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Lifecore R88 Rower Review

Quick Take (Discontinued)

The Lifecore R88 rowing machine is a compact and affordable offering, now discontinued from the brand (as is the entire line of rowers from Lifecore, unfortunately). You might come across one in discount fitness warehouses or elsewhere on the web, but generally they’re a bit hard to track down these days. It’s another one of these machines that isn’t the best in the category, but also isn’t the worst; in a deep competitive pool like this, there’s little surprise that the brand decided to get out of the category. It’s not especially quiet, nor is it packed with bells and whistles, however it is otherwise reasonably well made and had a couple of built in training programs (not too common in rowers under $700).


Aluminum Track
Easy Folding


Limited Programming

Our Review

The Lifecore R88 Rowing Machine delivers efficient aerobic workouts in a compact package. It sits just 15” from the ground, is 70” long and 18” wide. The console uses battery power so the machine can be placed anywhere; no power cord is required.

Tension for this rower is manually controlled. At the lowest level only air resistance is used. For levels 2 through 6, the air resistance is augmented with magnetism. Each stroke is of the same strength; you don’t “coast” as you would with water resistance. Trainees can choose from manual mode and a racing program.

The Lifecore R88 sells for $699. The parts and monitor are protected for two years.



  • Aluminum Track: Rowing the Lifecore R88, you’ll glide along an industrial strength aluminum rail. Its maximum user weight capacity is 300 pounds.
  • Low Profile: The R88 positions you just 15” from the floor, similar to as if you were rowing on the water. This is a good height for people in good physical condition. Those with limited movement might prefer a higher entry point.
  • Wireless Pulse: Accurate heart rate data helps you make the most of aerobic exercise; you know when to speed up or slow down to stay within your target heart rate zone. The Lifecore R88 has a wireless heart rate receiver. It requires a chest strap (sold separately).
  • Data: A simple LCD monitor shows times for 500 meters, total time, strokes per minute, total strokes, calories burned, speed, distance and pulse. Two workout programs (Manual and Race) are built into the monitor.
  • Storage: This rower can easily be folded for storage. Wheels are built into the front to let you roll the machine into position.
  • Warranty: The parts and monitor are covered for two years, which isn’t bad. However, the labor warranty is only for 90 days. (Lifecore’s R88 PRO has a one-year labor warranty.) Labor is performed in-home.


  • Two Program Modes: Little workout guidance is provided. Riders can choose from manual mode and “Race,” in which they race against the machine. This is of course preferable to no workout help at all, but other rowers in this price class give more support.
  • Noise: This machine doesn’t seem noisy to the rider, but it’s audible to other household members. This isn’t the best rowing machine for people seeking a “whisper quiet” ride.
  • Ergonomics: Lifecore has paid some attention to ergonomics but perhaps not enough. The handlebar on the R88 rower is tilted 10 degrees, which helps promote a natural rowing form, but some customers find the seat placement to be awkward. The seat is high in relation to the pedals, so the upper body is worked more than expected.
  • Price: The price is a bit high for a machine of this calibre. It also seems that the labor warranty should be longer; labor is only free during the first three months of ownership.

Our Conclusion

The Lifecore R88 Rower gets mostly positive customer reviews but doesn’t make our list of best rowing machines. The price is too high considering the drawbacks listed above. You can find a rower with better programming, more comfortable ergonomics and better customer protection.

The Concept2 Model D, which is the world’s best-selling rowing machine, costs just $200 more and can take you much further.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many levels of resistance does the Lifecore R88 Rower have?
A: The Lifecore R88 rowing machine has 6 levels of resistance.
Q: Does the Lifecore R88 rowing machine fold?
A: The Lifecore R88 folds for easy storage.
Q: What are the folded dimensions of the Lifecore R88 rower?
A: The Lifecore R88 is 24" x 18" x 62" when folded.

Rating: 75%

Resistance Type


Resistance Level




Dimensions (inches)

70" L x 18" W x 26" H



Maximum User Weight Capacity

300 lbs

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