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Best Compact Rowing Machines for Small Spaces

    Rowing machine

    If you live in a small apartment or are limited on space in the home, a compact rowing machine is the best home exercise equipment you can invest in. 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 storage is easy.

    If you ask a fitness expert about 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 for strengthening muscles. They provide a total body workout and help to get results fast.

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

    Best Compact Rowing Machine Reviews

    1. Stamina Air Rover Review – The Most Professional

    stamina ats 1399 air rowing machine



    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 air resistance. Reviewers like it for its wide footplates, inclined seat rail, and thickly padded seat. Many think it is the best alternative to the Concept2 Model D rowing machine.


    • It allows users 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 is foldable for storage. You can use it in a small room comfortably
    • The performance monitor accurately displays 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


    • Be prepared because it is rather noisy, but you might get rid of it by using headphones
    • 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.

    Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
    • EFFECTIVE, PROVEN RESULTS: Provides a nearly unsurpassed aerobic workout without the relentless pounding to your joints. Quickly improve your fitness while drastically reducing injury risks. This low impact, full body workout targets all major muscle groups and pushes your heart rate to levels that increase your metabolism so you can burn calories and fat more efficiently. Supports all body types and frequent use. Feel secure and safe while rowing your way to a stronger, tighter, healthier body.
    • DYNAMIC AIR RESISTANCE: One of the main benefits of air resistance is that it always matches your pace. Row harder if you desire more resistance and ease off if you want less. The air transfer system constantly adjusts to match your rowing speed. Designed for rigorous use, The Stamina 1403 provides an efficient, smooth rowing stroke and the intensity of your workout is up to you.

    2. Stamina 1215 Orbital – Giving Full Range of Rowing Motion

    stamina 1215 orbital rower with free motion arms


    The compact rowers from Stamina are the highest quality ones on the market. 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, a compact frame, and a 5-year warranty.


    • The rowing arms are foldable, making the rowing machine 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 an extended session
    • ​It enables users to adjust the levels and incline of the machine to customize it to meet a variety of fitness needs
    • Users feel natural and smooth rowing, similar to that of real rowing action
    • Easy and compact storage


    • It would be useful if the handlebars could be adjustable
    • Beginners find it hard to use 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 do not have enough money to buy a more professional product. It can be adjusted for different resistance levels. It is a great buy for a family.

    Stamina 1215 Orbital
    376 Reviews
    Stamina 1215 Orbital
    • Compact rowing machine with full range-of-motion rowing that mimics rowing on the water
    • Smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance; adjustable tension controls

    3. LifeSpan RW1000 – Highest Weight Capacity

    LifeSpan RW1000


    LifeSpan RW1000 provides 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’s side.

    girl with rowing machine


    • Although it comes with an air-resistance flywheel, RW1000 is a quiet rowing machine because of its unique technology. Hence, you will not disturb anybody around you
    • A foldable rowing machine for easy storage
    • It comes with three LCD consoles showing you the calories you burned, the distance, speed, and the number of strikes, enabling you to track your development
    • ​It supports up to 300 lbs, so it is suitable for most 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. It is good for the average person or beginner but may not be suitable for a pro. Storage is simple.

    LifeSpan RW1000
    109 Reviews
    LifeSpan RW1000
    • Features a smooth and quiet eddy current drive system with a 16.5-pound flywheel
    • Solid steel frame; assembled dimensions measure 90 x 18.5 x 23 inches (L x W x H)

    4. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 – Best Inexpensive Rowing Machine

    stamina bodytrack glider


    Body Trac Glider 1050 is the best budget rowing machine. Even if this machine is a basic model with gas shock resistance, it has thousands of positive reviews. It is small, folds up, and is an affordable option. However, it is 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 slightly for the first few minutes
    • Some complain about 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 from functioning correctly. You need to wait for it to cool down

    This product is the best compact rower you can buy regarding the price. However, compared to the best rowers, this one is very basic. But it is suitable for beginners and has little workout space.

    Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
    2,622 Reviews
    Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
    • Unique, full-range-of-motion rowing mimics being on the water
    • Multi-function electronic monitor to keep you motivated

    5. Stamina Rowing Exercise Machine

    stamina inmotion


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


    • A good budget option, making it 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 you switch between 5 levels. Set it to a lower level to do more intense exercises better for cardio. And by setting to the higher level, you can better strengthen your muscle groups
    • 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 it provides good training at a low price for an average user. Plus, it requires minimum floor space.

    Stamina Rowing Exercise Machine - Foldable
    • Additional $5 shipping charge applies Row away fat and burn calories Rowing is one of the best exercises for more efficient calorie and fat burning without impact on your joints
    • Every time you pull back, you're strengthening and toning your legs, arms, back, abs and buttocks

    6. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower – Best for Beginners

    Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower

    • Offers multiple resistance so you can switch up the intensity of your rowing exercises
    • Extra padding and a rotary design
    • You can easily track each workout with the large LCD display and monitor. You can track your time, count, calories, and total count so you can stay on top of your progress


    The Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine is foldable, making it the ideal exercise equipment for a small space. Its 14-level adjustable resistance also allows for a better cardio workout. It provides the best total body workout for beginners, is easy to use, and makes exercise much more approachable.


    • Has an easy to use LCD monitor that displays distance, time, stroke, total count, and the number of calories burned during each workout
    • The wide handlebar is 17.3-inches and provides a comfortable and stable grip. The ultra-quiet durable rowing belt also allows for quiet operation, so you can watch tv or listen to music as you row
    • Seat is contoured, so you can comfortably sit for an extended exercise session.
    • The oversized footplates and footrests feature quick-release adjustable straps


    • Some feel that the footrest and the maximum recovery spot are the same
    • Many found that the LCD monitor didn’t work as well as it should have and is hard to read

    If you are a beginner, this rowing machine may prove to be the ideal first machine for you to get started on your fitness journey. It folds down for easy storage, making it good for small spaces, and it has all the basics you would expect with an affordable magnetic rowing machine.

    Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine Foldable Exercise Rower Adjustable Resistance for Cardio
    65 Reviews
    Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine Foldable Exercise Rower Adjustable Resistance for Cardio
    • 【Various Workout Equipment-Multiple Resistance 】Switch up the intensity of your rowing workout with the convenient adjustable resistance tension knob. With a simple twist, you can increase or decrease resistance so your rower workout can remain challenging and effective throughout your rowing fitness journey.
    • 【 Extra Padding & Rotary Design-Fully Padded Seat&Multi-angle Rotary Footplates 】A sliding, extra padded and upholstered seat to support your bottom and back, ensure proper blood flow in the glutes for prolonged and vigorous rowing workouts. Large strapping footplates that are suitable for users of different sizes provide optimal comfort and support on this indoor rowing machine.

    7. Fitness Reality 1000 Rower – Quiet Operation

    Fitness Reality 1000 Rower

    • You also receive the MyCloudFitness App with a premium 30-day membership with your rowing machine. This will take your fitness journey to the next level.
    • You can enjoy water workouts and nutrition tracking all on one platform with this Bluetooth magnetic rower
    • Personalized programs, world tours with scenic workouts, and nutrition with less confusion


    The Fitness Reality 1000 rowing machine works well with Bluetooth on an iPhone, iPad, Amazon Fire, and most smartphones with Bluetooth. The rower is also very quiet, and assembly is easy. All the tools you need for assembly are included. The LCD is easy to see and toggle between calories, meters, and time readings.


    • Has a Bluetooth and tablet holder, so you can enjoy scenic routes, track your workout, and do so much more with the MyCloudFitness app
    • The large LCD is 3.5-inches and displays distance, time, total count, calories burned, strokes/minute, and scan
    • Provides the best total body workout with footpads that allow you to do curls, upright rows, and front raises
    • The slide rail is 48-inches long and can be adjusted for a range of user heights between 4’9″ and 6’4″


    • The app may have trouble syncing at times
    • Doesn’t roll very well when it is time to store it away
    • The pedals on this rower are only anchored in one spot, and the placement may be too posterior for some users

    The Fitness Reality 1000 rower is a great choice if you want a quieter model that is also compact but still has all the features you are looking for in the best rowing machine.

    Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance | Rowing Machines for Home Use | LCD Monitor | Compact for Home Workout | Tone Muscle Improve Heart Health
    1,331 Reviews
    Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance | Rowing Machines for Home Use | LCD Monitor | Compact for Home Workout | Tone Muscle Improve Heart Health
    • FULL BODY LOW-IMPACT YET POWERFUL WORKOUT - The unique design allows for a full-body, effective workout for every major muscle group - including back, legs, arms, abs and glutes. Rowing is also widely known to aid in improving cardiovascular health and burning calories.
    • ADJUSTABLE HYDRAULIC RESISTANCE WITH MANUAL CONTROL KNOB - Manually adjust the tension with a control knob so you can easily customize your workout to fit your needs. Use the unique arm bar angles to exercise your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles.

    8. Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine – Good Budget Option

    Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine

    • Provides a full body, low impact, and powerful workout with its unique design that targets every muscle group
    • Durable steel frame construction guarantees durability. It is sturdy and can withstand an up to 250-pound weight capacity
    • Ergonomic design makes each workout more comfortable


    Overall, the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine is an affordable and budget-friendly option for those who want a more compact rowing machine but don’t have much money to spend. It is a great choice for a low-impact workout to tone muscle and improve heart health.


    • Features an adjustable hydraulic resistance with a manual control knob so you can manually adjust the tension and customize each workout to your individual needs
    • You can track your progress easily with the LCD monitor that displays time, row count, and how many calories are burned. It also has a scan function so you can scroll through metrics every six seconds
    • The ergonomic design with its molded seat, pivoting footplates, and safety straps make it easier to finish a longer workout. The two strap positions are good for securing any size feet, so you can row in comfort
    • Foldable design makes it compact and easy to store when it is not in use
    • Easy-grip armbars and steel frame construction assists in exercising your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles. You can gain endurance and speed with the rubber grip handles without worrying about your hands slipping during your rowing workout


    • Arms may be shorter on this machine compared to similar models
    • During the first few hundred reps, some reported that the cylinder began losing its resistance

    The Lanos Hydraulic rowing machine is an affordable choice when looking for compact rowing machines for home use. With its adjustable resistance and other premium features, you will find that you can get in a good workout and tone your muscles and improve heart health day by day.

    Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance | Rowing Machines for Home Use | LCD Monitor | Compact for Home Workout | Tone Muscle Improve Heart Health
    1,331 Reviews
    Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine | Adjustable Resistance | Rowing Machines for Home Use | LCD Monitor | Compact for Home Workout | Tone Muscle Improve Heart Health
    • FULL BODY LOW-IMPACT YET POWERFUL WORKOUT - The unique design allows for a full-body, effective workout for every major muscle group - including back, legs, arms, abs and glutes. Rowing is also widely known to aid in improving cardiovascular health and burning calories.
    • ADJUSTABLE HYDRAULIC RESISTANCE WITH MANUAL CONTROL KNOB - Manually adjust the tension with a control knob so you can easily customize your workout to fit your needs. Use the unique arm bar angles to exercise your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles.

    Buying Guide

    Woman on rowing machine

    Types of small rowing machines

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

    Hydraulic rowers

    Typically, hydraulic rowers are cheap and portable rowing machine options, 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.

    hydraulic piston

    Air rowers

    These indoor rowing machines come with a flywheel that generates resistance and provides a 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 most popular indoor rowing machine recommended by experts that use air resistance.


    Magnetic rowing machine

    A magnetic rowing machine is more expensive but provides a better rowing experience and higher velocity exercise. 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 the noise level is critical for you, get this resistance type.

    magnetic resistance

    Water rowing machine

    These indoor rowers are the best, providing a 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 handlebars, the moving paddles generate the counter-power.

    Also, you can hear the sound of the splashing water when using a water rower. But they are not the best compact rowing machines since they are big and need a large workout area to use them comfortably and safely. Check out the WaterRower Natural rowing machine review.


    As you search for a compact machine, you can get one with a hydraulic piston, wind, or magnetic resistance system. Read more about the different types of rowing machines here.

    Pre-Purchase Considerations

    • Even if only small rowers are listed below, always see the model’s size.
    • If you are serious about working out at home, get an air rower or magnetic rowing machine. These models have more functions, are more durable, and are 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 purchasing.
    • Depending on how much you have in your budget, you can typically purchase a portable rowing machine for between $100 and $500. The better air rowing machines are more expensive but 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 a good buy if you want to lose weight and keep your body fit and healthy.

    And the winner for the best folding rowing machine is..?

    Because of the workout experience, price, reviews, and premium features, our winner for the best folding rowing machine is the Stamina Air Rower. The best compact rowing machine provides a superb workout at home. If you are searching for a more professional machine, that is why I also listed it on my best rowing machines list

    Compact rowing machine FAQ

    Still have questions about the best compact rowing machine for small space? Read our brief FAQ below for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.

    Does a rowing machine reduce belly fat?

    Yes. Rowing is a more than efficient way for you to reduce belly fat and lose weight. It helps burn calories while also building stronger and more defined muscles. The rowing machine allows you to achieve a full body workout that is low impact.

    Start by warming up for five to ten minutes with some gentle rowing. Once you have warmed up, go for ten minutes of continuous rowing at your ideal workout intensity. Cool down with another five to ten minutes of gentle rowing, so your body can transition back into a rest state.

    Why should you buy a compact rowing machine?

    Compact rowing machines are good for low-impact exercise, and their smaller footprint makes them good exercise equipment for a smaller space.

    What are the top benefits of owning a small compact indoor rower?

    When you engage in indoor rowing exercise, you can improve your stamina overall and your fitness level and strength. It can help boost immune system function and mood and have an almost meditative effect on your mind since it is a repetitive and low-impact movement with little noise.

    How important is proper rowing form?

    The proper rowing form as you exercise allows you to achieve more power while preventing injuries that can occur due to improper technique on your rowing machine.

    Do indoor rowers build muscle mass?

    Since the rowing machine effectively engages all your major muscle groups during each stroke you take, it can be a good way to build muscle mass as you exercise.

    Last update on 2023-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

    7 thoughts on “Best Compact Rowing Machines for Small Spaces”

    1. Thanks for the review. I have rather small space to in my room, but I love the rowing exercise. I’m going to purchase Stamina Air Rower.

    2. I have small flat that is why I’m searching for a compact model. But, do they provide such an efficient rowing workout as the better models?

      1. It is one of the most efficient types of workouts. During the rowing movement your lower, upper and core muscles are engaged. So, it is a full body workout. On top of that, it increases your heart rate, so it is a good cardio workout as well making it an efficient fat-burning exercise.

      1. Yes, most of the workout equipment above are folding so you can put it in the booty of the car. Plus, they are not heavy.

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