Water rowers feature a tank that is actually filled with water as a means for resistance. As you increase the pace of rowing, the resistance naturally increases as well. This means that you can set your own pace and resistance in a single motion. The same is true for air rowers. Air rowers use a fan or flywheel to create resistance, and you have control over the intensity of the workout due to the fact that the air resistance depends on your pace. Most water and air rowers come equipped with -- or at least have as an option -- monitors that track various functions such as distance, strokes, strokes per minute and calories burned.

Rowing machines offer a new type of workout experience for individuals of all fitness levels. If you’re tired of the standard equipment at the gym and simply looking for a machine that allows you to work out from the comfort of your home, then a rowing machine may be right up your alley. Commonly this machine is overlooked at the gym because people don’t know that rowing can work several major muscle groups, burning more calories than a stationary bike or treadmill. The innovative designs of new water resistance rowers have taken on an elegant, yet classic look that can add subtle beauty to any room. Usually outfitted in a walnut or ash frame with all-metal black rails and an easy fold-up design, row machines not only look great, they’re actually pretty fun to use.


Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.
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