Updated July 2021
Written by Katie Reseburg Authors 's image

PRODUCT REVIEW: Hydrow rowing machine 

If you enjoy ellipticals, exercise bikes, or other exercise machines, the purchase of an indoor rower is a great next step in your fitness journey. Hydrow is a feature-packed rowing machine that uses personalized coaching and instruction to give you a challenging workout at home.

 

Even if you have never used a rower before, the ergonomic Hydrow is a great place to start.

Bottom Line

Hydrow provides a challenging, engaging workout at home.

Pros: Sleek and attractive. Quiet, smooth operation. Comfortable padded seat. Monthly subscription plan without a long-term commitment. Classes and challenges provide extra guidance.

 

Cons: Requires ample space. Difficult to store. Pricey, although payment plans are available.

Who is Hydrow for?

People who want an indoor rower and would enjoy a modern, competitive workout from the comfort of home.

 

What does it do?

This simulated water rowing machine creates the feeling of rowing on water.

 

How much does it cost?

As low as $63 a month.


Shopping guide for Hydrow rowing machine

Written by Katie Reseburg
Updated July 2021

 

Hydrow rowing machines all share the same foundational design, which allows for upper body and lower body exercise as well as cardio and strength training for core muscle groups.

 

Your personal experience with the machine is customizable.

 

Size and weight

The machine requires at least 9 by 4 feet of floor space.

 

Dimensions are 86 inches long, 25 inches wide and 47 inches tall. Weight is 145 pounds.

 

Materials/construction

The Hydrow machine has a black/dark gray color scheme with an aluminum/steel frame and flat anthracite polymer body.

 

Footbeds are adjustable for correct placement. Handlebars and padded seats are ergonomically designed. Foldable digital monitor is adjustable for optimal viewing from various heights and angles.

 

The rower requires a standard 120-watt outlet.

 

Storage

You can’t fold the Hydrow for storage, but it can be stored vertically using an upright storage kit. This is sold separately at Hydrow and Best Buy

 

Audio-visual components

This home rowing machine is outfitted with a large 22-inch (1920 x 1080 resolution) full HD touchscreen performance monitor. Guided workouts are immersive and fun.

 

Warranty

The frame and upright storage kit (if you purchase this) are covered for up to 5 years.

 

The screen performance monitor and other electronics are under warranty for 12 months. Labor is covered for 12 months.

 

An extended warranty is available under the Clyde Protection Plan. You can choose to add one or two additional years of protection.

 

A two-year plan costs $199; a three-year plan costs $289. See full warranty details here.

 

Limitations

  • Height: 36-inch inseam
  • Weight: 375 pounds
  • Not suitable for competitive rower training or indoor racing.
  • Not foldable for completely storing away
  • Limited warranty terms

Pricing

The base price is $2,345. This does not include a membership fee for classes, self-guided workouts, or access to community features.

 

Shipping is always free, and all machines have a 30-day free trial.

 

Several package options and payment plans available via Klama (a free financing app) for those who don’t want to pay the full cost upfront.

 

Here are your pricing options*:

  • Hydrow machine only: $2,245, or as low as $63 per month with Klarna. One-year warranty (home gym use only) and unlimited profiles under one membership.
  • A free heart rate monitor is sometimes included.
  • Starter package: $2,520, or as low as $70 per month with Klarna. Includes rower, under-machine mat, heart rate monitor, wireless headphones, one year warranty (home use only), and unlimited profiles.
  • Pro package: $2,705, or as low as $76 per month with Klarna. Includes rower, under-machine mat, heart rate monitor, wireless headphones, one year warranty (home gym only), unlimited profiles under one membership, and workout kit (mat, two yoga blocks, and a 7-piece multi-resistance band set, and foam roller).

*Pricing is subject to change; visit the Hydrow Shop for current information.

Hydrow membership

To fully customize your rowing workouts and get the most out of the machine’s features, you will want to sign up for a membership.

 

You can pay for a yearly membership right away ($456), or $38 per month.

 

Memberships include:

  • Full access to Hydrow rowing workouts and classes, which stream to your home gym.
    • Live workouts: Row with a live instructor on the water.
    • On-demand workouts: Access a full library of pre-recorded workouts.
    • Journeys: Appreciate a virtual waterrower experience from the comfort of your own home.
    • Mat classes: Take strength training, Pilates, and yoga classes.
  • One membership allows you to set up unlimited profiles.
  • Community challenges and resources: Connect with and cheer on other rowers in an online community.

Where can I buy a Hydrow rower?

Currently, you can only purchase a Hydrow machine directly from Hydrow.

 

Be wary of third-party sellers. These machines may not be in mint condition, and they don’t come with full warranty or product support.

 

Shop for a Hydrow machine here.

About the brand

Hydrow was founded by Bruce Smith, a lifelong rower, in 2017. He has served as a coach for the U.S. National Team and won numerous rowing awards.

 

Smith wanted to develop a state-of-the-art rowing machine with comfort in mind while replicating the on-the-water experience.

 

Hydrow’s coaches or class instructors, “Athletes”, are skilled rowers with expert knowledge. Classes are highly engaging and effective.

 

Rowing machines provide full-body workouts suitable for people of all fitness levels.

 

Rowers who cannot get on the water as much as they’d like appreciate having a rowing machine at home.

 

The company prides itself on its charitable efforts, too. After 60 completed rowing sessions, Hydrow makes a donation to Water.org, a charity that provides safe water and sanitation products to developing regions.
 

Contacting customer service

There are several ways to reach Hydrow customer support:

Hydrow owner manual

Find an electronic copy of the Hydrow Owner Manual here.

 

How to set up your Hydrow

Here is our quick-start guide based on our own experience. For more detailed instruction, consult the complete Hydrow setup guide or owner's manual.

 

1.    Decide where you want to put your machine. It must:
      a.    Be a flat, level, stable surface
      b.    Indoors
      c.    Have enough clearance around it
      d.    Be out of direct sunlight (at least on the monitor)
      e.    Be less than 12 feet away from an outlet
      f.    Have a strong WiFi connection

2.    Put a machine mat down to protect your floor, then place the machine on top.
3.    Plug the power cord into Hydrow and the three-pronged end into a power outlet.  
4.    Turn the power on, or to the “1” position (“0” is off). 
5.    Connect to the internet. Follow the instructions on your monitor to connect to WiFi, set up your user profile(s), and activate membership (optional).
6.    Adjust the seat, footbeds, handlebars, and digital monitor.
7.    Consult your user manual, online tutorials, or contact Hydrow Support if you need help.  

 

Ways to use your Hydrow

Obviously, a Hydrow’s purpose is to facilitate strength training and cardio exercise. But there are several different approaches you can take when using a Hydrow.

 

Live outdoor reality classes

These are streamed live and tend to be 20 to 30 minutes twice a day (except Sundays and holidays).

 

Our tester loved the sound of the water and the multiple viewpoints. They also liked having virtual teammates to help focus on timing and rhythm.

 

On-demand exercise classes

These are either previously recorded live rowing classes or on-the-mat warm-up and cool-down classes.

 

Self-guided workouts

These are called “Journeys.” You set your own pace as you row through scenic rivers and waterways.

 

Common concerns

The perfect exercise machine arguably does not exist, so even with all of its strengths, there are areas where the Hydrow may cause frustration.

 

Here are the top issues and how to troubleshoot them.

 

Computer-controlled resistance vs. air resistance

Most standard rowing machines create resistance with air. The Hydrow controls it via computer. So, how do computer-controlled levels of resistance compare to the air resistance on other ergometer (erg) machines?

 

Our product tester found that Hydrow’s simulated water resistance was very smooth and that the catch-delay was comparable to that of an air erg. They reported no jerking or drop-off of resistance through the stroke.

 

They also appreciated when the different drag levels were explained during the setup process.

 

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Bulky machine

A top concern with any air rower, indoor rowing machine, or other piece of fitness equipment is space.

 

We found the sleek modern design to fit in nicely with most decor. But, yes — it is rather large.

 

Before you buy, carefully measure your horizontal and vertical space. Note that you won’t be able to easily store it away, either.

 

Touchscreen responsiveness and computer connectivity

How does the touchscreen work with sweaty, trembling hands and quick taps? The short answer is: very well.

 

The digital display is intuitive, fast, and responsive, even with sweaty fingers. Basically, it did what we expected it to.

 

Stability

Our tester was impressed with the sturdiness of the machine.

 

The solid design of the 10-roller system seat is notable; it is cushioned and ergonomically crafted to fit the body. They called the futuristic design “well-built” with quality, durable materials.

 

Noise

As noted, our tester was impressed with the smooth, quiet operation of the Hydrow, even in a small apartment.

 

While no exercise machine is 100% silent, the Hydrow is significantly quieter than a standard erg machine thanks to its industrial-grade webbed strap.

 

Optional accessories

Heart rate monitor

A heart rate monitor is essential to tracking your fitness progress. You can opt for one in the form of a mobile app, smartwatch, LCD monitor, or multifunctional fitness tracker like our Best of the Best pick, the Fitbit Charge 4.

 

Upright storage kit

If you’re tight on the space, this kit is your storage solution. $69.99 at Hydrow.com.

 

Machine mat

We like the Stamina Fold-to-Fit Folding Equipment Mat, which is affordable and segmented to fit all sorts of equipment.

 

Hydrow also sells a machine mat for $79.99 or as part of a package.

 

Hydrow mobile app

You can download this iPhone app whether you own a Hydrow or not.

 

Downloading the app is free. Basic digital membership is $19.99 (one-time purchase).

How to find a Hydrow on sale

This isn’t a bargain-priced machine by any means, and while sales and deals aren’t readily available, there are times and opportunities to save.

 

Your best bet is to sign up for their email newsletter — this simple act can save you up to $200. You can also earn free gifts like a heart rate monitor when you buy your Hydrow machine.

 

Similar products

If you’re still scoping out options, there are a few other standout machines to consider. For a full breakdown of the category, check out our page on the best rowing machines.

 

Concept2 Model D: This air-resistance rowing machine is manufactured by a leading indoor rowing brand. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it comes at a more affordable price ($900).

 

Echelon Smart Rower: While a popular and more affordable alternative to the Hydrow, users report that the app is buggy and that adjusting the resistance levels can be a point of frustration.

 

WaterRower: These are the closest to replicating that on-the-water feeling, and the wood construction is appealing to many who want a more rustic-looking machine.