WaterRower Review – Is this indoor rower worth the money?

Last Updated on the July 27, 2020

WaterRower review

The WaterRower is a high-end wooden rowing machine with a water resistance system, enhanced design, and usability. Compared to other rowers on the market, it looks more sophisticated. It provides a better workout experience for people at any level of fitness.

Have you ever heard about John Duke? He’s a professional rower being in the national team of the United States during the 80s. He invents the water rower. Duke wanted to create a machine that gives back realistic rowing as much as possible. That is how the WaterFlywheel was born that provides excellent resistance and the sound of the splashing water as if you were in a boat. The beautiful wooden frame is just the icing on the cake.

And, without a doubt, his plan was successful since we can hardly find similar fitness equipment to this water rowing machine. The USA based WaterRowing company was established in 1988 and uses the highest-quality materials.

What’s the downside? The price since WaterRower costs over $1000. But, for the fantastic performance, beautiful look and functionality, we have to pay.

PROS

  • High maximum user weight (1000 lb)
  • Suitable for any level of fitness
  • Smooth and effective rowing
  • Sound of the water
  • Easy to store & easy to use

CONS

  • Small and minimal monitor
  • Not adjustable footrests
  • Large but transport wheels are added
  • Heart rate monitor (chest strap) isn’t included
  • Maintenance is required

The Construction

An interesting fact is that the frame of the WaterRower is made from carefully harvested wood from the Appalachian forests. We can choose from 3 colors Oak, Cherry, and Ash wood frame. Hence, this rower fits much better into a living room compared to typical rowing machines made of steel. Actually, the look is so beautiful that it’s more a piece of furniture than a full body workout machine.

The wood construction seems to be weaker than steel, but the durability is almost the same. What’s the proof? The 1000 lb maximum user weight capacity that the manufacturer provides. It’s hard to find another rower on the market with such a high capacity.

The sliding system and the frame is quiet under usage since the ash wood absorbs the vibration. It doesn’t creak even under heavy users. Moreover, WaterRower has a strap instead of a chain, which also makes it calm. What you only hear is the sound of the water in the tank giving a sense as if you were rowing in nature.


The feeling of the rowing

rowing experience

Rowing machines come with different types of rowing resistance, such as air, magnetic, water, and hydraulic. The model affects the sense of the rowing motion and how intensive training we can get.

We can easily adjust the magnetic rowing machines, but the feel of pulling is far from the real. The air rower gives a better rowing experience, but hard to change the resistance unless the machine features a particular setting.


About The Water Flywheel

The water resistance type is much different from all of the above.

The air is 784 times less dense than water. So, compared to air rowers, the resistance is much higher. The WaterRower features a uniquely shaped paddle to cup the shifting water and decrease slippage. Thanks to this system, at the beginning of the rowing motion, also called a catch, we immediately feel the resistance. It drops in the middle of a stroke when the water is lifted and splashes toward. But it starts increasing again as the amount of water goes toward.

The faster the rowing stroke, the harder the pulling will be. That is useful for advanced athletes since they can have intensive training (the handle gives a great grip for that).

But what if someone wants to row fast but don’t have the power yet such as beginners?

Just set the water level to generate optimal resistance for your needs and fitness goals. This way, there’s going to be less load on the hydro blades getting a low impact workout.


The Sliding System

WaterRower natural rowing machine has dual rails with four corner wheels. That feature provides a more stable seat and smoother sliding compared to single rail rowers. The seat is thickly padded and ergonomically molded for the buttocks. So, you don’t feel the pain during long rowing workouts.

The footplate comes with plastic foot holders and straps. They fix the feet to avoid slipping and moving so you can focus on the rowing. However, the holders are slightly firm, so they are only comfortable if we are in shoes, barefoot training isn’t possible without discomfort. Also, the feet placement isn’t adjustable, so taller users may find them too close to each other and have knee pain.


Size and Storage

The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is quite a bulky exercise equipment with dimensions of 84 by 21 by 22 inches (W x H x D). The rower also weighs 117 pounds if the water basin is filled. So, having a dedicated workout space for it isn’t a bad idea.

However, we can flip it upright for storage. The tank is at the bottom when it stands upright, giving better stability. Hence, you can store it in the corner of a room. But, vertical storage is over 7ft, so check out if you have enough space from the ceiling.


The S4 LCD Monitor

s4 monitor

The WaterRower S4 performance monitor is situated on the right side of the machine a bit above the water tank. The computer shows the following information about the workout:

  • Time
  • Intensity
  • Distance
  • Stroke rate
  • Calories burned
  • Heart rate zone (with an optional heart rate chest strap and receiver)

Nothing special just the fundamental info that is required to track the training sessions and keep us motivated.

The problem with the WaterRower S4 monitor is that the LCD display is rather small, and the unit is far from the user. Hence, people complain about not seeing the details while they exercise.


Waterrower natural rowing machine problems

If the machine is under heavy usage every day and for years, people experience a bit of leaking from the water tank. Mainly professional athletes and gym owners complain about this problem. People using at home don’t experience it. Of course, we can get another tank from the manufacturer, but that means extra cost if the warranty is over.

For professionals and commercial gym owners, Concept2 is a more durable rowing machine. However, WaterRower is a safe choice for a home gym.

Another common issue is the feet holders, as I mentioned before. It’s made of durable plastic, and if people want to exercise barefoot, they hurt their heel. We can adjust them vertically to find a more comfortable feet position. However, we can’t fix them horizontally. This way, taller people may feel them too close to each other.

The WaterRower storage is easy, we just need to stand it up. But, for safety purposes, it’s recommended to fix it to the wall with a hook or something else.


FAQ

WaterRower Club, Natural and Classic – What’s the difference between the models?

They are the same in size, construction, rowing system, and storage. The only difference is the color. The Club comes with a black and rose stain and a large logo on the side. Natural has a honey oak stain. Classic is made of black walnut wood, so it’s darker.

Is the water rower assembly complicated?

WaterRower comes with an easy to follow manual, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most of us. There aren’t many negative customer reviews about it. However, you must be careful during the assembly to avoid malfunction. You can ask for expert support for an extra cost or get a guide from the customer service, though.

Alternatives?

If you are on a budget, it’s worth checking out the MaxKare Indoor Water Rower. This product is less than 500 bucks and has many positive reviews.

PRODUCT DETAILS Price 
Runner-up MaxKare Water Rowing Machine
  • User weight: 260 lb
  • Frame: steel
  • Ergonomic design and seat
  • Upright storage, transportation wheels

Summary

To sum up, if you are looking for a professional and attractive home rowing machine with smooth operation, the WaterRower is worth considering. No matter which rower you choose the Club, Natural, or the Classic, you can have a perfect rowing workout at home to target all the muscle groups.


Sources

  1. Morgan C. YouTube. YouTube. 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZL-MSsvobc
  2. Waterrower.com. https://www.waterrower.com/. Published 2018.
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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.

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