Real estate in large US cities has yoyo-d in cost over the last few years thanks to a less-than-energized lending environment. The average square foot in Manhattan now costs $1,612, just $288 less than Hydrow’s 7-foot-long Wave rower, a more compact version of their first-generation rower, which seeks to capitalize on both millennials’ urge to erg and the urge to not trip on fitness machinery in the middle of the night.
I tried Hydrow’s first rower back in 2021 and while I was impressed by its sturdy build and luxurious feel its sheer size, 7’1” long and 4” tall, gave me pause when recommending it to others. The truth is that space is at a premium in most U.S. cities, and justifying blowing 7 feet of floorspace on a machine for repetitive cardio is a steep order even for me, a diehard Peloton fanatic.
The purchase of an at-home rower means two things: one, you have the luxury of excess space you can put towards a fitness machine and two, you actually enjoy rowing as a form of cardio. I can’t help the part of your soul that wants to punish you one pull at a time, but the the Wave is 30% smaller than the Hydrow Rower, which is hugely popular with the fake boating community. Each component that doesn’t need to be large has been trimmed: the screen, body of the machine, handlebars, and seat. The length of the belt, a.k.a the only thing that actually matters on a rower, is the same size with an inseam of 36”.
And it both looks and feels good. The handlebar is smoothly rounded with just enough grip and the belt glides without excessive noise, even at its high resistance levels. The seat is plastic and hard, as it should be, and moves along the belt without bumps or scuffs. This rower also comes in a bunch of zany colors like bright orange and yellow, so you can interrupt the monotonous greige of most exercise equipment.
If someone approached me at my local Gold’s Gym (please don’t) and asked me to pick a favorite form of cardio, I wouldn’t choose rowing. The truth is that rowing in a gym is awful. There are too many distractions and, if an instructor is involved, too much coxswaining. The virtue of a good erg is that you can get on and get sore incredibly quickly. It takes me about 20 minutes to engage and then aggravate my back. That’s fine. I can take a shower after and go about my day. I don’t need to pretend to be one of the Winklevii. My aspirations are elsewhere.
Hydrow classes range in length from short 10-minute bursts to hour-long rows and are filmed in actual bodies of water across the globe. 1-2 instructors row along with you in the Charles River or River Thames, and coach you through strokes per minute (SPM) intervals. All of your data and speed metrics are displayed on the screen so you can track your progress, and music ebbs along in the background. The classes are physically challenging and a great warm-up for strength training, what I primarily use them for, but due to the repetitive motion I find them more serene than a spin class or HIIT session.
Hydrow instructors also aren’t cringey. They are genuine, and energetic without being fake and are impressive Olympic athletes most of the time whose muscles look intimidating even on the 16” screen.
Is The Hydrow Rower Worth the Price?
This answer is entirely dependent on how many times it’s used, as with all luxe gym equipment it should be broken down by cost per use. The price starts at $1,895 and there’s the optional Hydrow Wave Vertical Anchor for an additional $190. If you bang out a solid two workouts per week that lowers the price to just over $18 per class, a.k.a cheaper than almost any boutique workout class. I did not purchase my Hydrow so I can’t give you my exact breakdown, but if I had I’d tell you my cost per use is larger than my Peloton bike but much smaller than my strawberry de-stemmer, relative to the price.
How Easy Is Set Up for the Hydrow Wave?
The Hydrow Wave is extremely easy to set up. I barely had to do anything except plug it in, log in, stick my feet in the little stirrups and let er’ rip.
How Large Is the Hydrow Wave Rower?
The Hydrow Wave measures just under 7 feet long, 19” wide and 43” tall. It’s a rower, so it’s not small per se, but it’s the most compact machine of its kind I’ve used. It requires some room behind for leaning back as you pump through your workout, but it’s doable in a corner or against an unutilized wall.
Can I Store the Hydrow Wave Rower Vertically?
Yes, the Hydrow Wave is made to be stored vertically. The brand recommends purchasing their Vertical Anchor (a product sold separately) so it doesn’t fall and squish loved ones, but I was able to tilt it upright between uses and it felt plenty stable without a wall tether.
Is The Hydrow Rower Fun to Use?
I find exercise very fun, so I enjoyed using it. It’ll get used by someone who either enjoys rowing or is motivated by the guilt of spending $1,900 on a machine that now only seats the cat when they’re mad at the other cat.
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Echelon Smart Rowing Machine
Echelon, a SPY-favorite brand that makes an excellent spin bike and other workout equipment has a smart rower that’s a scaled-down version of the luxury picks above. It has a foldable design for easy storage as well as a device holder that swivels so you can stream classes from your favorite fitness app.