Not everyone has the luxury of getting a large piece of exercise equipment for their home. For this reason, a compact rowing machine is something that many people opt to choose over those that are larger. Depending on how the interior of your home is designed and how much free space you have at your convenience two issues to consider are how much space do you have available for your workouts and where can you store the equipment after your workouts so that they don’t get in the way nor do they mess up the decorative look of your home.
While there are smaller machines, we will only consider those that are worth your money, not the products that will quickly break down or not effective in giving you a good workout.
A combination of affordability and portability, the Stamina Body Trac Glider costs $110 and is among the rowing machines that take up the least amount of space. The oars fold inward reducing its width allowing you to store it upright on a corner of the closet or lying flat under the bed.
Simple to use and assemble, it doesn’t take much time to start rowing on this machine. The Stamina 1050 is a no frills rower that gives you the basic performance monitor that measures time and distance rowed along with calories used up and the number of strokes. The moving parts include the hydraulic cylinder with adjustable resistance, the joints of the oars and the sliding seat. This makes it easy to keep the machine maintained.
Another compact rower is the Stamina 1215 rowing machine. At 47 pounds and carrying a small footprint, it is easy to transport from one area of the home to another in case you want to store it in a different area from where you workout. The quiet hydraulic pistons and rolling seat allow you to listen to music or watch television as you exercise without having to turn up the volume just to overcome the machine’s noise.
While the Stamina 1215 comes with free motion arms that let you move your arms in circular motion during the recovery phase, you can opt to use the more standard indoor rower rowing stroke of just moving the arms forwards and backwards.
Among the most popular rowing machines due to its affordable price, performance and build quality the Stamina is ideal if you want an easy way to work all your major body parts without engaging in impact exercises.
Four feet long and two and a half feet wide the German built Kettle Favorit compact rower is another compact rowing machine that uses hydraulic resistance. Like the two above, it takes up very little space and weighs less than 55 pounds making them easier to move when the need calls for it.
One of the things you’ll notice with the Favorit is it comes with additional padding both on the saddle and the grips, which are two of the three places your body comes in contact with the machine. Because rowing is a sport that requires a lot of repetition the extra comfort really helps in preventing blisters (for the grips) and an uncomfortable bottom (for the seat).
While assembly is estimated at 35 minutes by the manufacturer, it can take a bit more time since the users manual doesn’t come with the most effective instructions. It contains a lot of images which is useful but seems to be a bit lacking in terms of text, which means you’ll need to do some figuring out at times.
The longest among our compact rowing machines at seven and a half feet long, it is compact because while long, it does not take up that much space since it is only 1.5 feet wide and less than 2 feet tall. Unlike the previous compact rowing machines mentioned in this review, which are shorter in length but wider on the sides, this one fits in places that those can’t and vice versa. The real issue now depends on which type of space do you have more available in your room or home.
The reason for the difference is that the Lifespan RW100 is a magnetic rowing machine. Instead of using hydraulic cylinders which are often positioned on the sides of the machine, the magnetic braking system is often located in front of the device causing the difference in length and with. Also because of this instead of pulling two separate oar levers or handles magnetic rowers use a T-bar handle where both hands pull on a single line that’s connected to the braking mechanism hidden in the housing.
Smooth and quiet, it pulls on a 16.5 pound flywheel, has 5 resistance levels and displays number of strokes, time, distance and calories burned. When folded the RW1000, takes up the size of a dining room chair with length of 34 inches, width of 19 inches and 64 inches in height.
Stamina Air Rower
One of the more affordable air rowing machines, the Stamina Air Rowing Machine spans a little less than six and a half feet long. It is one and a half feet wide and less than two feet high. Almost similar in stature as the Lifespan RW1000 above, the major difference between the two is this device uses air resistance. So instead of a magnetic brake, it uses a fan that gets turned as the user pulls on the handle. Wind generated by the flywheels fan blades provides the resistance for the user.
Comparing the two, air rowers get noisier once it reaches a certain speed just like electric fans get louder at higher speeds. Magnetic rowers on the other hand stay quiet all throughout. The other main effect is with wind resistance, how much drag caused by the airflow is related to how much effort you put into rowing, the harder you row the more difficult it gets much like in open water rowing. As for the magnetic brake systems, the machine gives you the same amount of pressure depending on the level setting you put the switch on, which isn’t as realistic from a rowing point of view but may be more appealing for those who want a consistent workout.
Priced at $300, this is a low cost alternative to similar air rowers that often cost closer to $1000. It also does a good job folding up to a much smaller four feet length when it’s time to put it aside.