If you are looking for a total body workout that’s also low impact and enjoyable, rowing could be exactly what you are looking for. But, if rowing has a drawback, it is that most rowing machines are truly hideous to behold!
The WaterRower destroys this stereotype and looks like it would be as at home in a modern art museum as it would your Livingroom. In this Natural Water Rower review, we’ll determine if this machine is more style than substance or works as good as it looks.
To get the most from this or any other rowing, you must row with proper technique. That means you drive with your legs and then pull with your arms as the handle passes over your knees. You then reverse this action, starting with your arms.
Maintain a reasonably upright torso to keep stress off your lower back and look straight ahead to avoid building up tension in your neck. Remember to keep your wrists straight too. Follow these instructions and your rowing workouts will be both productive and safe.
So, is the WaterRower right for you? Let’s see!
- THE ORIGINAL WATERROWER - HANDCRAFTED AND BUILT TO LAST - Designed in the mid '80s by Yale and US National Team Rower John Duke. WaterRower continues to combine stylish design, handcrafted workmanship, our unique WaterFlywheel resistance and ethically sourced materials create the world's finest rowing simulator
- MADE IN USA - Hand-built in Rhode Island; all timber used in the manufacture of wooden WaterRower rowing machines is sourced from sustainably managed hardwood forests in the Appalachian Mountains. The ASH Rower is Made of Ash Wood with a Natural Color Finish
- SMOOTH - Water rowers use a water-filled flywheel to provide resistance as you row. The resistance is created by the paddle-like blades of the flywheel moving through the water, creating a smooth and natural resistance that closely resembles the feeling of rowing on water. Like water, the harder you fight, the more resistance you get
- BURN CALORIES IN SHORT TIME - There are many benefits to rowing. It is a low impact cardiovascular exercise that puts less stress on your joints. Full body workout that includes your legs, core, back and arms. Perfect for all fitness levels. This water rowing machine targets all major muscle groups (84 percent of total muscle mass)
- BEST WARRANTY - 1 year manufacturers warranty (upgradeable to 3-year parts while 5-year frame is free of charge w/ registration). No call center - Work with U.S. representatives. DIMENSIONS - 82" L x 20" H x 22" W / weight: 103.5 lbs (with water). Easily store it on end
WaterRowers are popular in commercial gyms, although they are equally suitable for home use. As such, they have lots of features that are worth mentioning, and the main ones are:
- Stunning kiln-dried hardwood frame with a honey oak finish
- Unique, water-filled drum and internal paddle for resistance
- Padded, dual-rail seat for comfortable rowing
- Rated for users up to 300 lbs. in weight
- Drive strap in place of a chain which is quiet in use and very hardwearing
- Adjustable, flexible footplates fitted with straps to hold your feet in position
- Padded rowing handle for enhanced comfort and grip
- Can be stood upright for easy storage
- S4 multifunctional performance monitor
All WaterRowers are fitted with the S4 performance monitor, which is one of the best onboard rowing computers around. With this easy to use device, you can track the intensity of your workout, current stroke rate, heart rate (in conjunction with an HR monitor), workout duration, target fitness zone, and distance rowed. The S4 has also been preprogrammed with several workouts, and the user can program and save their own workouts too.
There is no escaping the fact that rowing machines tend to be quite long, and the WaterRower is no different. Also, because of its solid wooden frame, it’s quite a lot heavier than other types of rowing machines. That said, a rower is still lighter and easier to move than a treadmill or elliptical. In the case of the WaterRower, the extra mass makes using this machine a very stable affair, leaving you free to concentrate on working on your fitness.
The dimensions of the WaterRower are:
- Length – 82 inches
- Width – 22 inches
- Height – 28 inches
- Weight – 114 pounds (with drum filled with water)
- Weight capacity – 300 lbs.
As a space-saving feature, the water rower can be stood on its end when not in use, giving it a storage footprint of just 22 x 28 inches. Because of this, you can stand it discretely in a corner between workouts.
Design and Resistance
Most rowing machines use fans or electromagnetic brakes for resistance. A few low-tech models feature hydraulic rams. WaterRowers are different and, as the name implies, use water for resistance instead.
Instead of being connected to a fan, flywheel, or electromagnetic brake, the WaterRower’s drive strap is connected to a paddle housed within a sealed water drum. Pulling the strap forces the paddle to turn inside the drum, providing the resistance. This resistance is delivered very smoothly and actually feels like you are rowing on water.
WaterRowers don’t just simulate the feel of rowing on a river or lake, they also sound like it too. As the paddle passes through the water, it makes a distinctive swooshing noise that makes a very welcome change to the whir of a fan. As with most rowers, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance, which means there are no fiddly settings to adjust.
All WaterRowers are built on a wooden frame, which, like the water drum, is a unique design feature. This makes them look like a piece of modern furniture, so they are ideally suited for home use.
Ease of Use
Once you have mastered the basics of proper rowing, the WaterRower is straightforward to use. You simply sit on the seat, strap in your feet, grab the handles, and start rowing. The S4 performance monitor will power up as soon as you start exercising and begin recording your workout.
If you would prefer to follow a pre-loaded or saved workout, simply call it up on the monitor and then get to work.
Maintenance of the WaterRower is equally straightforward. Just wipe down after use, oil the seat rollers from time to time to keep them running smoothly, and check the drive strap for wear and tear. All of the other components are maintenance-free.
Pros & Cons
WaterRowers aren’t cheap, so it’s important you weigh up the pros and cons before buying.
- A very attractive piece of exercise equipment
- Built to last
- Very easy on the joints
- Feels and sounds very similar to rowing on water
- Large, easy to read LCD console
- Very comfortable seat
- The monitor can be linked to a computer for downloading/uploading workouts
- Quite narrow footplates which could be a problem for larger users
- Performance monitor is not within easy reach while you are rowing
- The seat is quite low to the ground which can make standing up after a hard work out a challenge
The WaterRower requires some assembly before using, but this is a straightforward process. You just need to bolt the main components together and fill the drum with water. The water may need replacing periodically as it has a tendency to go green. This will not affect your workout but isn’t especially attractive. The green water problem is easily prevented by adding a chlorine tablet.
WaterRowers are quite expensive, but they are also covered by a good warranty so you can buy with confidence. The details of the guarantee are:
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty on parts
- 5-year frame warranty
The parts warranty is upgradable to five years if you register your product with the manufacturer within 30 days of purchase.
WaterRowers are ideal for exercisers who want a rowing machine that looks great and provides a workout to match. Their unique design means they also feel and sound like you are rowing on water, and that never gets old. The S4 performance monitor is easy to use and packed with useful functions and features. However, it would be even better if you could reach it without having to unstrap your feet!
Working out on the WaterRower is very easy on your joints as there is no shock loading, as there can be with other types of resistance. This is all thanks to the water drum and paddle set up that give WaterRowers their name.
If these machines have a disadvantage, it is that they are quite large and heavy. You can stand your rower on its end when it’s not in use to save space, but there is nothing you can do about the weight; it’s unavoidable with all that water and wood. That said, moving a WaterRower is easy as they’re fitted with small wheels, and all the weight is located at the front. Just left the back end and roll – simple.
WaterRowers are arguably one of the best-looking rowing machines around, and they are also one of the most enjoyable to use. Providing you don’t mind the price tag, Water Rowers are highly recommended.
For those looking for a natural rower to mimic being outdoors, this is a great option. We've covered the key information to help you decide.