Hydrow Indoor Rower Review 2022: We Tried It
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My previous boating experience was limited to summer canoeing at Girl Scout camps in the early '90s, but Hydrow made me feel like I was ready to race Charles.
The Hydrow is a sleek, low-profile rowing machine that uses patented electromagnetic technology to simulate drag so you feel like you're really on the water.
It has a built-in 22″ (56 cm) touchscreen display that provides streaming workouts filmed on water around the world.
I'm Sarahyn Ward, Fitness Editor at Healthline.
To be honest, rowing has never been my favorite sport. First off, I live inland Colorado, so paddling on the water isn't really an option.
In the gym I always find the ergometer clunky and loud (“Hi everyone, I'm working out!”), and I never want to be noticed on the cardio floor.
So, prior to getting the Hydrow, my boating experience was limited to weekend kayaking trips to college (a quick way to complete all required physical education credits) and my summer vacation at Girl Scout camp – which wasn't exactly Material for me to race sailing.
The Hydrow is long and slender. I'm actually quite surprised how little space it requires.
It measures 86″ (218cm) long, 25″ (63cm) wide and 47″ (119cm) high. It weighs 145 pounds, but the wheels make it fairly easy to move.
In fact, with the Vertical Storage Conversion Kit, you can even store the Hydrow vertically.
That's where the reviews get less bullish – the price for the Hydrow is high. You can expect to spend over $2,000 on this machine.
Then, there are other accessories to consider on the company's website. These include:
- High-Performance Foam Roller ($40)
- Yoga Block ($30)
- Multipurpose Gym Mat ($80)
- Heart Rate Monitor ($90)
- Wireless Headphones ($150)
- Machine Pad ($90)
- Upright Storage Kit ($80)
- Multi-resistance band kit ($100)
If you're interested in Hydro plus accessories, you might want to consider the company's preset packs.
For example, the essentials package listed on the Hydrow website includes a machine, machine mat, heart rate monitor, and 1:1 personal coaching. It will cost you $2,625 at launch.
When deciding if this fits your budget, don't forget that you'll also spend $38 a month or $456 a year for a Hydrow membership that sends workouts to your machine or mobile app.
good news? You can create multiple profiles with one membership, so both my husband and I can get in on our workouts and track our progress individually.
For someone who has never rowed for fitness, I found it easy to start with a Hydrow. It's a far cry from the rowing machines I remember using at the gym — even those that had actual water in the pulley system.
The seats are upholstered comfortably, towing feels like you're really in the water, and the machine is quiet and smooth.
Working out on the Hydrow feels great, and I honestly find myself looking forward to my rowing workout. They are challenging – did you know that rowing uses up 86% of your muscles? !
But while rowing is an aerobic exercise that makes you sweat, the impact of this workout is still minimal, and it feels like strength training for my core, legs, upper back, and shoulders. Working out on the Hydrow strikes a good balance between accessibility and challenge.
In fact, after using the Hydrow regularly for about a month, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a ski accident, and after the swelling subsided a few weeks later, I went back to the Hydrow for my pre-surgery rehab.
When you first start, Hydrow prompts you to learn proper technique, understand on-screen metrics, and get used to the prompts with three simple exercises.
These workouts, while very useful and necessary, don't really give you an accurate indication of how you'll feel when you enter your workout library. At first, I even wondered if Hydrow would raise my heart rate, but I seriously (pun intended) misunderstood.
Once I start experimenting with all the options in the library, I'm excited to go back to Hydrow again and again. New workouts are added every day, ranging from 59-minute “journey” lines (without a trainer) to 15-minute yoga and pilates mat workouts to 5-minute cooldowns and plank challenges.
Most rowing workouts with Hydrow athletes (coaches) last 15 or 20 minutes, which is perfect for a busy parent like me or someone who does a mix-and-match custom workout. Also, the scenery is breathtaking.
From New Orleans to the iconic Charles River, from Lake Winnipesaukee to Miami Beach, and everywhere in between, you'll be paddling everywhere. I saw some places that inspired me in real life (anyone know camping on Apache Lake in Arizona?).
Another thing I like is that the Hydrow Athlete is refreshing. They didn't read from the script, and the workout wasn't overly productive.
Sometimes athletes tell personal stories or wear mismatched socks, and sometimes they veer off course (literally) and have to adjust the boat. Many were professional or college rowers, and they were upbeat and engaging.
I would say, there isn't a lot of diversity in the lineup of athletes. Nice to meet some older coaches.
I no longer have an ID when buying wine these days (bye 30s), so I would love to see someone like me at the helm, so to speak. Knowing that someone older than me is pushing their split time motivates me a little more.
That said, Hydro has a leaderboard feature that lets you see who you're racing against. You can filter the leaderboard view to show people of your gender and age, so you can see where you stand. Plus, you can even interact with and follow other Hydrow members through the app.
While the machine itself isn't portable, the app clearly is. For those who love to travel and want a trainer to tell them what to do, a 15-minute intensive workout on the app is a great way to stay fit anywhere.
In full disclosure, I didn't expect to love the Hydrow as much as I do. It makes exercising fast, effective and fun, and I sincerely look forward to using it.
But what really proves how awesome it is? The Hydrow is the first gym equipment my husband uses every day – when you marry a fitness editor who brings home a lot of gear, it says something.
Since I've known him, my husband has only liked sports where it involves chasing the ball. Now, he rowed every day after the kids went to bed. So, I want to thank Hydrow for keeping our family healthy.
Absolutely. I'll be back at Hydrow again in a day or two. I look forward to seeing what new workouts drop.
If you have the money to spend, the Hydrow is worth the money. On the Hydrow, you'll get a better upper body and core workout than on a stationary bike, and it takes up far less space than a treadmill.
What's more, you can get more variety from your workout than other cardio machines like the elliptical machine or stair climber, and core work alone can immediately benefit your daily activity and function.
If you're considering the Hydrow, you won't be disappointed.
Hydrow was founded in 2017. Although a relatively young company, it has already secured a celebrity following as investors including Whitney Cummings, Aaron Rodgers and Travis Kelce. Comedian Kevin Hart was even named creative director.
Although it is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, it has a B+ rating from the organization. According to the group, it has closed eight complaints in the past three years and five in the past 12 months.
The Hydrow also received an “Excellent” rating from Trustpilot. With 9,177 reviews, it has a 4.7 out of 5 stars. Of these star ratings, 84% were rated 5 out of 5, and less than 3% were rated 2 out of 5 or 1 out of 5.
Wondering how Hydrow stands out from the competition? Here's a quick breakdown:
Can I use Hydrow without a membership?
If you don't have a membership, you can use Hydrow in Just Row mode. In this mode, you'll be able to adjust resistance levels, view Hydro 101 and introductory materials, use on-screen rowing metrics during workouts, and connect only Bluetooth for a heart rate monitor.
You need a membership to access pre-recorded and live workouts, music, any stored progress records (you can't save current results either), weekly challenges, and access to leaderboards.
One thing to keep in mind is that even Just Row mode requires internet access and a working power outlet.
How does Ergatta compare to Hydrow?
Both the Ergatta and the Hydrow are high-end rowing machines. While Hydrow focuses on individual training and coaching, Ergatta's approach is more focused on competition.
Perhaps the biggest physical difference between the two machines is that the Ergatta uses waterproofing, while the Hydrow uses magnetic resistance. This means that you don't choose a specific resistance level on Ergatta as you do on Hydrow. Instead, the speed at which you row will naturally increase or decrease the resistance you feel.
For a more detailed look at how these two rowing machines compare, you can check out the chart above.
Is the Hydrow easy to move?
The Hydrow has two front wheels, allowing one person to move short distances with relative ease. For longer moves, an unboxed assembler weighs about 145 lbs (66 kg and can be lifted by two people. If you just want to move the display for a workout on the floor, it will rotate without moving) machine.
Can you play music on Hydrow?
Unfortunately, you won't be able to play your own music on the Hydrow. It is currently not suitable for receiving audio from your phone or third-party applications such as Spotify or Pandora.
I give Hydrow two thumbs up. As someone who hasn't rowed a lot before, I'm surprised how much I like it. Now I am a convert. If you need me, I'll be in my basement at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, imagining myself on open water.
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