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First Degree Fitness Aqua AR Rower Review

Quick Take (Discontinued)

And we’re back onto another First Degree Fitness rower from the brand’s past releases—one that has (like many others) been replaced by newer models offering greater adjustability to resistance. These are still great, reliable water rowers backed by significant warranties, should you come across one in a discount outlet or for sale as a piece of pre-owned equipment. As an alternative of similar specification, you might want to have a look at their Newport Challenge rower instead.


Variable Water Resistance
Quiet Operation
Easy Storage


Non-Metal Wheels
Slow Response

Our Review

The AQUA AR is a shiny red and black rower offering a smooth “on-the-water” ambiance indoors. It is part of the First Degree Fitness Horizontal Series, which features full-sized indoor water rowers designed for compact storage. The AQUA AR has simplified assembly and carries a competitive warranty for home use.


A key selling point of virtually any water rowing machine is its smooth realistic stroke. With the Horizontal Series from First Degree Fitness, trainees can set resistance with a dial and easily make tension adjustments mid-workout. On the AQUA AR and certain other models in this series, interval training workouts are provided on the computer monitor. The AQUA AR’s monitor also shows time, distance, 500M split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts and heart rate. The AQUA AR measures about 81” long x 20” wide. Its seat is at office chair height (21″) and can hold up to 330 pounds.



  • Variable Water Resistance: Indoor water rowers support a smooth stroke and, compared with other types of rowers, best create the ambiance of outdoor training. First Degree Fitness rowers all user variable water resistance. In AQUA AR’s series, the resistance is adjusted with a simple Min/Max dial. The tension settings range from very light to very forceful.
  • Comfortable Seat: The AQUA AR’s contoured seat is at office chair height for ease of access.
  • Adjustable Footplates: The footplates have several height settings to fit different riders.
  • Data: The data monitor can provide wireless pulse feedback along with time, distance, 500M split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour and watts. Interval training programming is included. The chest strap for pulse monitoring is sold separately.
  • USB Port: The data monitor helps people set up basic workouts based on time, stroke count, distance or interval goals. Additionally a USB port on the monitor makes it convenient to use this rower with apps for training and entertainment.
  • Quiet Operation: AQUA rowers operate rather quietly. Instead of chains they use strong belts that require little day-to-day maintenance.
  • Easy to Store: This rowing machine can easily be rolled away and turned upright for storage.
  • High Capacity: The AQUA AR has a maximum user weight capacity of 330 pounds.
  • Good Warranty: The competitive home warranty provides five years of protection for the frame, three years for the tank, two for non-wearing mechanical parts, and one for wear parts.


  • Slow Response: The adjustable water tank requires a bit of time to adapt to new settings.
  • Belt: Rowers in this series are durable but sometimes their belts need to be readjusted.
  • Bungee: The tension in the handlebar’s bungee cord will naturally lose strength over time. A clip adjustment helps the rider alter the recoil.
  • Non-Metal Wheels: The wheels for the seat will wear down quickly under heavy use.
  • Water Replacement: Customers have complained that not all of the water can be drained. People need to be diligent about keeping the water purified with chlorine tablets.

Our Conclusion

The AQUA AR Rower is an affordable entry-level water rower for home gyms. It has some appealing features but not-so-great components are mixed in. For a small bump in price you can get better value. Similar rowers in this series and from WaterRower have better longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you fold the Aqua AR Indoor Rower?
A: The Aqua AR Indoor Rower does not fold but it can be stored vertically and re-positioned with the transport wheels.
Q: How large is the Aqua AR Indoor Rower?
A: The First Degree Fitness Aqua AR rowing machine is 81.5" L x 20.5" W x 23" H.

Rating: 80%

Resistance Type


Dimensions (inches)

81.5" L x 20.5" W x 23" H

Maximum User Weight Capacity

330 lbs

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