Best Rowing Machines Under $ 1000
Unlike our lists in lower price brackets, the best rowing machines under $ 1,000 are the ones that finally hit a threshold where you no longer need to compromise. Interested in a machine that the pros train on? We’ve got that. Want something a little mire high tech that allows you to follow along with streaming fitness classes? Yup, that’s in the cards as well. This is also the category where water rowers start becoming more prevalent, complete with adjustable resistance and other noteworthy features.
We’re out of the pool of ‘no names’ here, because when you’re looking to spend upwards of $1,000 on a rowing machine, you want a machine that will last, a brand you can trust, and the kind of rower that gets you excited and motivated about rowing. Going to a lower price point isn’t terrible, but it also means compromise—especially if you first started rowing on a commercial grade machine in your local gym.
Best Rowing Machines Under $1,000
Once you get to this point, both air and water resistance rowing machines become much more prevalent—rightfully so. These machines are more complex to build well, especially when compared to a magnetic resistance rowing machine. At this level, users expect a more fluid and realistic feel, which is why you see brands like Concept2 adding a special damping system to their air resistance setup, and NordicTrack pairing air resistance with magnetic resistance to increase the ability to control the machine more accurately.
With water rowers, we’re still in the entry stages of the category (there are more coming between $1,000 and $1,500). Here you’ll see water rowers with a minor amount of adjustability, which is a good jumping off point. In our experience, most rowers will find the setting that is best suited to their style and stay there. This is a big difference from treadmills and exercise bikes, where users (obviously) want to have real-time adjustability in their pacing. That said, added adjustability is never a bad thing.
Features and Specs
As expected, we’ve leveled up again, and these machines look and feel vastly more robust and well put together. Consoles are larger and clearer, offering a better view of your training metrics as you row. Often times the consoles in this price bracket are on adjustable arms, allowing users to adjust their height and position to suit their own needs.
We’re getting into more elaborate built-in programming in this tier, with most units offering some sort of sprint, interval, and race-style programming to follow along with during your workout. Obviously the NordicTrack leads the pack in that respect, as users can follow along to iFit classes on demand. That said, Concept2 Model D users also have the chance to be competitive here. The brand’s consoles have smart data logging on-board, which users can then upload to the Concept2 community and see where they stack up against fellow rowers from around the globe.
At this stage of the game most water rowers are still built on steel frames. Those sleek wood units are lingering just above the $1,000 price range, unfortunately.
What to Watch Out For
The only real specs to keep an eye on here are weight capacity and warranty. We’re into a very respectable level of build quality/construction, and most machines are apples-to-apples in many ways. As we notes, much as we love the interactive element, you’re trading off to a lower weight capacity on account of it. This won’t be relevant for everyone but it’s still something to consider.
1. Concept2 Model D
The Concept2 Model D is popular machine for a wide range of users. With 40 years in the business, Concept2 remains one of the most trusted and beloved brands for professional rowers, even after the advent of the water rower. A damper affixed to its resistance drive fan provides the ability to adjust resistance levels, and also helps to replicate that ‘real world’ rowing feel. Its basic console comes loaded with 10 workout programs, and has the ability to export your training data to share in the Concept2 community—a great way to see how you stack up against fellow rowers worldwide. The Model D makes our list of best rowing machines pretty much every year.Read the Full Concept2 Model D Review
2. First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR
The First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR rower is another older model in the brand’s catalog, and thankfully one that can be had relatively inexpensively when compared to the brand’s other water rowers. Similar to the current Neptune and Pacific models, it features a simplified single rail design paired with the brand’s adjustable resistance system—hence the AR in the name. Overall it’s a comfortable rower with a good warranty and solid overall construction. Its main downfall for some will be its lack of built-in training programs, but as we’ve noted previously, this really shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in the rowing category.Read the Full First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Review
3. NordicTrack RW500
When it comes to NordicTrack’s entry in the category, not only are you looking at a combination of air and magnetic resistance for improved control, but also the ability to follow along with interactive streaming training sessions, thanks to an included 1-year subscription to iFit. It’s perfectly well suited for a home gym, if you’re looking for something sturdy that boasts a solid warranty without completely breaking the bank. One of the best features about the RW500 is the 10-inch HD touchscreen tablet included with the rower, which was a simple and cost-effective alternative to making the machine with a built-in touchscreen. The machine’s main downfall is its limited 250 lb weight capacity.Read the Full NordicTrack RW500 Review