When it comes to home cardio machines, you’ve got plenty of choices. Treadmills are always a popular option while spinning bikes are invariably lighter, more compact, and cheaper. Some people prefer the low-impact workout of an elliptical. But, if you want a full-body workout that burns calories like a furnace, rowing machines are hard to beat.
Like bikes and ellipticals, rowers provide a joint-friendly workout as they involve no impact. However, unlike almost every other type of cardio, rowing machines work your arms, back, core AND legs. This means rowing burns more calories and saves you time, too.
There are lots of different rowers available, but the main difference is what they use for resistance. Some use large fans, while others have electromagnetic brakes. A few still use hydraulics. The First Degree Fitness Rower is a little different in that it’s a water rower.
This doesn’t mean you have to take it out on the river to get a good workout! Instead, there is a drum of water and paddle set up, which delivers a smooth and realistic rowing movement. In this article, we review the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower so you can decide if this is the right rowing machine for your home gym.
First Degree Fitness Fluid Rower – AR Newport Review
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is designed for home and light commercial use, and it’s got plenty of attractive and useful features:
- Heavy-duty but lightweight anodized steel frame
- Large two-chambered water drum with variable resistance
- Padded, ergonomically designed handle
- Adjustable, flexible footpads with straps
- Belt driven paddle
- Padded, contoured seat
- Ultra-smooth seat track and rollers
- Multi-function performance monitor
- PC connectivity and USB port
- Built-in transport wheels
- Vertical storage option
Dimensions and Specifications
If rower machines have a downside, it is that they tend to be quite long, and the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is no exception. While you can store this rower upright to save space, make sure you have enough room to use it before buying. The dimensions of this rowing machine are:
- Length – 77.8 inches
- Width – 20.9 inches
- Height – 20.1 inches
- Weight – 60 lbs
- Weight capacity – 300 lbs
Rowing Machine Design
Water rowers deliver a much smoother workout than other types of rowing machine. They also tend to be a lot quieter.
Like most water rowers, the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower features a large tank with an integral paddle which is driven by a pulley attached to a handle.
The tank is unique because it has two chambers.
This allows you to adjust the resistance without adding or removing water. The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is built on an anodized steel frame, so it should be hardwearing. It’s bright red, which gives it a striking appearance, and is a nice change to the more standard black or grey.
The large flexible footplates are fully adjustable and have straps to hold your feet in place, and the ergonomically shaped non-slip handle is padded for comfort and to prevent blisters. Unlike a lot of rowers, this machine features a drive belt instead of a cord or chain. This ensures your workout will be both smooth and quiet.
Rowing machine seats are often uncomfortable, but the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower features a padded, contoured seat which is a real bonus if you intend to do long workouts.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower has a useful, if fairly basic onboard console to monitor your workout. Powered by two AA batteries, you can also connect a heart rate monitor to the console via Bluetooth, although a chest strap is not supplied.
The unit tracks the following metrics:
- Split time per 500m
- Resistance level
- Pulse (heart rate monitor required)
- SPM (strokes per minute)
- Calories per hour
Ease of Use
Once you’ve put the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower together, it’s very easy to use.
There are four resistance settings on the water tank, so you can customize your workout acceding to your fitness levels.
However, when you start rowing, the harder you pull, the more the rower resists, so there is no need to stop, unstrap your feet, and make any further adjustments.
The performance monitor comes to life as soon as you start rowing and counts up from zero for a quick-start workout. Or, if you prefer, you can set the distance, time, or calories to count down. There is also an option for interval training. If you stop rowing, the monitor enters pause mode, so you can grab a quick drink and then resume your workout without losing your progress.
After sitting down and strapping your feet in, it’s simply a matter of grabbing the handle, extending your legs, and pulling the handle into your abdomen. Rowing IS a skill, but it’s quick to learn and easy to master. A few minutes of practice should be all you need to start rowing like a pro.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is a well-made rowing machine that delivers a smooth, effective workout. It’s built to last and should provide many years of use. That said, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before buying this rowing machine:
Basic monitor – the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower’s performance monitor has all the functions you need, but some comparable machines offer more. There are no pre-set programs to follow, and the monitor doesn’t store your workouts.
Low resistance – some fan rowers offer very heavy resistance settings, so you can almost have a strength training workout as well as working on your fitness.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower only offers limited resistance, so even on the heaviest setting, it probably won’t do much for your strength. Even on the highest setting, some users report that the resistance is relatively low.
Leaks – some users report that the water tank leaks, especially when stood upright for storage, and, if untreated, the water can become a home for algae. Leaks can be avoided by not overfilling the tank, and clear water treatment tablets are supplied with the rower. Tank seals are also covered by the warranty.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower requires some self-assembly, but most of the major components are already put together. The main job is filling the water tank, which is a straightforward task using the supplied pump.
Most users report that assembly took less than an hour and could be done by one person. All necessary instructions and tools are supplied.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is backed by a comprehensive warranty so you can buy with confidence:
- Frame: 5-years
- Tanks & seals: 3-years
- Components (non-wearing): 2-years
- Components (wearing): 1-year
Water rowers are a great alternative to fan and electromagnetic rowers. They provide a much more realistic workout and are usually smoother and quieter too. However, until relatively recently, water rowers were very big, heavy, and expensive, and not really suitable for home gyms.
The First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is a well-priced, well-made water rower that is suitable for home use. Built on a solid but light steel frame, this rowing machine has all the benefits of a water rower but none of the drawbacks.
A more advanced performance monitor would be nice, but that’s really nit-picking; this rower has everything you need to get fit and lose weight at home.
Like all rowing machines, the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower delivers a low-impact, full-body workout and is very easy to use. It does require a little self-assembly, and you’ll need to fill the resistance tank with water, but once it’s set up, this machine should require very little ongoing maintenance and should provide many years of reliable service.
If you are looking for a fun and effective home workout that won’t break the bank, the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Fluid Rower is an excellent choice.