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The Hydrow is an interactive rowing machine. Like other smart home gym equipment, the Hydrow allows users to participate in live streaming workouts from the comfort of home, with a subscription.

Interactive home exercise equipment is becoming increasingly popular.

Rowing is a full body exercise. It works muscles of the upper and lower body while strengthening the cardiovascular system. Rowing machines can offer people of all ages and physical abilities the chance to work out regularly from the privacy and security of home.

This article takes an in-depth look at the Hydrow rowing machine and its features. It also lists some alternatives that people may want to consider.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and was correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

The Hydrow is a rowing machine with a 22-inch (in), high-definition touch screen display. The manufacturers claim that it can deliver a live, on-river rowing experience at home.

Unlike other companies that sell workout equipment, Hydrow focuses entirely on rowing machines.

Features

Rowers helped design the machine to create an authentic on-the-water workout experience. The manufacturers state that the Hydrow has:

  • a live outdoor reality experience via live and on-demand workouts
  • an extensive library with a wide variety of workout content
  • a leaderboard and active community, encouraging competition and engagement
  • reactive electromagnetic resistance that is frictionless and quiet

Specifications

The Hydrow has the following specs and features:

  • front-facing speakers
  • a patented drag mechanism
  • silent strokes
  • a 10-roller seat
  • foot bed adjustment
  • a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, with full high definition

The rower has built-in wheels, so a person can move it freely around the house. It also folds up for neat storage, though anyone planning to store it vertically must buy an upright storage kit.

The dimensions of the Hydrow when in use are:

  • length: 86 in
  • width: 25 in
  • height: 47 in

The dimensions of the Hydrow in storage are:

  • width: 25 in
  • depth: 33 in
  • height: 86 in

The company’s website has a user’s manual in English, Spanish, and French.

Cost

At the time of writing, the Hydrow machine cost $2,495. The following bundles are also available:

  • Hydrow Basics Package: $2,560. This includes the Hydrow machine and a mat.
  • Hydrow Essentials Package: $2,625. This includes the Hydrow machine, a mat, and a heart rate monitor.
  • Hydrow Launch Package: $2,765. This includes:
    • the Hydrow machine
    • a mat
    • a heart rate monitor
    • a foam roller
    • wireless headphones
  • Hydrow Works Package: $2,895. This includes:
    • the Hydrow machine
    • a mat
    • a heart rate monitor
    • yoga accessories
    • resistance bands

To access the workout content, a person also needs to have a Hydrow membership subscription, which costs $38 per month.

According to its makers, the Hydrow uses patented technology to provide a smooth rowing workout. It mimics the feel of rowing on a river with the help of electromagnetic, computer-controlled resistance and a 10-roller system.

As with any rowing machine, using the correct rowing technique is essential:

  1. Straighten the back and tighten the core, then push back with the lower body.
  2. Use the upper back to pull the hands toward the chest.
  3. Return to the starting position by releasing the arms and bending the knees.

The company recommends exercising with shoes on and the feet strapped in.

The machine is Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled, and it has built-in speakers. Its large monitor can swivel up to 25 degrees, both left and right, to accommodate people doing machine and floor-based classes.

Via the high-resolution screen, people can access a range of sessions and features, including:

  • live workouts
  • on-demand workouts
  • scenic rowing workouts in real destinations
  • mat workouts, such as yoga, Pilates, and strength training options

The machine is compatible with the Hydrow app, which enables users to work out on the go and check in on their progress. People can use the app even if they do not have the rowing machine.

Hydrow’s website says that the equipment is suitable for people of any fitness level who want the experience of outdoor exercise at home. Rowing helps burn calories, build muscles, and improve cardiovascular fitness.

Indoor rowing is likely to be a safe and effective exercise for people with limited vision. A 2015 study looked at the effects of rowing 5 days a week for 6 weeks in people with low vision. It found that the participants experienced a decrease in fat mass and cholesterol levels, as well as improved physical fitness.

A 2020 study noted that home gym equipment was useful for people who needed to self-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pros

  • quiet and easy to use
  • access to an app for workouts
  • a variety of streaming workouts
  • exercises that target a wide range of muscle groups
  • access to coaches
  • access to a community

Cons

  • costly initial outlay and ongoing payments
  • incompatibility with Apple Watch or third-party devices
  • non-adjustable muscle volume during workouts
  • the need for an additional kit for upright storage

Hydrow has a 4.7 out of 5 review rating on Trustpilot.

Some customers describe smooth operation, easy-to-follow interactive videos, and encouragement to work out regularly.

Positive reviews also praise the company’s customer support members and the variety of exercises that the membership provides.

Others report delayed orders and a lack of in-home assembly due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Better Business Bureau gives Hydrow a 1 out of 5 rating. However, this is based on only one review, which reflects that the buyer did not receive the correct delivery timing updates.

The table below shows how the Hydrow compares with other indoor rowing machines:

HydrowNordicTrack RW900Concept2 RowErgSunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge Water Rowing Machine Rower
Product width25 in when in use22 in24 in22 in when in use
Product length86 in when in use86.5 in96 in80 in when in use
Product height47 in when in use50.4 in14 or 20 in, depending on the version34 in when in use
Foldableyesyesyesyes
Maximum user weight375 pounds (lb)250 lbConcept2 advertises the maximum as 500 lb, but the European Stationary Fitness Equipment Testing Standard reports the maximum as 300 lb300 lb
Warranty5 years for the frame and storage kit, and 12 months for other components and labor10 years for the frame, 2 years for parts, and 1 year for labor2 or 5 years, depending on the version3 years for the frame and 180 days for other parts
Equipment pricestarting from $2,495$1,599starting from $900starting from $499.98

Regular physical activity is vital for good health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people aim for either 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

Rowing is a low-impact activity, making it ideal for people just starting to work out.

Building muscle

Research suggests that rowing is a beneficial total body workout because it uses multiple muscle groups. The rowing stroke comprises 65–75% leg work and 25–35% upper body work.

Rowing targets the following major muscle groups:

  • upper back
  • chest
  • obliques
  • abdominal muscles
  • arms
  • glutes
  • quadriceps
  • calves

Improving overall fitness

Rowing is a cardiovascular exercise, meaning that it raises the body’s heart and respiration rates and increases blood flow. As such, rowing can be a great way to strengthen the heart and lungs.

Research also suggests that rowing is among the gym activities that burn the most calories.

Physical and mental health benefits

The Hydrow offers live workouts so that users can train or compete with others. A 2017 study suggests that participating in regular group fitness classes can help improve physical, mental, and emotional health.

An older study from 2012 notes that exercising with a virtual partner may help improve aerobic performance. This finding is consistent with other research, indicating that people improve their performance best when competing.

There is also evidence that online group exercise sessions may help boost motivation and encourage people to work out when they are less accustomed to it. This may be because people are less likely compare themselves to others and lose motivation when the class is virtual.

Risks

As with any type of exercise, proper form is essential. While rowing is a low-impact activity, it can still cause injury.

According to a study from 2015, 25–81% of rowers report lower back injuries. Other common sites of injury include the knees and ribs.

People with existing back problems may be more likely to develop lower back pain.

Below, find answers to some common questions about Hydrow:

Is Hydrow good for weight loss?

A 2015 study found that using a rowing machine can help improve physical fitness, reduce fat mass, and lower cholesterol levels.

Can you use a Hydrow without the membership?

A person can use the machine without buying the membership. In this case, a person can only use the “Just Row” mode, which includes:

  • introductory material
  • adjustable resistance
  • on-screen metrics
  • Bluetooth connection for a heart rate monitor

What makes the Hydrow better than a traditional rowing machine?

The following features help distinguish Hydrow from more basic machines:

  • a computer-guided system that creates resistance depending on how hard a person is rowing
  • the option to choose the resistance drag level
  • access to instructor-led workouts
  • a maximum user weight of 375 lb, which is higher than those of most traditional rowing machines

The Hydrow is an interactive rowing machine. Its manufacturers claim that it offers live, on-river rowing experiences at home.

Rowing works multiple muscle groups, and it provides a great cardiovascular workout. Compared with traditional rowing machines, the Hydrow has interactive features that may help users maintain their motivation to exercise.

However, the Hydrow machine is relatively expensive. People may get similar benefits from traditional and less expensive machines.