I’ve tested almost every rower you’ll find in a list of the best rowing machines (albeit before I began writing for Coach). Eight brands in total including the original Hydrow, Hydrow Row, Ergatta, WaterRower and Echelon Row. But in spite of the spate of Black Friday rowing machine deals on the usual suspects (Hydrow, Ergatta, Echelon, NordicTrack), I would still point most people in a different direction: the Concept2 RowErg.
The Concept2 RowErg is almost never discounted so if you’re shopping for a rowing machine during the Cyber Monday sales you’re unlikely to have it suggested to you.
You may well have come across it in real life, though. Have you ever used a rowing machine in a gym? Chances are it was a Concept2. I have friends who row competitively and what do they train on? The Concept2. As a CrossFitter, every box I’ve ever trained in has a bunch of rowers lining one wall. Their maker? You guessed it: Concept2.
It’s the industry gold standard, which is why, despite my experience with most machines on the market, I only had eyes for one rower when I set out to buy one a few years ago.
The Concept2 RowErg is the gold-standard rowing machine, trusted by gyms, CrossFit boxes and rowing clubs across the world. It’s incredibly robust, and the air resistance offers a feel that mirrors rowing on water. It’s rarely on sale, but at less than $1,000 brand new, it’s cheaper than many of its rivals, even when the competition’s discounted.
Why Should You Buy A Concept2 RowErg?
I’ve owned a Concept2 RowErg for two years and use it at least once a week. In all that time I’ve never once regretted my purchase.
The machine is robust and reliable, and it’s long enough to comfortably accommodate lanky users (I’m 6ft 2in on a good day). It can be dismantled into two halves to make it a little bit easier to store. I pulled it out of the corner where it currently lives to photograph it for this article and, once laid out in front of me, it took me all of 40 seconds to assemble.
The PM5 monitor, though monochrome, is surprisingly detailed, offering plenty of customizable workout options and all the performance data you need.
If you think you’ll miss the connected experience offered by Hydrow, Peloton or Ergatta, you’ll be pleased to know one of Coach’s favorite workout apps, Fiit, now offers connected workouts for the Concept2 RowErg.
You will have to pay a subscription to use Fiit, but at $19.99 a month it’s a lot cheaper than the $44 a month for Hydrow, and the Concept2 is eminently usable without an app. If you buy a connected rower, you really need to budget for the ongoing cost of the app. With the Concept2 you can cut costs and follow something like Coach’s rowing workout plan for a couple of months.
You’re also spending less upfront compared with my second favorite rowing machine, the Hydrow Wave. Even with a $450 Cyber Monday discount, Hydrow’s more affordable option is still nearly $500 bucks more expensive.
You don’t even have to plug the Concept2 into the mains outlet to use it.
Who Shouldn’t You Buy A Concept2 RowErg?
The Concept2 isn’t perfect (what is?). The air resistance is fairly noisy and the machine isn’t the prettiest or most compact. Even split in two, the bulky fan cage and lengthy rail aren’t going to fit in your average cupboard.
Also, if you just want a machine for occasional rowing workouts or a low-impact exercise option to help you recover from injury, a cheaper model like the Bluefin Fitness Blade 2.0 or, in the UK, JLL R200, might suffice and save you a lot of money.
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