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- Hydrow is an at-home rower that offers live and on-demand workout classes, not unlike Peloton.
- Though expensive at $2,500, it’s a premium rower that delivers engaging, full-body cardio workouts.
- I tried Hydrow and was impressed at everything it offered and how motivating and fun it was to use.
The popularity of interactive home workouts is at an all-time high as brands like Peloton and NordicTrack lead the charge with highly effective and widely accessible bikes and treadmills.
But while Peloton helped revolutionize our relationship with the stationary bike, the main nitpick with those machines is how they tend to neglect your upper body. This is where Hydrow comes in, an at-home rower poised to become the Peloton of rowing.
With this $2,500 at-home unit, you can participate in live or on-demand rowing classes led by world-class athletes, all in the comfort of your living room.
Curious about its benefits, and to see if it’s one of the best at-home rowing machines, I tried Hydrow for a month. Here’s how it went.
The Hydrow is an 86-inch-long by 25-inch-wide rowing machine featuring a 22-inch HD touchscreen mounted on the front. The monitor is sweatproof and features Hi-Fi speakers, a two-megapixel camera, a built-in microphone, USB 2.0 connection, and Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.
Here are a few more important specs:
- Aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body
- Soft rubberized feet to protect floors
- Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design
- 1920 by 1080 Full HD screen resolution
- Over 500 pre-recorded river and studio rowing sessions
- Four types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing, Whole Body Fitness
- Quiet, electromagnetic resistance that adjusts 240 times per second
- Heart rate monitoring
- 10-roller seat roller system facilitating a smooth operation
- 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction
- 18-month labor warranty; 2-year warranty on worn items, screen, and other electronics; and a 6-year structural frame warranty
A recurring $38 monthly membership is required to experience the full functionality of the Hydrow (i.e. the streamable classes). This includes live virtual outdoor rows with instructors and athletes (including a selection from the U.S. National Rowing Team), access to a live leaderboard during classes, Hydrow’s full on-demand library, and other exclusive off-machine fitness content.
It has a huge library of motivating classes
To get the most out of my month of testing Hydrow, I challenged my wife to see who could put in the most mileage.
I often opted for Hydrow’s pre-recorded video classes first thing in the morning due mainly to the fact the trainers all had upbeat attitudes. This helped guide my workouts and started my day off on the right foot.
Thankfully, they weren’t annoyingly positive. Their encouragement got me to push a little harder while also focusing on my form.
There are several levels of intensity to choose from and it took a bit of experimentation to figure out which level and workout length were ideal for my exercise needs. I felt the Warm-Up, Breathe, and Sweat videos were light and didn’t get my heart rate going as much as I wanted.
I was instead drawn to the more intense Push videos. The first 20-minute, Push interval session I did really worked out my entire body.
I also enjoyed the real-time leaderboard which compares your distance to the distances rowed by other users at each point of the video. I found it to be an incredibly useful motivating tool.
Although I preferred the interactive classes, some of my wife’s favorite sessions didn’t have live instructors. She liked the Serene River Rowing in which you go through beautiful natural areas and hear nothing but water. There’s still a leaderboard but no one pushes you, so you’re more likely to go at your own pace.
Another impressive aspect was the video streaming quality. There’s nothing worse than having a video freeze in the middle of a guided workout, especially when you’re challenging for the top of the leaderboard. During my testing, the screen froze just once. When this happens, you’re able to just press the help icon on the screen and instantly send feedback to Hydrow.
It’s a large machine which needs its own dedicated area
Perhaps the Hydrow‘s biggest drawback is how big its 15-square-foot size is. I kept it in my living room for the short-term test but over a longer period of time, you’d want it in a dedicated workout area.
You can, however, store the Hydrow vertically. When stored this way, it takes up a 33-inch by 25-inch patch of space. I did this a few times and with the front wheels, it was easy enough for me to move and stand up the 145-pound machine on my own.
To Hydrow‘s credit, the machine is incredibly quiet, which is certainly nice if you live in an apartment with paper-thin walls, or just don’t want to make too much of a racket.
The only time it wasn’t quiet, though, was when I had the resistance cranked up to 100%; I’d hear a knocking sound where the foot pedals met the machine. My wife never experienced this but I weigh 250 pounds, which is 80 pounds more than her, so it might’ve just been a weight issue. Either way, I brought it up to Hydrow who said it’d look to fix it in later models.
The price might also give you a bit of sticker shock. At $2,500, it’s not cheap. But considering Peloton’s new bike has a similar price tag, I’d say it’s comparable. You’re also getting a full-body workout as opposed to strictly cardio.
Hydrow’s base price doesn’t include the $38 monthly membership fee, which does make the final price a bit higher than what’s advertised. Depending on how often you’d use the machine, an ongoing subscription might be an unnecessary and sunk cost — or a financial motivator.
Should you buy it?
Yes. At a comparable price to the Peloton, the Hydrow gives you a full-body workout. Plus, with its software updates, a new app, and constant improvements, Hydrow has demonstrated it’s committed to producing a top-quality experience.
Overall, I loved Hydrow. So much so that I was sad when the technicians came to take it away. If I had $2,500 to put toward my physical fitness, I’d buy the Hydrow today. It’s a fun, effective way to get a full-body workout and despite the fact it took up a lot of space in my home, I still found a way to make it work.