I Tried the Hydrow Rower for 90 Days, and Used It Way More Than I Thought I Would

Hydrow rower review
Courtesy of Hydrow
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Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to boost energy levels, improve your resting blood pressure and heart rate, increase blood flow and even decrease the chances of erectile dysfunction? No kidding. Cardio minutes are an important part of any well-rounded training session, and there are thankfully many different ways to get them in. Running on a treadmill, cycling on a spin bike or  kickboxing — just to name a few.

Another great way to get your heart rate up is rowing. The best indoor rowing machines give you close to a full-body workout via a belt, handle and set of footstraps, and the slim design gives you options for home storage. Using a rowing machine properly involves your legs, arms and core — many muscle groups that are important to target in strength work as well. This is why rowing, whether on the water or on a smart home gym machine, has quickly become a popular addition to fitness routines across the country.

Hydrow is one of the latest rowing brands to turn smart, with the release of their smart rower. I got a chance to try one later last year, and used it for three months straight before deciding that it’s a machine I’ll want in my home gym forever. It’s fun to use, well-designed, gives you an efficient and effective workout and doesn’t take up too much space.

The Hydrow is also currently on sale for $300 off its original price, and they’re offering free standard delivery for a total of $450 of savings. 

You can find my full review below, but if you’d rather skip to my verdict I’ll tell you this: if you’re willing to pay top dollar for a piece of gym equipment, and you love to row, the Hydrow is a great choice.

  
Hydrow rower review Courtesy of Hydrow

Hydrow Rower

$1,995.00

Hydrow Rower

$3,108.38

Hydrow Rower: The Specs

The Hydrow Rower is about the same size as the typical rowing machine you use at your local gym. It’s 86 inches long, fits up to a 36 inch inseam and can hold up to 375 pounds. It has a large HD touchscreen that streams in their library of rowing classes, and the dynamic monitor can be adjusted 15 degrees up and down and 25 degrees left and right, as well as folded up for storage.

The 10-roller seat is designed ergonomically for super smooth operation, and the food bed can be adjusted to hold your shoes snuggly as you row. There’s a drag mechanism for creating authentic, fluid-like resistance as you workout, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity so you can easily stream audio through your favorite pair of headphones.

The Hydrow library of classes comes with 3,000+ rowing, yoga and strength classes of varying lengths and difficulty levels.

  

Hydrow rower review Photo Courtesy of the Author

Hydrow Rower: The Setup

It took two people to carry into my apartment and only one person to set up. The whole thing came together in about 15-20 minutes, with the only technical step being attaching the monitor to the body of the rower. It has a relatively slim body, the heaviest part being at the front where the screen is supported. It takes up more floor space than a spin bike or yoga mat does, but it not unnecessarily bulky or larger than it needs to be. The seat arrived attached, as well as the footbed and handle, so once the screen was on and the machine was plugged in, it was ready to use.

  

Hydrow Rower: Using the Machine

It’s very easy to begin using the Hydrow machine, and while it takes some time (and muscle!) to master your form, they guide you through the process every step of the way. You sit on the seat that’s attached to a moving belt, so getting on and off does require stability, but once you strap in your shoes and grab the handle of the rower you’re good to go.

Selecting a class is very easy on the large HD touchscreen, and the audio comes through very clearly through headphones or through the built-in speakers.

The class screen is very elaborate and filled with useful information including the time elapsed, strokes per minute, pace, meters traveled and calories burned. There’s also a running leaderboard on the right side of the screen where you can see how your pace stacks up against other Hydrow rowers, much like the one Peloton uses on their bike and treadmill.

  

Hydrow rower Courtesy of Hydrow

Hydrow Rower: The Review

I will be judging the Hydrow Rower based on the following criteria, giving each a score out of five:

  • Design of Machine
  • User Friendliness
  • Instructors + Variety of Classes
  • Health Routine Factor
  • Price

Overall, I wanted to see how practical it was for the home of the average fitness enthusiast, how easy it was the use and how likely it is that you’ll use it often after purchase. With a large, high ticket piece of gym equipment the question in most people’s minds is — “But will I use this?” My answer for the Hydrow is it depends. Continue reading to find out why.

  

Design of Machine: 5/5

This rower is designed beautifully. The angles are polished, the seat and handle work seamlessly, the HD monitor is large without adding too much bulk, and the length of the belt will work for most people. Pay special attention to the length of the inseam if you’re very tall, but otherwise this rower will work for you.

It’s stable, doesn’t make a lot of noise during use and was very easy to set up. Most rowers are straightforward and less intimidating when it comes to their use than other fitness machines, but still, Hydrow knocked it out of the park.

  

Hydrow rower review Courtesy of Hydrow

User Friendliness: 5/5

This machine is very easy to use as a beginner. Aside from a few strokes here and there at gyms over the years, I’ve never rowed in any official capacity. I knew to sit down, grab the handle and push off with my legs, but otherwise I was a newbie with Hydrow. The machine’s design makes the movement feel very intuitive, and they’ve got an excellent introductory course of classes for beginners in their streaming library. I took all four session, and definitely felt like I had the hang of it at the end.

  

Hydrow screen, Hydrow rower review Image Courtesy of the Author

Instructors + Variety of Classes: 4/5

I’ve tried many fitness platforms from Peloton to Equinox+, Fight Camp, iFit and MIRROR. The instructors that work for Hydrow are qualified, friendly and lead you through their workouts with poise and enthusiasm.  The instructors are professional rowers, Olympic medalists, frequent competitors and globally-renowned athletes. You can take classes of a variety of lengths, difficulties and styles that include scenic rows down famous waterways in London, Boston, the Netherlands and more.

I will say that no matter what format the class takes it’s rowing, so the actual content of different training sessions doesn’t always feel all that different. However, since much of the benefit from rowing as a cardiovascular exercise comes from endurance, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing health-wise, it just might get a little boring after a while.

  

Health Routine Factor: 3.5/5

By “Health Routine Factor” I really mean — how realistic is it that this machine will become a regular part of your health and fitness routine? If you’re not a person who loves rowing or already does it a bunch, my guess is it’s not very likely. The movement is repetitive, and you don’t really move to the rhythm of music like you can in other workouts like spinning and HIIT cardio.

However, if you already use a rower at the gym and want to splurge on a high-end one for home, this is the one to buy. It’s well-built and the classes are very engaging. I have a lot of different equipment in my apartment including a spin bike, full weight lifting gym, a punching bag and a fitness mirror. I found myself using this rower much more than I thought I would, but not as often as other equipment.

  

Price: 3.5/5

The Hydrow Rower is not cheap. It usually costs upwards of $2,300, but is currently on sale for $300 off. This is still a very expensive machine, largely because of the HD touchscreen and addition of guided classes you can follow along with.

There’s also an additional $38 monthly charge for the all-access membership that allows you to stream those guided classes anytime you want, an additional expense that’s justified given the variety of content they offer but added on top of the ticket price of the machine nonetheless.

  

Hydrow Rower: My Verdict

If you love to row, the Hydrow is a worthwhile investment. If you’ve used rowers at gyms before and enjoyed the low-impact movement they provide, there’s a lot to be gained from a rower that comes with guided classes, since the repetitive movement can be boring after a while.

I was a frequent user of rowers without a ton of enthusiasm behind it, but consistency nonetheless. After getting the Hydrow, I frequently use it to warm up for my strength workouts, or to get a little bit of cardio in on the days when I’m taking a break from cycling, kickboxing or running outdoors.

If you’re not totally sold on rowing as a cardio workout, the price is probably too steep to justify a purchase. I’d recommend using a rowing machine more than once and potentially rowing along with one of Hydrow’s workouts on their mobile app before purchasing the rower itself.

If you don’t like rowing and prefer other cardio machines, I wouldn’t recommend Hydrow.

Hydrow Rower

Hydrow rowing machine, Oprah's favorite things 2021 Courtesy of Amazon

Hydrow Rower

$1,995.00

Hydrow Rower

$3,108.38