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Editor’s Choice: Hydrow’s Wave Rower Is a Powerful Erg-er for Space-Conscious Millennials

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.

The Hydrow Wave rower’s belt measures 36″ in length, the same as their bigger, bulkier first rower. Anthony Mastracci | SPY
Courtesy of Hydrow


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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.

The Hydrow Wave’s screen, handlebars and foot pedals. Anthony Mastracci | SPY

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Courtesy of Hydrow


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Hydrow’s first rower is larger than the Wave in almost every way including the 22″ touchscreen HD display. It’s built with an electromagnetic drag system that gives you a powerful and silent row, and the aluminum steel frame has a sleek look that doesn’t stick out.

Courtesy of Ergatta


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Ergatta is Hydrow’s biggest competitor in the luxe rowing space for good reason. Their lustrous and industrial machine is made with locally-sourced cherry wood and powers game-based workouts that have earned them a near-cult following.

Courtesy of Amazon
SPY Favorite BRand

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.