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 and portable, so the storage is easy.
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 home 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 helps to 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 resistance types, get buying tips and find the reviews of the best models.
Compact Rowing Machines Reviews
1. Stamina Air Rover Review – The Most Professional
This compact and 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. Reviewers like it for its wide foot plates, inclined seat rail and thickly padded seat. Many think it is the best alternative to Concept 2 Model D rowing machine.
- It allows to 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 for storage. 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, heart rate and calories burned. Useful data for weight loss progress tracking.
- Its oversized seat, large footplates and foot straps for comfortable and efficient usage.
- Durable steel frame.
- Transportation wheels.
- Well, be prepared that is rather noisy, but by using headphones you might get rid of it.
- It engages more the upper body. So, if you want to focus on your lower body as well, you may not find it beneficial.
- Advanced athletes find it easy to work out with it. If you are a pro, you will need something more professional.
- The LCD monitor is rather small.
If we check the price and the features, this air rover is worth considering for small spaces. It is sturdy and provides a good workout for an average trainer for years.
2. Stamina 1215 Orbital – Giving Full Range of Rowing Motion
Very compact design but gives good workout experience
The compact 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. The Orbital rowing machine provides smooth movement, 12 levels of adjustments, compact frame and 5 years warranty.
- The rowing arms are foldable making it easy to store.
- Full range of rowing motion that leads to better rowing strokes and with that muscle stimulation.
- Good features for comfort: thickly padded seat and handle grips for extended session.
- It enables to adjust the levels and the incline of the machine to customize it for your fitness needs.
- Users feel natural, and smooth rowing that is almost is the same as real rowing action.
- Easy storage
- It would be useful if the handlebars could be adjustable.
- Beginner ladies find it hard to strike with it even at the lowest resistance level.
- No caster wheels.
- Tiny LCD monitor.
Overall, Orbital 1215 is a good option for those who need a compact rowing machine and does not have enough money yet to buy a more professional product. As it can be adjusted for different resistance levels, it is a great buy for a family.
3. LifeSpan RW1000 – Highest Weight Capacity
LifeSpan RW1000 provides a smooth and quiet training. It supports five levels of adjustable resistance making it suitable for anyone in the family. Although, it needs some improvements from the manufacturer side.
- Although it comes with an air-resistance flywheel because of its unique technology, RW1000 is a quiet rowing machine. Hence, you will not disturb anybody around you.
- A foldable rowing machine for easy storage.
- It comes with three LCD console showing you calories you burned, the distance, speed and the number of strikes. Track your development.
- 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 reviewers have complained about broken plastic parts.
- A few customers have negative opinions because this rower has no chains. The mechanism is just a strap of fabric.
- Also, a few complaints about skipping on the floor while they strike.
Lifespan RW1000 Rower is a robust model, but there are a few minor problems with it. It is good for an average, but not for pros. But, the storage is simple.
4. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 – Best Inexpensive Rowing Machine
The best price/value compact rowing machine
Body Trac Glider 1050 is the best budget rowing machine for sure costing about $100. Even if this machine is a basic model with gas shock resistance, it has thousands of positive reviews. It is tiny, fold up and affordable, but certainly not for intermediate or advanced athletes.
- Because of the small frame it can be used almost anywhere, plus foldable. You take it with you everywhere you go.
- Unlike other rowers, it has two separate handles, so you have the rowing feeling as if you row in a real boat.
- Adjustable seat to set it for your height to perform the move more comfortably and efficiently.
- Even if this is a cheap model, it is sturdy (strong frame) and does not wobble. Also, it has floor protection.
- It can be adjusted manually with a control knob.
- Easy assembly and storage.
- Like other gas shock fitness equipment, it is noisy and creaks a little bit for the first few minutes.
- Some complain about the oil leaking from the 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.
Regarding the price, this product is the best compact rower you can buy. However, compared to the best rowers this one is a very basic one. But it is suitable for beginners and little workout space.
5. InMotion Rower – The Cheapest
It is another affordable and compact exercise machine with basic features. It supports 5 resistance level. Its slim and compact design makes it a good option if you live in a small apartment but want to burn calories at home.
- 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 assembly.
- Its hydraulic resistance is at the front of the workout equipment while others have it beneath the machine. That makes the strikes more natural.
- It lets switch between 5 levels. Set it to a low a lower level to do more intense exercises that are better for cardio. And by setting to the higher level you can strengthen your muscle groups more.
- Quick storage.
- A few customers complain about broken parts.
- Also, there are a few bad opinions about the customer service and missing parts.
- Small display monitor.
For this price, you will not get a perfect rower for sure, but for an average user, it provides a good training at a low price. Plus, it requires minimum floor space.
Types of small rowing machines
The most important feature of a rower is the system it has for resistance.
Typically, these are the cheap and portable rowing machines, and they are almost always foldable. Hydraulic pistons are attached to the handlebars that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the hardness. Compared to others they do not provide such smooth movement.
These indoor rowing machines come with a flywheel that generates the resistance, and they provide smoother operation. The more the wheel turns, the more power you should use. Some do not like these models because they are a bit noisy.
The Concept2 Model D is the far the most popular model recommended by experts that use air resistance.
Magnetic rowing machines are more expensive but give better rowing experience. The adjustable resistance is generated by electromagnets. It lets you choose from various resistance levels, and they are the quietest. However, they are bigger and cannot be folded. If noise level is critical for you, get this resistance type.
Water rowing machine
This types of indoor rowers are the best for sure providing natural rowing experience. However, they are big and cost far more than the others. They give 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 counter power. Also, you can hear the sound of the splashing water. But they are not the best compact rowing machines, since they are big and need large workout area to use them comfortably and safely. Check out the WaterRower Natural rowing machine review.
As you are searching for a compact machine, you can get one only with a hydraulic piston, wind or magnetic resistance system. Read more about the different types of rowing machines here.
- Even if only small rowers are listed below, always see the size of the model.
- If you are serious about working out at home, get an air rower or magnetic rowing machines. These models have more functions, more durable and smoother to use.
- Inspect the weight capacity of the product you want to buy. Typically, they support around 300 lbs. It should have a solid steel frame.
- Always read the customer reviews of the machine you want to buy to see how it works for others. If most of the reviewers have positive reviews, that is a good sign that the machine is worth to purchase.
- Depending how much you can buy a portable rowing machine from about $100 to $500. The better air rowing machines are more expensive, but they give more efficient cardio and strength workouts. Plus, they have many inbuilt programs.
- If you have to relocate it, check if the machine has transportation wheels.
There is no doubt that a home rower is good buy if you want to lose weight and keep your body fit and healthy.
And The Winner Is..?
Because of the workout experience, the price, the reviews and its premium features, our winner is the Stamina Air Rower. It is best compact rowing machine that provides a superb workout at home. If you are searching for a more professional machine, that is why I also listed on my best rowing machines list.