Hydrow Review: Rowing Machine Overview & Comparison Guide

Hydrow’s at-home rowing machine offers an immersive workout experience like no other. In this article, we seek to give you an honest review of this premium rower.

 

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Last Updated: September 16th, 2021

Fitness Benefits | Introduction | Sleek Design | Workout Experience | Workout Interface | Cost and Membership | Hydrow vs. Ergatta

People are always looking for the next big thing in the health and fitness world. New diets and supplements hit the market every year, promising the world when it comes to results. Most fall short.

However, exercise equipment is less susceptible to trends and fads. The treadmill is a staple in most gyms and fitness centers — that won’t be changing anytime soon. In fact, in 2020 consumer treadmill sales soared well over $1.5 billion USD.

Ellipticals are also at the top in terms of popularity. But, as the demand for at-home exercise equipment continues to rise, people are looking for equipment alternatives.

The humble rowing machine wants a piece of the pie. What once haunted the corners of fitness centers is now seeing a resurgence in popularity.

Hydrow offers a top-of-the-line rower, complete with live workouts and a sleek design. In short, it has all the “bells and whistles.”

In this article, we seek to provide you with an honest review of this luxury rower, to help you decide if it is worth the hefty price tag. 

Fitness Benefits of a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines may not hold a candle to the treadmill when it comes to consumer sales, but the data suggests its popularity is trending. In fact, rowing machine consumer sales in the U.S. hit just over $135 million in 2020, an increase of $43 million from the year before. 

Rowers combine cardiovascular endurance with strength training for a full-body workout.

Research suggests that rowers stimulate far more muscle activation than other exercise machines, with a split that comprises roughly 25-35% upper body and 65-75% leg work.

It burns loads of calories to boot. For a 155-pound person, 30 minutes of high-intensity rowing can burn up to 369 calories.

More fitness benefits:

  • Rowers are low-impact, putting less stress on the joints compared to other exercise machines
  • Rowing machines can be used by beginners and high-endurance athletes alike
  • Provide flexible options, from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to constant, low-intensity training

A Look at the Hydrow Rower

The Hydrow rower is more than a machine, it is an experience (at least according to its makers). But, they may be right.

Hydrow | Best Rower 2021

$150 off
Hydrow | Best Rower 2021
10/10 Our Score

Hydrow Essentials Package

The Essentials Package ($50 in savings) includes: 

  • Hydrow Rower - $2,295
  • Machine Mat - $90
  • Polar Verity Sense Heart Rate Monitor - $90
  • Free Standard Delivery ($150 value) 
  • 1 Year Home Use Warranty Included
  • Unlimited Profiles with One Membership*
  • Your Hydrow comes with a 30-day risk-free trial. If you don’t love it, we’ll refund your entire order. 

Pay as low as $64/mo. with Klarna.

The Hydrow rower offers an immersive, at-home workout experience. Some called it the Peloton of rowers. It combines intuitive hardware, live exercise classes, and a sleek and quiet design for a premium rowing experience.

What We Like

  • Sleek design, complete with a large touchscreen display
  • The operation is smooth, quiet, and comfortable
  • Immersive experience; live classes with instructors, racing challenges, and more
  • Ergonomic design; wheel system and upright position are great for moving and storage
  • 30-day risk-free trial
Pros
  • Sleek design, complete with a large touchscreen display
  • The operation is smooth, quiet, and comfortable
  • Immersive experience; live classes with instructors, racing challenges, and more
  • Ergonomic design; wheel system and upright position are great for moving and storage
  • 30-day risk-free trial
Cons
  • Hefty price tag — though it may very well merit that 
  • Membership for live workouts and instructors cost extra
  • You can’t play your own music on Bluetooth

What We Don’t Like

  • Hefty price tag — though it may very well merit that 
  • Membership for live workouts and instructors cost extra
  • You can’t play your own music on Bluetooth

The Hydrow Design

Hydrow is built around the experience. The design is the first thing that stands out. It really is a piece of equipment to be admired. Though it lacks the same beauty you’ll find in the cherry wood design of the Ergatta rower, it is still a head-turner.

Since it is made for the home, the Hydrow rower does give off an elegant flair, being both sleek and modern. You will not be embarrassed by its look nor will you feel the need to roll it away when guests arrive.

Its compact aluminum and steel frame with an anthracite polymer body certainly has a premium look to go with the premium price tag, but it is built to last.

The hardware

This machine is heavy. While you may need some help moving the box around the house, once assembled the Hydrow’s front-wheel system makes moving about the house a breeze. The design itself is surprisingly slim at only 86 inches long and 25 inches wide.

The seat cushion is also very comfortable, which is an important part of the equation when it comes to workouts. The 10-roller system makes for smooth operation. The seat itself is roughly 16.5 inches off the floor. A nice low profile, but not low enough to wreak havoc on the knees.

It is made to fit those with a 36” inseam or less and its sturdy design fits a weight limit of 375 lbs.

We also enjoyed the footrests. They were plenty wide enough and seemed to be well-placed (they are adjustable too). The handgrips felt comfortable as well, their ergonomic design was also well-padded. Overall, the rowing position felt natural and comfortable.

If you find yourself short on space, the Hydrow can be tilted to be stored in an upright position. However, the upright position requires an Upright Storage Kit — $69.99.

Hydrow Rower Hardware Specifications:

  • Construction: Steel and aluminum frame with an anthracite polymer body
  • Hydrow dimensions (LWH): 86” x 25” x 47” 
  • Vertical storage dimensions (WDH) 25” x 33” x 86” (requires storage kit)
  • Machine weight: 145 lbs.; 197 lbs. boxed
  • Max user weight: 375 lbs

Hydrow Workout Experience

After fawning over the elegant design of this machine, the next thing that makes it stand out is the workout experience itself. Beauty is one thing, function is another. This machine has both.

Again, Hydrow prides itself on bringing the rowing experience to life. The 22” touchscreen display gives you a workout with a view. Or as Hydrow says, “brings the river to your living room.” The display is 1920 x 1080 full HD. The high-quality speakers are front-facing and add to the virtual experience.

The monitor also adjusts vertically (15 degrees) and pivots 25 degrees to help you find the best viewing angle during workouts. Plus, it folds up flat during storage.

The Hydrow is also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing you to easily connect headphones or heart rate monitors. However, you can’t stream your own music through the speakers, which could be a bummer for some.

All data is conveniently displayed without disrupting the experience. You’ll find data for total meters rowed, average speeds, calories burned, and more. Plus, you will be able to see yourself on the leaderboard during live rows.

Hydrow Rower Technical Specifications

  • Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HD; 22” PCAP touchscreen display.
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0-enabled, Wi-fi-enabled. 
  • Front-facing Speakers: Amplifier x 2 channel; 3W, 8 ohms.
  • Electrical: 120-volt standard outlet; 60Hz

Hydrow Workout Interface

Hydrow allows users to experience live workouts with real instructors and offers users unique workout environments to boot. These scenic destinations are from around the globe.

In a few words, it offers a diverse and dynamic rowing experience all from the comfort of home. We found the interface itself easy to navigate.

It features eight sections: Home, Library, Feed, Progress, Racing, Profile, Settings, and Help.

The Home screen features various training programs, tutorial videos, upcoming live rows, popular rows, and more. If you have the membership, you can experience two live rows a day (except on Sundays and Mondays). Even if you can’t make the live rows, they are still recorded for you to complete on-demand — over 2,000 workouts.

The Library tab is where you’ll find on-demand workouts, locations to row, and workout types. Workout types include self-paced workouts (Drive, Sweat, Breathe), tutorials, warm-ups and cooldowns, and more.

The Journey’s section offers scenic workouts, many of which are unguided. Locations include waterways in Florida, London, Scotland, Vermont, and more. The Racing tab is where you can invite other users to compete in weekly challenges.

The Progress tab lets you view workout history and your personal stats for each session, this includes times, calories burned, average split times, and distance. The Profile and Feed tabs are designed to display your public profile and act as a type of social media within the Hydrow community. Of course, these features can be disabled.

You will find Hydrow 101 videos, machine settings, and display outputs (displays settings, Bluetooth setup, etc.) in the Help and Settings tabs.

Using the Hydrow Rower

The experience of using the Hydrow rower is two-fold: The virtual experience and the drag design. The virtual experience of the workouts is phenomenal. Immersive is the best way to describe it. It is as close as you can get to being in a rowboat without touching the water.

The drag design completes the immersive virtual experience. Drag mechanisms vary by rowers. The Hydrow rower uses an electromagnetic drag mechanism. This allows you to adjust your drag level, from 1 to 300. A lower drag level mimics a full, eight-person rowboat. A higher drag setting makes it feel like you’re all alone on the water — makes for a tough workout.

For the novice rower, it can take some time to adjust. But, the tutorials do offer some helpful advice. Since rowers are made to target both cardiovascular endurance and strength, you can bet on feeling the effects quickly if you’re not used to it. The sweat will not take long, we promise.

What’s nice is the fact that you do not feel the same high-impact stress that comes with treadmills and other exercise equipment. It truly is a low-impact machine. Joint discomfort was never an issue. Plus, this thing is smooth.

Here’s what some other customers are saying about their Hydrow experience:

I have had my Hydro for three weeks. It is fun, interesting and the rowing “leaders” motivate with kind supportive energy! Easy to use and I do not dread working out!

—   Heather, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot

Love Hydrow! The machine itself is gorgeous, and the rowing experience on it is smooth and comfortable. The classes are excellent; the coaches do a great job of talking to you, a person, and not the camera. The whole experience feels very authentic. I’m excited every time I get on it! Worth every penny.

—   Kristen, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot 

Great work out gets you sweating before you know it. Great low impact full body work out and the trainers make it interesting and fun.

—   Richard, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot

Hydrow Cost and Membership

The base cost for the Hydrow rower is $2,245. Although they do offer two other packages: Starter Package ($2,520) and Pro Package ($2,705). Both packages include more accessories, such as a machine mat, heart rate monitor, and wireless headphones. The Pro package adds a workout pat, yoga blocks, a foam roller, and resistance bands.

Rower Only
Hydrow Rower
Hydrow Rower

Pay as low as $63/mo. with Klarna. See if you're prequalified

  • Free Standard Delivery ($150 value) 
  • 1 Year Home Use Warranty Included
  • Unlimited Profiles with One Membership*
  • Your Hydrow comes with a 30-day risk-free trial. Only at Hydrow.com.

Hydrow Rower - $2,245

Hydrow Starter Package
Hydrow Starter Package
Hydrow Starter Package

Pay as low as $70/mo. with Klarna. See if you're prequalified

The Starter Package includes: 

Hydrow Rower - $2,245
Machine Mat - $79.99
Polar Verity Sense Heart Rate Monitor - $89.95
Jaybird Vista Wireless Headphones (black) - $149.99

  • Free Standard Delivery ($150 value)
  • 1 Year Home Use Warranty Included
  • Unlimited Profiles with One Membership*
  • Your Hydrow comes with a 30-day risk-free trial. Only at Hydrow.com.
Hydrow Pro Package
Hydrow Pro Package
Hydrow Pro Package

Pay as low as $76/mo. with Klarna. See if you're prequalified

The Pro Package includes: 

Hydrow Rower - $2,245
Machine Mat - $79.99
Polar Verity Sense Heart Rate Monitor - $89.95
Jaybird Vista Wireless Headphones (black) - $149.99
On the Mat Workout Kit - $169.99
Workout Mat
Yoga Blocks (2)
Multi-Resistance Band Set (7 Bands)
Performance Foam Roller - $39.99

  • Free Standard Delivery ($150 value) 
  • 1 Year Home Use Warranty Included
  • Unlimited Profiles with One Membership*
  • Your Hydrow comes with a 30-day risk-free trial. Only at Hydrow.com.

Purchase includes free shipping and a 1-year home use warranty. It also comes with a 30-day risk-free trial when purchased through their website.

To enjoy all that Hydrow has to offer you must be subscribed to their membership, which costs $38 per month + tax.

Membership includes:

  • Multiple user profiles
  • Access to daily live workouts with Hydrow athletes
  • Access to fitness content (e.g. Pilates, yoga, stretching, and more)
  • Ability to watch content through Hydrow mobile app
  • Access to Hydrow community (live racing challenges)
  • Database for workout history and fitness progress

Hydrow Rower Compared

Hydrow has two main rivals: Ergatta and NordicTrack RW900

Ergatta and Hydrow both get the prize of aesthetics over the RW900. But, the RW900 is much cheaper, at $1,599. It also gets a slight upper hand when it comes to workout libraries, thanks to its partnership with iFit.

The resistance technology is also different in each. For example, the Ergatta uses actual water to create resistance, rather than a drag mechanism. Does it add to the overall experience? Not really. 

The Hydrow offers the most in terms of interface and immersive experience, and over time as the library of workouts expands, we truly think it will reign supreme among at-home rowers. 

Bottom Line

The Hydrow at-home rower, with its built-to-last design and immersive workout experience, has a lot to offer. But, the price coupled with the monthly membership makes it quite an investment.

Is it worth it? We think so.

At the end of the day, the Hydrow rower delivers. It offers a premium, virtual workout experience that is unmatched by other rowers, and for that, we give it two thumbs up.

Source:

• Treadmills wholesale sales in the US 2007-2020 | Statista

The Immersive At-Home Rowing Machine With Streaming Workouts | Hydrow

• Rowing machines US wholesale sales consumer segment 2007-2020 | Statista

Physiological and performance effects of low- versus mixed-intensity rowing training  | Pub Med

Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights | Harvard Health

The Rower | Ergatta

NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine | NordicTrac