any body-type.


  • Well, be prepared that is rather noisy, but by using headphones you can get rid of it.
  • The design engages more the upper body. So, if you want to focus on your lower body as well, you may not find it beneficial.
  • Advanced users find it easy to work out with it. If you are a pro, you will need something more professional.

Stamina Air Rower (Black, Chrome)
522 Reviews
Stamina Air Rower (Black, Chrome)
If we check the price and the features, Stamina Air Rower is worth considering. It is sturdy and provides a good workout for an average user for years.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine Review

Rowers from Stamina are the highest quality ones on the market these days. And that applies to this model even if it comes with hydraulic cylinder resistance. It provides smooth movement, 12 levels of resistance, compact design and 5 years warranty.

Pros & Features

  • The rowing arms are foldable making it easy to store.
  • It provides a full range of motion that leads to better muscle stimulation.
  • Good features for comfort: thickly padded seat and handle grips for extended workouts.
  • ​You can adjust the resistance and the incline of the machine so that you can customize for your fitness needs.
  • Users experience natural, and smooth rowing that is almost is the same as real rowing.


  • It would be useful if the handlebars could be adjustable.
  • Beginner ladies find it hard to strike with it even at the lowest level.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
288 Reviews
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
Overall, Stamina 1215 is a good option for those who need a compact machine and does not have enough money yet to buy a more professional product. As it can be adjusted for different levels, it is a great buy for a family.

LifeSpan RW1000 Review

LifeSpan RW1000 provides a smooth and quiet workout. It supports five levels of resistance making it suitable for anyone in the family. Although, it needs some improvements from the manufacturer side.

Pros & Features

  • Although it comes with a flywheel because of it unique technology, it is quiet. Hence, you will not disturb anybody around you.
  • It is a fold up rowing machine so that you can store it easily.
  • ​It comes with three LCD console showing you calories you burned, the distance, speed and the number of strikes.
  • ​It supports up to 300lbs, so suitable for most of the overweight people.
  • ​It comes with padded hand grips and swivel foot pedals so even if you use it for a long time it will not hurt your hands and feet.


  • Some users have complained about broken plastic parts.
  • A few users have negative opinions because this rower has no chains. The mechanism is just a strap of fabric.
  • Also, a few users complain about skipping on the floor while they strike.

LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
96 Reviews
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
Lifespan RW1000 Rower is a robust model, but there are a few minor problems with it. Anyway, it is good for an average user, but not for pros.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Review

It is the best budget rowing machine for sure as it is about $100. Even if it is a basic model with gas shock resistance, it has almost 2000 positive reviews. It is tiny, foldable and affordable, but it is certainly not for intermediate or advanced users.


  • It is really small can be used almost anywhere, plus foldable. You take it with yourself everywhere you go.
  • Unlike other rowers, Body Trac Glider 1050 has two sperate handles, so you have the feeling as if you row in a real boat.
  • ​It has an adjustable seat, so you can set it for your height to perform the move more comfortably and efficiently.
  • ​Even if it is a cheap model, it is sturdy and does not wobble. Also, it has floor protection.
  • The resistance can be adjusted manually with a control knob.


  • Like other gas shock resistance fitness equipment, it is noisy and creaks a little bit for the first few minutes.
  • A few users complain about the oil leaking from the resistance cylinder. That can lead to pressure loss.
  • If you use it for a long time, the pistons can heat up. That can stop the machine to function correctly. You need to wait a little until it cools down.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
1947 Reviews
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Regarding the price, it is the best compact rower you can buy. However, compared to other models it is a very basic one, but might be suitable for beginners.

Stamina InMotion Rower Review

It is another affordable rower with basic features. It supports 5 levels of resistance. Its slim and compact design makes it a good option if you live in a small apartment but want to burn calories at home.


  • It is the cheapest, actually under $100 making it an excellent exercise equipment to buy if you are on a budget.
  • Users find it comfortable to use even if they have bad knees.
  • ​Very easy to assemble even if you are not a techie.
  • ​Its hydraulic resistance is at the front of the equipment while others have it beneath the user. That makes the strikes more natural.
  • ​You can switch between 5 levels of resistance. By setting it to low you can do more intense workouts that are better for cardio, by setting to the higher resistance you can strengthen your muscles more.


  • A few users complain about broken parts.
  • Also, there are a few bad opinions about the customer service and missing parts.

Stamina InMotion Rower, Silver
124 Reviews
Stamina InMotion Rower, Silver
For this price, you will not get a perfect equipment for sure, but for an average user, it provides a good workout at a low price.

Buyer's Guide

What types of rowers are there?

The most important feature of a rower is the system it has for resistance.

Hydraulic Piston Resistance

Typically, these are the cheap rowing machines, and they are almost always foldable. Hydraulic pistons are attached to the handlebars that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the resistance. Compared to others they do not provide such smooth movement.

hydraulic piston fitness rowing machine

Air Resistance

These fitness machines come with a flywheel that generates the resistance, and they provide smoother operation. The more the wheel turns, the more power you use for your workout. Some users do not like these models because they are a bit noisy.


Magnetic Resistance

These models are more expensive but give better user experience. The resistance is generated by electromagnets. You can choose from various levels, and they are the quietest. However, they are bigger and cannot be folded.


Water Resistance

This types of indoor rowers are the best for sure. However, they are big and cost far more than the others. They provide a feel as if you row in a real boat. There is a water tank with paddles inside, and as you pull the handle bars, the moving paddles generate the resistance for the training. Also, you can hear the sound of the splashing water. But they are not compact rowing machines, since they are big and need space to use them comfortably and safely.

The Concept2 Model D is the far the most popular model recommended by experts that use water resistance.

water fitness row machines

As you are searching for a compact machine, you can get one only with a hydraulic piston, air or magnetic resistance.

Pre-Purchase Considerations

  • Even if only small rowers are listed below, always check the size of the model.
  • If you are serious about working out at home, get an air rower or magnetic one. These models provide more functions, more durable and smoother to use.
  • ​Do not forget to check the weight capacity of the product you want to buy. Typically, they support around 300lbs.
  • ​Always check the customer reviews of the machine you want to buy to see how it works for others. If most of the users have positive reviews, it is a good sign that it is worth to purchase.
  • ​Depending how much you can afford you can buy portable rowing machines from about $100 to $500. The better air rowers are more expensive, but they give more efficient workouts.

There is no doubt that a home rower is good buy if you wan to lose weight and keep your body fit and healthy. You can read about its benefits here.

And The Winner Is..?

Because of the workout experience, the price, the customer reviews and its premium features, our winner is the Stamina Air Rower. It is a small rower that provides a superb workout at home.

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