We said it before and we’ll say it again: the best rowing machines are the gym’s most underrated piece of equipment. Seriously, it’s a full-body workout that cooks your core and burns your lungs. But it’s also low-impact, meaning it’s a great workout for young bucks and the washed alike. And it’s worth considering adding to your home gym—or living room.
Yes, they look bulky and clunky, but thankfully they don’t take up as much space as you might think. A new wave of innovative companies has made huge strides in making these semi-portable—and nice-looking enough that you might not even feel the need to put it away when you’ve got company. And while the best rowing machines are a bigger investment than, say, running shoes or some free weights, once you drop that initial cash you might be able to skip the gym membership. Just you and the silent whirr of modern design.
Best Overall Rowing Machine: Ergatta
There’s a reason everyone, including GQ, raves about the Ergatta. It’s a beautiful machine at a fair price. And the overall experience is centered on the athlete: Rather than simply prescribe workouts or offer classes, the Ergatta’s calibration system tailors workouts specifically to your fitness level. If you’re a cyclist who loves the gamification of Zwift, you’ll love the virtual regattas on Ergatta.
Best Rowing Machine for Peloton Fanatics: Hydrow
Dare we say it, but it’s basically Peloton for rowing. It’s a heavy duty, commercial gym-worthy rowing machine complete with a bright-ass HD screen, and a monthly fee gets you constantly updating workouts. If you’d rather stick with the native programming, there are 3,000 workouts in the app, including rowing 101 with 2004 Olympian Aquil Abdullah.
Best Affordable Rowing Machine: Schwinn Crewmaster
Curious about rowing? This no-frills Schwinn is a perfect way to test your mettle without making a massive investment. It’s not as design-forward as other options, but it’s a user-friendly compact model that gets the job done.
Best Hardcore Rowing Machine: Concept 2 RowErg
You maybe have noticed that hardcore rowers tend to refer to these machines as an “erg.” This bare-bones setup is what they have in mind, and it’s really all you need in a rowing machine even if you’re not training for the Head of the Charles. No video screen, no subscription required—just a serious workout.
Best Heavy-Duty Rowing Machine: Assault Rower Elite
If you love the Assault Bikes you’ll find in every CrossFit gym in America, this is the rower for you. Made by the same company, the massively overbuilt AssaultRower will fit in nicely next to your squat rack, kettlebells, and TRX straps.