Category Archives: Rowing Machines

History of the Rowing Machine

The history of the rowing machine goes back to the 13th century. It’s where the first recorded race boat was found. In its many forms, boat racing was what started the need to train on-shore as well. Different local rivalries around the world had a major influence on rowing machines. Some versions of on-shore rowing training were also localized in the 4th century BC Athens. But the real history of the rowing machine starts in the 1800s.

The first rowing machine patent

In 1872, a patent was issued for the first rowing machine in the US. W.B. Curtis was granted with the patent which included a flywheel and a ratcheting system. At that moment, it was believed to be the first mechanism of its kind. Although the machine was very different to what is used today, it was actually the base for the machines athletes and amateurs use today. The flywheel design is used even today. Although it has vastly improved, especially when it comes to the fluidity of the motions, it is often the first choice for multiple rowing machine manufacturers.

The first commercial rowing machines

It is from the 1900s that the story of rowing machines finally takes huge steps. With multiple boating competitions between colleges, students needed to perform better. This is why the first commercial rowing machines were sold on campuses. The provided the perfect alternative for off-season training.

Gjessing Rowing Ergometer
Gjessing Rowing Ergometer

But there was not much resistance with the first machines. Multiple designs tried to measure the friction or the intensity of the rowing movements to track performance. But the added weights by Gjessing Nilson in the 70s is what brought rowing machines closer that their modern purpose. Using different weights, students were now able to track their rowing performance and work on improving both their strength and their rowing technique. But the design of these rowing machines was not nearly as fine-tuned as today. The movements were not the most fluid and their design was often too complex to easily move the machines from location to location.

The 80s and the mass production

It was in the early 80s that rowing machines truly started to be seen as viable training options. With designs which were getting lighter and lighter, the rowing machines were now in the position in which they could be transported to their final users with ease. It is also the time when air resistance technology came to revolutionize rowing machines forever.

An Australian company launched the first indoor rowing machine which came with adjustable resistance. The combination of flywheel designs with the incorporation of air resistance allowed for the production of the first Concept 2. The rowing machine was thus first produced in the early 80s and went to the popular choice which it is today in most commercial gyms and even at home.

The 90s and the digitalization of rowing machine

The 90s were a revolutionary time for many types of fitness equipment. Rowing machines were part of the digital revolution which saw the early stages of digital performance tracking used on rowing machines. Some pneumatic solutions were also produced in this period but they did not manage to become fully popular, especially among home users as they were still not very affordable. Such pressurized systems were produced by companies in Rhode Island but they were still quite far from the actual rowing experience out on the water.

The current state of rowing machines

Rowing machines were never as reliable and as capable as they are today. Many of them come with foldable designs which recommend them for home use. With fully digitizes experiences, they can offer support for multiple users and they represent one of the most successful solutions for weight loss.

The low impact of rowing machines on the joints recommends this full-body workout for those who want to stay in shape, not only for actual rowers. This saw the machines quickly evolving into what they are now. This involves integration with modern technologies and smartphones. Today’s rowing machines come with different resistance levels and they are truly made for the ultimate connectivity. If you train with a modern rowing machine, you have the ability to transfer, archive and track your workout results. This proves useful from different perspectives, especially when you are training for an objective, such as better cardiovascular endurance.

Air resistance and magnetic resistance are popular systems used on modern rowing machines. But water rowing machines are also available. Even if they are more expensive, they are the types of machines which allow you the closest experience to water rowing. They are often paired with wooden frames to offer a premium training experience.

The future of rowing machines

Many people believe there is no more space for innovation when it comes to rowing machines. But this is hardly the case, as the history of the rowing machines already showed, changes are often fast. One of the areas which are expected to have an important impact on training comes with full body controllers or wearable technologies. These technologies were usually expensive for the casual user, but they are now getting more affordable. Solutions such as the HoloSuit can now be purchased by the home user as well. This means that you can track your rowing biomechanics and save it on your smartphone. You can also send it to a coach or personal trainer which can be useful for growers who need professional guidance. These types of body trackers can also be used to improve your positioning, pace or overall rowing technique.

The history of the rowing machine is deeply rooted in boats and competitions. But they are now a fully-matured solution for cardiovascular training, strength training, weight loss, circuit training, etc. They offer multiple resistance mechanisms such as the controllable magnetic resistance and they are also smoother for movements. Being closer to actual rowing and helping users with the help of integrated tracking technologies, rowing machines are now also widely used in commercial spaces such as gyms or even at home due to increased affordability.

Thanks to Danny Earle for this article –

Dynamic R1 Pro Rower Review

If you are looking for a rower with very strong resistance for your home gym application, then the Dynamic R1 Pro Rower will be of great help to you. There are so many rowers in the fitness industry that one may be confused on which one to try on. Some use water, air, magnet or hydraulic for creating the resistance. In this case, the Dynamic Fitness R1 pro Rower has been designed with a dual resistance system of both air and magnet. This means that you will experience a quieter rowing experience and multiple resistance levels from the electromagnet resistance, and a water-like resistance type from the air resistance.

This rower is of great value for both beginners and experts rowers who are seeking a full body workout. The muscles involved include the legs, shoulder, biceps, triceps, and abdominal muscles, flexor muscles of the fingers, gluteal muscles and the calves.


The Dynamic Fitness R1 Pro rower has been built and designed with quality. The seat is made of aluminum to support every size and minimize breakages or falling apart. The handle is attached to a nylon strap while the foot pedals and foot straps are also constructed from a durable material.

The rower is 97” longer, 17.7” wider and 42.6” high and weighs at 83 pounds. The seat is lifted 19.5” off the ground.


Dynamic R1 Pro rower is a multi-level resistance system with combination of both air and magnetic resistance. The air resistance system works by pulling the handle and spinning a fan flywheel. Resistance is created when more air is brought into the flywheel causing the spin to be faster. Generally, the faster you row the machine, the more resistance you get. Like the air resistance system, the magnetic resistance works by pulling the handle and spinning the wheel. A magnet is located inside the flywheel that either moves closer or farther away from the flywheel and thereby creating resistance. It does not produce a noise effect like other resistance types. Moreover, the resistance remains constant independent of the rowing speed. There are 16 levels of magnetic resistance that can be adjusted using the multi-control monitor.

Combination of these two resistance systems results in a smooth and strong rowing stroke. Although the air resistance can be a bit noisy, the magnetic resistance is quieter and sets in to reduce on the noise levels as opposed to an ‘air only’ rower. The combined resistance is reasonable in rowing as the user can feel the high-end power of the air and the low-end power of the magnetic.

Assembly and storage

Dynamic R1 Pro RowerDynamic R1 Pro rower is easy to store and assemble. Assembling takes less than an hour but can be a challenge if you have not read through the directions carefully.

When not in use, you can fold your machine and store it to minimize on the space. Folding involves pulling the lock pin, folding the seat rail up and allowing the pin to lock in space. This costs you less than 10 seconds. Folded dimensions are 54” by 18” by 63”

The built-in caster wheels facilitate the mobility and portability of the rower as you move it around for storage.

Multi-control monitor

The monitor is quite user friendly and enables you to monitor and track your workout on every row. The display shows the time, split time, strokes per minute (SPM), distance covered in meters, calories burned, pace, watts, pulse and the resistance level. These data are controlled by 6 buttons identified as: start/stop, up, down, recovery, reset and enter.

The monitor has an adjustable arm to enable you position it in a convenient angle that will make it easier for you to read. It is backlit, and therefore lets you read through the display even when it is dark. The menu lets you effectively manage various features such as presetting workouts, games or language settings.

Some of the monitor’s training options include;

  • Manual mode, that lets you set your own target and achieve it. You can select on distance, calories or time and row till you achieve the target.
  • The race mode lets you compete against the computer basing on distance and split time.
  • User mode, that lets you choose up to 5 different user programs to be stored on the monitor.
  • HRC mode is for selecting a target heart rate to maintain throughout the workout.
  • Profile mode lets you choose up to 12 different profiles based on fitness metrics.
  • Watts mode is for selecting a desired watt level to apply during exercise levels.

Rower capacity

The Dynamic R1 Pro rower weighs at 83 pounds with a capacity of 300lbs. It can actually accommodate anyone with up to 350lbs but much more than that can overburden the machine and probably malfunction. Moreover, both short and as tall as 6.6” people can comfortably fit in this rower and still have some space remaining.

Comfort when rowing

Dynamic R1 Pro RowerThe design of the Dynamic R1 Pro rower ensured that the seat is large enough and it glides on the lightweight aluminum rail. It is very soft, hence minimizes on any pressure to reduce back pain. The seat is 19.5” off the ground to enable people with joint problems to get on or off the rower with ease.

The handle is soft for a comfortable grip with natural hand position all through the workout session. The nylon strap attached to it eliminates any noise resulting from rowing.

The adjustable foot pedals are large enough to accommodate foot widths and shoe sizes.


  • Anyone who is used to air resistance rowers will find this rower less noisy.
  • The foot pedals are adjustable and can accommodate any shoe size.
  • Easy to set up and assemble
  • Strong resistance from both resistance systems
  • Multi-function monitor
  • Foldable for convenient storage
  • Has a maximum capacity of up to 380lbs.


  • Although the magnetic resistance system is not noisy, the air resistance system is. Therefore, this rower will produce some noise due to the combination of the two.
  • The monitor has to be powered by an electrical outlet so as to power the magnetic resistance. This means that the rower may be of little value in case the monitor breaks.

Thanks to Daniel for this review. You can find him at The Fitness Crab in Toronto.

Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

Amazing value for a magnetic resistance rowing machine at just over $200.

Sunny Health and Fitness are very good at producing good pieces of gym equipment at very reasonable prices. The Magnetic Rowing Machine with Adjustable Resistance by Sunny Health & Fitness – SF-RW5515 is no exception to this trend. If fact, the price is so low, it’s almost silly!

So what about the machine? The assembly is very straightforward and simple and only takes about 20 minutes.

Unlike air baffle rowers such as the Concept 2, the action is extremely quiet making it very suitable for a living room. The only thing that you can really hear is the seat rolling backwards and forwards on the runners and perhaps the occasional grunt of effort by the user!

The performance is similar to many of the other magnetic resistance rowers on the market. There is a knob just underneath the monitor which adjusts the load that can be set to a high enough level to challenge the strongest of men.

Sunny Fitness Magnetic Rower SeatThe seat is fairly comfortable although I prefer to user a rowing machine seat pad. The foot rests are big enough but it is not possible to adjust the position of the straps relative to the feet. I could imagine this being a problem if you have really small feet. I don’t (size 13!!)

In terms of storage, this machine folds away to quite a compact size and can be folded with minimum effort. It’s not as beautiful at the Waterrower which looks like a piece of furniture when put away against a wall, but then it does cost six times as much!

The monitor is not fantastic. It tracks strokes, time, and calories. However, with a good heart rate monitor and a notebook, it is quite easy to measure your improvements. My advice is to set a stroke rate of around 21-25 spm and the resistance to whatever you can sustain for the time period you are training. Keep these settings for ten training sessions and make a note of your average heart rate at the end of each session. If it starts dropping, you are getting the training right. If you are looking for a machine with a fantastic competition level computer, then you need to upgrade to a Concept 2 but this will set you back around $1000.

All in all, the Sunny Health and Fitness rowing machine is terrific value for money and will give you as good a workout as with any other magnetic resistance rower.

It’s currently priced at $205 on Amazon.


Compare other rowing machines here.


Why Indoor Rowing Is Much More Than Just Cardio

The term “cardio” is loosely used to define several activities. It is important to note some cardiovascular activities hold greater weight than others despite being under the same umbrella. Indoor rowing would be one of these activities.

It is one of the more robust activities a person can use to lose weight and get stronger. Let’s take a look at why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio for those creating a meaningful workout program.

What Is Indoor Rowing?

Before looking into dissecting indoor rowing for its benefits, let’s assess what it encompasses.

Indoor rowing is completed with an indoor rowing machine or “indoor rower.” The premise of this machine is to recreate the rowing motion indoors.

An ergometer is attached to the machine to determine how much force is being expended and the artificial distance being covered. This helps shape one’s workout and progress towards established goals. Many gyms and home gyms are now filled with these machines because of how useful they are in losing weight and getting healthier.

Comparable Types Of Cardio

What are some of the comparable types of cardiovascular activities and machines one can use?

Treadmills are not as effective as indoor rowing1) Bicycle
2) Treadmill
3) Stepper

These are the three key cardio machines a person will get to see when heading to a local gym or when buying equipment for a home gym.

These pieces of equipment are fantastic, but it’s important to understand rowing machines are better. The amount of wasted force with these machines is greater than that which an indoor rowing machine will require. With wasted force comes lost potential.

Studies have shown an indoor rowing machine is far greater in getting a whole body workout.

Benefits Of Indoor Rowing

Let’s begin with the advantages of indoor rowing for those who are looking to come to grips about this activity and why it holds merit in the world of cardio. Many people feel this is the ultimate solution and far better than other activities due to these underlying advantages.

1) Whole Body Workout

Indoor Rowing Workout Rocks!
Workout Rocks!

The first benefit comes from usage. A general cardiovascular activity will get the blood pumping and heart racing. This is wonderful, but it’s not ideal when it comes to time expended. With an indoor rowing machine, it’s possible to get the whole body working out at the same time.

The movement requires force and this means the body from head to toe has to be utilized.

With indoor rowing, the body will be put under the pump, and this will extract real value from each minute spent on the machine.

2) Maximizes Muscle Retention

The one thing a lot of cardiovascular workouts tend to hamper involves muscle retention. This is the idea of losing muscle over a period of time. Instead of letting this happen, it’s better to go with a machine designed to retain muscle in the long-term.

The maximization of muscle is one of the key selling points of the indoor rowing machine.

It gets the heart racing, but it also makes sure the body is working in a manner where the muscles don’t start to lessen in mass.

3) Builds Mind-Muscle Connection

The machine does an excellent job of building an in-depth mind-muscle connection. This lets you understand your body better and get more value out of the session.

This is why many prefer indoor rowing over other activities.

It challenges the body to maintain good posture and continue the movement in a safe manner. If a person ignores this, they don’t optimize the movement. It’s a unique activity and one with a lot of value.

4) Reduces Pressure On Joints

The final benefit comes in the form of reduced pressure on the joints. There is no reason to go with a machine such as a treadmill, which can ruin one’s knees from the constant pounding. The low-impact nature of indoor rowing makes it beneficial.

These are the reasons why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio and continues to be a prime option for those wanting high-grade results in this day and age. Working out isn’t about getting up, but also making sure things are doing with a high level of care where quality results are possible.

Best Rowing Machine Training Tips

Rowing for Men

Man with OarMuscle formation and stamina increases with rowing – perfect for men!

Conventional fitness equipment primarily focuses on either the individual parts of the body or specific muscle groups; however, this is not the case with rowing. Rowing is a total body workout, where both cardio and strength are equally trained. Strong resistance at regular short periods will help grow your muscles. Especially the back, arm and leg muscles and the stamina are trained with the help of Rowing. However, training for longer periods improves endurance helping protect you from many diseases that often occur in untrained people of the same age.

Rowing for Women

Rowing workouts tone the individual body parts and burns calories – perfect for every women.

Rowing, not only offers an optimal training for men, but slowly more and more women are also discovering the benefits of rowing for workouts for both muscle strength and aerobic fitness. In contrast to a treadmill or cross-trainer, the rowing machine stresses the whole body. In particular, legs, arms, shoulders, stomach, and the back are functionally trained. Such a strengthening full body workout boosts post training calorie consumption and therefore helps reduce weight.

Motivational Tips

Lose weight & get fit!

Continue reading Best Rowing Machine Training Tips

Why is a Rowing Machine the Best Training You Can Do?

A Workout using a Rowing Machine is versatile and extremely important for the body. Rowing offers an optimal total body workout. No matter you are old or young, male or female, trained or untrained; every individual who wishes to be athletic fit is in good hands with a rowing machine. Discover here the benefits of rowing and the important tips and tricks to be kept in mind for the right training!

 Why is rowing so important?

Rowing offers an optimal total body workout. Indoor rowing is pretty popular and is not only just meant for the top athletes. No matter you are old or young, male or female, trained or untrained; everyone who wishes to be athletic fit is in good hands with a rowing machine.

Discover the positive effects that come along with rowing and why you should also consider investing in a rowing machine! Continue reading Why is a Rowing Machine the Best Training You Can Do?