It’s hard to believe spring is already here, and if you’re anything like me, the New Year’s resolutions you promised to stick with may no longer be top of mind. If you’re looking for motivation outside of the gym or something to get you moving that doesn’t involve clocking in miles, I found the perfect thing for you: a rowing machine.
I get it: Some of you probably wanted to stop reading after seeing the word “machine.” Another clunky piece of gym equipment that will take up space in my living room and never get used? No thanks!
I hear you, but don’t go just yet. The affordable and adjustable rower I found on Amazon is well worth the investment. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. The bestseller and Shop TODAY reader favorite was featured it in an episode of Shop All Day. (And TODAY hosts even tried it live on the show!)
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine
Keep scrolling to see why this compact rower is such a favorite.
Why a rowing machine?
According to personal trainer Stephanie Mansour, with whom I recently spoke with about the benefits of a rowing machine, it’s one of the best pieces of equipment you can get for a full-body workout. Rowers work your arms, back, hamstrings and quads, and they combine cardio and strength training into one exercise. It’s especially great if you work from home or from a desk since the rowing motions are also known to improve posture muscles.
The price and easy setup are unbeatable
It’s not every day you find a workout machine for right around $100. For that price, I worried about the possibility of receiving something poorly made, but the nearly 8,500 five-star ratings from satisfied customers eased my concerns.
Even though it comes in a large box, it ships through Amazon very quickly. I’ll also add that the machine itself is extremely lightweight. I can even pick it up over my head with ease, which is a totally unnecessary but undeniable way to show just how compact it is.
Everything from setup to use was an absolute breeze. The machine itself already comes put together, except for the handlebar and digital monitor. The brand supplies the bolts, tools and batteries you need to attach them, which took me less than five minutes. It also comes with a thorough instruction manual to help with setup and use, but I didn’t need to spend much time reading through it to figure everything out. (Plus, this equipment is beginner friendly!)
Another huge plus is the rower’s size and portability — which is a key factor for me since I live in a small apartment. The machine fits snuggly off to the side of my living room and can easily be folded up to fit under my bed. My only complaint is that the handlebars don’t fold in as well, which would have made storing it even simpler.
How I use it
Since I moved back to New York City, my fitness routine has really fallen off the wagon. I used to exercise three times a week with free weights along with a daily run to get my cardio in. Now that I’m in a new area and no longer have a stack of weights at my disposal, getting in a short walk here and there has been my main form of exercise for the last couple of months. With that said, this rower has been a great way to ease back into a regular fitness routine.
Mansour suggests using the rower every other day in order to give your muscles time to repair. Since I don’t row often, I’ve been sticking to this guidance, and it’s been working well for me. The rower is built with a hydraulic resistance system, which offers 12 resistance settings that can be adjusted to your personal strength level. (The difficulty of these settings far exceeded my expectations—I was sweating at just level six.)
With each use, I felt my arm and back muscles getting stronger, and my legs always felt the burn as I was rowing. And while I love getting a serious workout in, this is also an extremely relaxing yet productive way to take breaks during long work-from-home days.
The ergonomic seat glides back and forth with ease and is cushioned, which provides more comfort during longer workouts. The entire machine holds up to 220 pounds, which makes it accessible for a wide range of people. It’s also important to note that while this rower is perfect for my size (I’m 5’2 and a half), I imagine someone taller might prefer a little more wiggle room than what the 37-inch slide rail inseam provides.
Another notable feature is the digital monitor, which tracks your total time, rep count and number of calories burned. The monitor itself snaps onto the handlebar and gets plugged in via a cable already attached to the rower. It’s easy to read, but it took me a few minutes to learn how to reset it before each session. (Pro tip: You just hold down the red button.).
Overall, this rowing machine seriously brought a new level of dedication and ease to my 2022 fitness goals. And considering it’s price tag, it blew all my expectations out of the water — it’s far lighter, user-friendly and compact than I had imagined. If you’re looking to elevate your exercise routine, I highly recommend you give it a try, too!
Check out more products that are helping us reach our fitness goals:
Subscribe to our Stuff We Love and One Great Find newsletters, and download our TODAY app to discover deals, shopping tips, budget-friendly product recommendations and more!