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First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR Rower

Quick Take

When people think of water rowers, generally the image of a sleek wood frame is what immediately comes to mind, but that doesn’t make the Neptune Challenge AR rower (or other metal frame counterparts) any less valid as an option. It’s one of few water rowers that tuck in just under the $1,000 mark, and one of even fewer that does so all while offering adjustable resistance. Being a more basic entry there are only 4 resistance levels to choose, but thankfully these are adjusted via a control knob rather than having to adjust water levels in its tank.


Variable Water Resistance
Quiet Operation
Easy Storage


Slow Response
No Heart-Rate Data
No Programs

Our Review

The Neptune Challenge AR by First Degree Fitness is a sturdy home rowing machine that’s designed for easy storage. While water rowers tend to be heavy and demand a lot of space, this unit has a lightweight metal frame and can be stored upright. It has a variable resistance system to suit a wide range of training levels. Programming on this model is minimal, which helps keeps the price under $1000.


A main advantage of water rowing machines is the smooth and complete stroke cycle that you won’t necessarily get from air or magnetic resistance units. With the First Degree Fitness brand, trainees can set a particular resistance level and get training feedback from the attached computer monitor. Resistance is adjusted with a dial placed directly on the water flywheel. It’s a relatively simple system, but still something that doesn’t come frequently in the category. Given the added moving parts, we’re happy to see that the overall warranty is a reasonable length overall. This indoor water rower measures approximately 78” long x 21” wide and has a maximum user weight capacity of 330 pounds.



  • Variable Water Resistance: Many rowing enthusiasts prefer water rowers over the other indoor rower alternatives. Water resistance rowers can not only support a smooth stroke cycle, but also bring the sight and sound of splashing water for a more complete sensory experience. On the Neptune Challenge AR Rower the resistance level can be adjusted with a dial. At the highest level about 4.5 gallons (17 liters) fill the tank. The resistance possibilities range from very light to very powerful.
  • Cushioned Seat: The Neptune Challenge AR’s sliding seat is cushioned and slightly molds itself to the rider.
  • Pivoting Footplates: The footplates pivot, allowing the trainee’s lower body to use a natural range of motion.
  • Data: A basic monitor shows time, calories burned, strokes per minute, stroke total and tempo.
  • Quiet Operation: Water rowers make a bit of noise with their tanks, but overall this unit operates quietly. It has a belt drive instead of a chain and the seat glides very smoothly.
  • Easy to Store: This rowing machine can easily be flipped vertically for storage. Its stored dimensions are just under 22” wide, 21” wide and 78” tall.
  • High Capacity: The Neptune Challenge 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 and non-wearing mechanical parts, and one for wear parts.


  • Slow Response: When a rider sets a new water resistance level, it doesn’t take effect until another 10 strokes have been taken. With other resistance systems the change is instantaneous.
  • Bungee: The Neptune Challenge is low maintenance overall, but its bungee might sometimes need tightening by the owner. This process is outlined in the owner’s manual.
  • No Pulse Monitor: This rower doesn’t have a contact monitor or wireless receiver.
  • No Preset Workouts: The Neptune Challenge AR gives workout feedback but does not have built-in workout programs. Also, unlike some other rowers in this series, it lacks a USB port for expanded functionality.

Our Conclusion

The Neptune Challenge AR Rower is a reliable, low-cost and lightweight water rower for home use. We would prefer a water rower with heart rate monitoring and preset programs, but this option fits shoppers with simpler preferences. The Newport Challenge AR is a recommended step up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How large is the First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR Rower?
A: The Neptune Challenge AR rowing machine is 77.8" L x 20.9" W x 20.1" H.
Q: What is the maximum weight capacity of the Neptune Challenge AR Rower?
A: The First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR Rower can hold up to 300 lbs.

Rating: 83%

Resistance Type


Dimensions (inches)

77.8" L x 20.9" W x 20.1" H

Maximum User Weight Capacity

300 lbs

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