According to Fritz Hagerman, Ph.D., a professor in the Biological Science Department at Ohio University, “Competitive rowers expended almost twice the number of calories on a 2,000-meter course as a runner in a 3,000-meter steeplechase.”1 However, since rowing is low impact, you will not experience the same wear and tear on your body that you would if you were a runner. Plus, you build strength in your upper body and core.
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.