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NordicTrack RW200 Indoor Rower Review

Quick Take

Affordable, iFit enabled, and loaded with useful programming, the NordicTrack RW200 is a perfect match for new rowers. It harnesses a stellar combination of air and magnetic resistance to train your whole body, helping you build strength and keep your heart rate up. Due to the air resistance component, the faster you row, the harder the RW200 pushes back. And if you want to row slowly, but intensely? Just work your way up through the RW200’s 24 digital magnetic resistance levels to increase the challenge at slow speeds.

Pros

Dual Resistance
iFit-Ready
Easy Folding

Cons

No Heart-Rate Data
Short Labor Warranty
Lower Weight Capacity

Our Review

While not as high tech as a number of other rowers in the market—those laden with large infotainment screens, and other bells and whistles—the NordicTrack RW200 indoor rower strikes a respectable price/features/value balance, especially for those a bit newer to the world of rowing.

 

The RW200 is Bluetooth-Smart enabled and comes with a free 1-year iFit membership for you to enjoy interactive training. You’ll have to dock your own tablet or smartphone on the console to watch the videos, but this helps to keep the overall cost of the machine down. With iFit, you’ll have a huge variety of workouts with world-class trainers at your fingertips. As well as thousands of off-machine workouts like yoga or pilates, iFit is always adding new rowing-specific routines for you to try.

 

Onboard exercise guidance comes in the form of 20 preset workout programs. These programs are a combination of watts and calorie-burn workouts (along with different levels of interval training). A data monitor displays your output on a motivational watts meter along with speed, elapsed time, and other stats. If you just want to row to some music, there’s an auxiliary music port for you to plug in your device, allowing you to listen to your favorite rowing workout playlists through the RW200’s built-in speakers.

 

The footprint of the NordicTrack RW200 indoor rower comes in at 86.5″ by 22.0″, which is a fair amount of space depending on where you’re looking to set it up in your home. That said, its folding design cuts this length substantially, allowing you to easily tuck the rower into a corner of the room when not in use. Where this also comes into play is in its weight capacity. Because NordicTrack opted for this hinged frame design, the RW200 can only carry rowers of up to 250 lbs. The reality here is that NordicTrack assumes that most people interested in rowing machines are already somewhat fit, and not using the rower as the jumping-off point of their fitness and weight loss journey. Where I get concerned is the fact that a hinged frame may lead to a less sturdy feeling machine after years of use. As a preference I tend to lean towards single/solid frame machines for this exact reason, but initial tests of the brand’s rowers show a reasonably sturdy structure from new.

 

Positives

Here are a few of the RW200’s stellar selling points.

 

  • Air & Magnetic Resistance: The air resistance system—which is essentially a fan—produces minimal noise while sending out a cooling breeze. The more intensely you row, the more air resistance is generated. Air resistance systems are popular for being smooth and replicating the feel of rowing through water fairly accurately (although not as much as a water rower). The RW200 combines this with NordicTrack’s SMR™ (silent magnetic resistance). The 24 digital resistance levels allow you to up the challenge even at slow speeds.
  • Performance Monitor: The good-looking monitor displays watts, strokes-per-minute, total strokes, time, calories, and distance. These fields can be rotated at the push of a button. Plus, a watts meter constantly shows your energy expenditure as you train. Choose from 20 preset programs designed by certified personal trainers to help you reach your fitness goals. Ten of the programs are focused on watts, while the other ten are calorie-burn workouts. The monitor can be powered by batteries or plugged in with a power adapter.
  • Pivoting pedals: The foot rests or pedals are made large to fit all shoe sizes. They pivot with your movement to support a healthy and natural range of motion. The pedals have adjustable nylon straps, textured to add stability to training.
  • iFit-Enabled: The RW200 is Bluetooth-Smart enabled, allowing you to connect your tablet or smartphone to your rower for interactive training. It comes with a free 1-year iFit membership for you to enjoy a basically unlimited variety of workouts with world-class personal trainers. Try an off-machine HIIT workout to mix up your training regime, or hop on your machine for a rowing-specific routine. The trainer will automatically control your resistance in the rowing videos, allowing for a fully immersive training experience.
  • Speakers: You can plug in your phone or tablet into the RW200’s auxiliary music port to listen to your favorite workout playlists through the set of 2” speakers.
  • Ergonomic Handle and Seat: The machine’s ergonomic rowing handle is cushioned and supports healthy motion. There’s also an ergonomic, molded seat for comfort.
  • Higher Profile: The seat is raised from the ground, which makes the rower easier to access for people with arthritis or other limitations on movement.
  • Easy to Store: The RW200 rower has a handy SpaceSaver design. It can be folded vertically for cleaning and storage. Caster wheels at the front of the rower make it easy to move from room to room after workouts.

Negatives

Here are a few potential drawbacks of the RW200.

 

  • No Heart-Rate Data: Since this is a cardio trainer, it would be nice if a heart-rate monitor were included. To make the most of exercise sessions, we would pair this rowing machine with a wearable device that displays heart rate.
  • Short Labor Warranty: The NordicTrack RW200 is covered by a 10-year frame warranty and 2-year parts warranty, but you only get a year for labor. Replacing a faulty monitor or tension cord will be expensive, so this is something to keep in mind here.
  • Lower Weight Capacity: The maximum user weight capacity is 250 pounds. This is pretty typical for cheap rowing machines, while more expensive water rowing machines can hold 1000 pounds or more. The lower weight capacity can be a good indicator of overall quality (i.e. lower quality).

Our Conclusion

As NordicTrack’s entry-level rower, the RW200 is primarily designed for beginners. It will help new rowers build strength, and deliver great cardio sessions to people at any fitness level. Users seeking intense strength training could tire of this machine fairly quickly though.

 

That said, the addition of magnetic resistance to this rower (which only featured air resistance at its debut) adds another dimension to the machine. It allows for more intense resistance even at slower speeds. This in combination with iFit (which is free for a whole year with the purchase) will provide enough workout variety to keep most users challenged and motivated.

 

At the under-$1,000 web price, the NordicTrack RW200 rower is an affordable, rewarding starter machine. We recommend it if the onboard programming and iFit training appeals to you; these features set this rower apart from others in its price category.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How large is the NordicTrack RW200 Rower?
A: The NordicTrack RW200 is 86.5" L x 22.0" W x 42.8" H.
Q: How do you increase resistance on the NordicTrack RW200 Rower?
A: You can increase the magnetic resistance on the NordicTrack RW200 Rower by pressing the plus button at the bottom of the console (24 levels).

Rating: 80%

Resistance Type

Air

Resistance Level

24

Programs

20

Bluetooth

Yes

Dimensions (inches)

86.5" L x 22.0" W x 42.8" H

Folding

Yes

Maximum User Weight Capacity

250 lbs

View Full Specifications