The water flywheel is comprised of two paddles encased in an enclosed tank of water. As you pull the cable, the paddles move through the water creating resistance. The beauty of this machine is it uses the mass/density of water. The paddles create the drag, so the harder you pull, the more resistance increases. Think about moving your hands through water. The faster you go, the more dense water feels. The slower you go, the less you feel the resistance. And this type of resistance is excellent for your joints. Click here to read the full review.
As previously discussed, the rowing machine’s big advantage is that it provides more than just a cardio workout. It can definitely help you build muscle and lose weight. Compared to a treadmill, the rowing machine works most of your body. It will really hit your shoulders, core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, arms and back effectively while being low impact thus reducing the stress on your joints. Bigger muscles need more energy and will burn fat to get it, which of course leads to healthy weight loss.
There is much to love about the WaterRower--and I do love it--but I would echo others' comments that although the seat rolls solidly and smoothly on the wood rails, the seat itself is very hard (I use a gel seat pad I bought for my hard fiberglass kayak seat), and the footpads are in need up rethinking and upgrading--the cheap plastic doesn't let you row in socks or barefoot and is not really worthy of a machine that is otherwise a stunning piece of engineering and a beautiful one as well. As one other person noted about his machine, my machine made a clicking noise on the return stroke, so I had to adjust the wheel underneath the top rail that connects to the footpad and pull it away gently from where it was rubbing against another component. Also, be warned: the instruction booklet is in the DVD case. I did not see the little sticker on the case telling me that, thinking I'd wait to watch the DVD until after I'd assembled it. But WaterRower has a copy of the assembly instructions on their website, along with a video (I found the written ones better and easier to follow), so I was able to assemble it with no difficulty.
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.
This type of calorie burn is better than what you would get from cycling or running, and it’s much gentler on the body. You can also position your hands differently in order to work new muscle groups in your lower and upper arms. Many people will be surprised to learn that rowing works the legs more than any other muscle group, but by switching up your rowing position, you can also focus on your abs, arms and shoulders for a total upper body workout that can provide impressive results just by working out a few times a week.
The most commonly damaged piece of rowing equipment is the skeg, which is a metal or plastic fin that comes out of the bottom of the boat to help maintain stability, and to assist in steering. Since the skeg sticks out below the hull of the boat it is the most vulnerable to damage, however it is relatively easy to replace skegs by gluing a new one on. Hull damage is also a significant concern both for maintaining equipment, and for rower safety. Hull damage can be caused by submerged logs, poor strapping to trailers, and collisions with other boats, docks, rocks, etc.

Another negative point for me is the angle of the seat. Unlike the Concept2, it has a slight backward angle, which makes it easier to maintain good form at the end of the stroke. Given that the Waterrower has greater resistance at the catch, it puts more pressure on the lower back at this point making it uncomfortable for people like myself with lumbar spine problems.
The machine was easy to put together and worked well mechanically. The problem is the electronic monitor. The strokes/min registered as double the actual pace, and the distance registered as 1/10th the actual distance. I contacted customer support via email and their response was slow and inadequate. I am returning the machine and plan to buy a WaterRower.
Our Wooden Rowing Machines are Made in the USA using hardwood from only replenishable sources. We strive to manufacture rowing machines that are of a stylish design and built to last, while maintaining our commitment to eco-friendliness. Our Rowing Machines are functional fitness furniture, designed not to be hidden away like other unsightly gym equipment, but to look at home in your living room. Storing in an upright position no wider than a dining room chair, our rowing machines can be easily laid out for a quick indoor rowing exercise session. 
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