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First Degree Fitness Apollo Hybrid AR Rower Review

Quick Take (Discontinued)

The First Degree Fitness Apollo Hybrid AR Rower is an indoor water rower for residential use. An earlier model in the brand’s extensive water rower catalog, the Apollo Hybrid AR Rower—while not quite as high spec as their PRO models—offers a reasonable amount of features alongside the general appeal of its water resistance configuration. It’s compatible with a handful of rowing apps (with additional driver installation, and offers a taller seat height to avoid that feeling of having to hoist yourself up off the floor after completing your workout.


This model has been replaced by a range newer options from First Degree Fitness.


Variable Water Resistance
Easy Storage
Wireless Heart Rate


Slow Response
Nylon Rollers
Belt Drive

Our Review

What’s in the name? ‘Hybrid’ describes this machine’s great-looking frame, which is a sleek combination of steel and ash hardwood. AR stands for adjustable resistance, which no longer appears in current model names, as adjustable resistance is now a standard feature across all First Degree Fitness rowing machines. Riders can choose from a wide range of resistance by adjusting a Min/Max dial.


The Apollo Hybrid AR impressively simulates on-water rowing. Riders get the sight and sound of splashing water, and the stroke feels realistic; there are no “dead zones” like the brief stroke cycle breaks associated with many non-water rowing machines.


Heart rate and other exercise feedback are provided on the Apollo AR’s computer monitor. (Chest straps for heart rate are sold separately.) The rowing machine can also be connected to a PC for integration with fitness apps that support training and entertainment.


This rower measures approximately 78″ x 21″ x 21″ and has a maximum user weight capacity of 300 pounds. As part of its competitive residential warranty package, all mechanical parts are guaranteed for three years. A typical selling price is $1399 with shipping included.



  • Variable water resistance: The Apollo Hybrid AR Rower uses water resistance to produce the sensation of rowing a boat. The stroke is smooth and the water’s splash is audible. The resistance level can be adjusted with a knob. At the highest level, 17 liters (about 4.5 gallons) fill the tank. Resistance ranges from very light to very powerful.
  • Higher seat: Indoor rower seats generally are either close to the ground or at office chair height. The Apollo Hybrid AR is at office chair height (21”) to best accommodate most adults.
  • Adjustable footplates: The footplates adjust to help riders of different sizes get a comfortable fit.
  • Data and workout apps: The rower’s computer monitor shows time, distance, 500 meter split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training and heart rate (with a wireless chest strap, not included). If the owner installs a driver and apps, then workout apps can be used too. An example is NetAthlon 2 XF, which lets a trainee train solo or race against other Internet-connected rowers in a virtual reality environment. The monitor is powered by batteries and automatically turns off after five minutes of inactivity.
  • Wireless heart rate: The First Degree Fitness Apollo Hybrid AR has an accurate wireless receiver for pulse data. The transmitter chest strap is sold separately.
  • Hardwood: The wooden frames for Apollo water rowers are made from sustainably sourced American ash. It not only has aesthetic appeal to many shoppers, but also has good dimensional stability while allowing the slightest amount of flex during exercise.
  • Easy to store: This rowing machine can be flipped upright for easy storage.
  • High capacity: The First Degree Fitness Apollo Hybrid AR has a maximum user weight capacity of 300 pounds.
  • Good warranty: The warranty provides five years of protection for the frame, three for the tank, two for mechanical parts and one for wear parts.



  • Slow response: When a rider sets a new resistance level, it doesn’t take hold until another 10 strokes have been taken. Some riders are impatient with this delay.
  • Nylon rollers: The Apollo AR’s seat rolls on nylon wheels, not metal wheels. The wheels are likely to wear down and are under warranty for one year only.
  • Belt drive: The Apollo AR has a belt drive rather than a chain drive. This has advantages and a drawback. The belt drive operates more quietly than a chain drive and doesn’t require regular maintenance as a chain might. The downside is that the belt has a shorter lifespan.


Our Conclusion

The Apollo Hybrid AR Rower is recommended most highly to an individual or couple seeking a rowing machine with manually variable water resistance. This machine looks classy and has high quality essentials, but its wear parts might not provide good value under heavy use. The club quality Apollo PRO is a more robust alternative.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the Apollo Hybrid AR Rower fold?
A: The Apollo Hybrid AR Rower does not fold but it can stand vertically for storage.
Q: What are the dimensions of the Apollo Hybrid AR Rower when stored upright?
A: The Apollo Hybrid AR Rower is 550mm x 540mm (22" x 21") when stored upright.
Q: How do you change resistance on the Apollo Hybrid AR Rower?
A: The Apollo Hybrid AR rowing machine features Adjustable Fluid Resistance which you can change manually by the dial.

Rating: 90%

Resistance Type


Dimensions (inches)

84" L x 22" W x 21" H

Maximum User Weight Capacity

330 lbs

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