We picked the brains of rowing coaches, fitness experts, and physical therapists to learn what features make for an exceptional rower. Based on their input, we searched the market for air and water resistance rowing machines, then tested the best for ride feel and design. We found one model of each type — air resistance and water resistance — that felt truly superior to the others.

The Waterrower has recently been made famous by Kevin Spacy as the rowing machine used in the ‘House of Cards’. It is a type of wooden rowing machine produced and manufactured by Waterrower Inc. in New England, USA. The rowers were designed by ex-US national team rower john Duke in the mid 1980’s and the company to manufacture them was established in 1988.
THL: Stay a safe distance from vertical surfaces if there are significant waves present in the area. A passing boat or ship may generate big waves that escape your attention until there is no time to escape. An example is the North anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge (but there are special cases, e.g. rough water classes or the OWRC regatta, when there is a fast flood coming through the Golden Gate, and it is useful to be close to the wall since the current is slower there).

Tank: The tank of the WaterRower M1 LoRise is made from polycarbonate, one of the strongest plastics available. It is virtually indestructible. The tank is sealed and can be filled with municipal water via a small opening closed by a stopper. This water typically contains enough chlorine to remain clear for some time. After exposure to light, the chlorine will degrade and the chlorine tablets included free with the WaterRower M1 LoRise should be added periodically.


Rowing machines were first used in Archaic Greece. Chabrias, an Athenian military general in 4th Century B.C., invented wooden rowing simulators for his inexperienced oarsmen. This enabled them to learn technique and timing before stepping foot on actual water crafts. And it must have worked — Chabrias successfully led numerous naval attacks against the Spartans.
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In addition to this, certain crew members have other titles and roles. In an 8+ the stern pair are responsible for setting the stroke rate and rhythm for the rest of the boat to follow. The middle four (sometimes called the "engine room" or "power house") are usually the less technical, but more powerful rowers in the crew, whilst the bow pair are the more technical and generally regarded as the pair to set up the balance of the boat. They also have most influence on the line the boat steers.


If you are anything like me, you read the negative reviews to see what some of the complaints could potentially be...I have found none that match with my machine or experience so far. The boxes it came in were a little bunged-up but everything on the inside was perfect. Only took about 15-20 minutes to build (first time building a row machine) and another 5-10 to fill with water. We used it for a little while before we added the danish oil. 

The WaterRower Classic is hand crafted in solid American Black Walnut. Like all woods, Black Walnut may vary in color from a rich brown to purple-black. Each machine has been hand finished with three coats of Danish Oil giving a deep lustre an warmth to the wood. Wood has been chosen due to its marvellous engineering properties, primary amongst these is its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's quietness and smoothness of use. Black Walnut, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. For reasons of ecology, all our woods are harvested from replenishable forests.
Noise level is another large factor that tips the scale more towards water rowers. Air rowers make a fairly loud “whooshing” noise every stroke, which makes them bad for people who like watching TV, have sleeping children, live in apartments, or like working out early in the AM. Water rowers do make some noise but the splashing of water in the tank is a lot quieter and more soothing than the fan noise produced by air rowers.
WaterRower Dimensions: 83 L x 22 W x 21 H Inches / Weight: 108 Pounds (At Minimum Water Level) / Storage Dimensions: 21 L x 22 W x... 83 H Inches (Easily Store It On End)Built For Home Use & Practically Maintenance Free, Rowing Machine Targets All Major Muscle Groups (84% Of Total Muscle Mass) W/ Excellent Adjustable Resistance Levels / Made W/ Decay Resistant Solid Black Walnut That Displays A Natural Richness & Luster Of GrainBoasts A Patented Water Flywheel That Mimics The Natural Dynamics Of Rowing Yet Suitable For Users W/ Joint Concerns (Chlorine Tablet Is Available Free Of Charge) / Entry Height Is At 12 Inches (At 20 Inches W/ Optional Hi-Rise Adaptor)Comes W/ The S4 Performance Monitor For QuickStart Of Functions And Displays Intensity, Kcalories Per Hour, Strokerate, Heartrate, And More! / Noise/Intrusion Levels: Soothing & Relaxing/MinimalEnjoy A 1 Year Manufacturer's Warranty (Upgradeable To 3-Year Parts While 5-Year Frame Is Free Of Charge W/ Registration) read more
Most people who are new to the sport of rowing have difficulty achieving low strokes rates while trying to obtain their desired intensity – there are many comments such as “it does not feel hard enough?” or “how can I make it harder?” Rowing is about ratio and rhythm and you need to focus on a long stroke length and a powerful drive phase (push with the legs and pull with the arms). Give yourself time to learn this, it can take a few weeks before you start to feel the intensity at low stroke rates.

Water Rower Dimensions: 88" x 22" x 20" / Weight: 74 Lbs (Empty Tank), 111 Lbs (With Water); Maximum User Weight And Height: 700 L...bs & 38" InseamExercise Rower Features Aluminum Makeup With Powder-Coated Aluminum Finish For High DurabilityBoasts Patented Water Flywheel Responsible For Its Natural Rowing Dynamic-Like Actually Driving A Boat With Oars! Other Features: Self-Regulating Resistance Levels-Making It Suitable For Any User, Little Maintenance Required (Tablets Available From Manufacturer Free Of Charge) And Inclusive Of S4 Performance Monitor (Displays Intensity, Kcalories/Hour, Stroke Rate, Heart Rate, And More! Enjoy 1 Year Commercial Warranty (Upgradeable To 3-Year Parts While 5-Year Frames Are Free Of Charge With Registration) read more
While rowing, the athlete sits in the boat facing toward the stern, and uses the oars which are held in place by the oarlocks to propel the boat forward (towards the bow). This may be done on a canal, river, lake, sea, or other large bodies of water. The sport requires strong core balance, physical strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance.[5]
Assembled dimensions: 86L x 24W x 27H inches. Total body fitness - aerobic and resistance exercise. Folds and rolls for easy stora...ge. Easy-to-use monitor keeps you on track. Brushed stainless steel frame, some assembly required. Assembled weight: 200 lbs.. Manufacturer's warranty included (see product guarantee). Fabricated tubular steel frame with brushed finish - great for commercial or home useWater tank ensures smooth-gliding motion and is easy to maintainEasy-to-use training monitor tracks stroke rate, intensity, distance, and timeQuick assemble using only a 5mm Allen Key wrench (included)Smooth-gliding seat wheels mounted on durable rails for stable, easy movementHandlebars, seat, and footrest are comfortable and durableWorks 84 percent of muscle mass for maximum resultsCombines aerobic workout and resistance for total body reshapingManufacturer's warranty included: see complete details in the Product Guarantee areaDisclaimer:WaterRower will not provide support or documentation for any product transported outside of the original country of purchase. read more
Fetch is the distance over which the wind interacts with the water surface to creates waves. The longer the fetch the bigger (higher) the waves are. If the shore (green in the diagram) is a hill, there will be a wind shadow which gives protection from the wind, but even if the shore is flat as a pancake and gives no protection, the waves become progressively smaller as you for upwind to the shore. Thus, rowing upwind toward shore is always an escape from waves.
One downside of the Waterrower for me are the footrests. Whilst they are perfectly adequate if you want to row in shoes, rowing barefoot, which is something I like to do, is impossible. The plastic is completely square at the bottom and has sharp edges that cut into your heels. I also found that my shoes get caught when trying to put them in and out of the holders, which is a bit irritating.
The WaterRower Natural is outfitted with a Series 4 performance monitor that's designed to balance technical sophistication with user-friendliness. The monitor--which includes six information and programming windows, six QuickSelection buttons, and three navigation buttons--displays your workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, and distance. Plus, the monitor is compatible with an optional heart rate chest strap and receiver, which helps you optimize your workout and achieve your exercise objectives.

First of all, if you're considering rowing, just do it. It is by far the most enjoyable and beneficial exercise I have ever tried. I've made huge strides with both cardio and muscle fitness with the WaterRower, and it's so enjoyable I look forward to exercising each day. Yes, it is more expensive than most other rowing machines, but when you compare it to a lot of other types of exercise equipment, it's actually pretty reasonable. When you also compare the exercise benefit you get, it's a bargain.
For a third option, you can look to hydraulic machines, which use pistons to generate resistance. Hydraulic rowers are quiet, and they also tend to be smaller and cheaper than other kinds of rowing machines, but you won’t get the same smooth rowing feel, or the consistency of resistance, that you would get with an air or water rower. What's more, reviewer after reviewer has found them unreliable and high-maintenance.
The rowing machine itself is unlike any other on the market with its patented water filled flywheel. It is hard to exactly copy the action of a scull on the water, but the mechanics of the flywheel spinning in water comes in a close second on dry land. The fact that the water is 800 times denser than air means that there is no need for any extra resistance or dampening that you will find in normal air rowers. The faster you pull, the more resistance is generated giving it infinite variability. However, if you want to be able to practice rowing with a faster stroke, you will have to reduce the amount of water in the tank unlike an air rower where you just have to adjust the baffle.
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