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Folding Rowing Machines - Foldable Indoor Rowers Fold Up To Save Space

Updated on February 19, 2012

Save Space With A Compact Portable Rower

If you think you have not got either the space or the money to splash out on home exercise equipment then think again.

An indoor rowing machine allows you to exercise all the major muscle groups in both your upper body AND lower body, will give you an excellent low impact cardiovascular strengthening workout and will neither break the bank nor, if you opt for a fold up rowing machine, will it take up masses of space in your home!

Indoor rowing machines allow you to exercise at your own pace and are suitable and easy to use for both those new to rowing and just starting their fitness regime to competitive rowers looking to train indoors.

Choosing the right machine for you can be a little daunting if you do not know what you are looking for however, which is something this guide to indoor rowers and in particular, folding rowers, will hopefully help guide you in the right direction.

Buy The Best - Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine Review

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Gray)
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Gray)

The Concept2 range of indoor rowers are consider by many to be the creme de la creme and for good reason. Concept2 rowing machines are found in gyms everywhere, a testament to their strength and durability and are used by professional teams as well as serious home users across the world.

The Concept2 Model D is a commercial grade rowing machine with a highly durable frame (5 year warranty), 500lb user weight capacity and, as it is designed to withstand commercial gym usage, will provide years of untroubled use in home environment. <P>

The Concept2 Model D Rower easily comes apart in seconds for easy vertical storage saving space (see the video on and has an excellent built in computerized rowing monitor packed with tonnes of useful features - and that's truly 'useful' features and not just gimmicks.

The Concept2 Model D presented here is pretty similar compared to the Concept2 Model E but for a few hundred dollars less you get pretty much the same machine with a few less bells and whistles. Either way, compare these to the competition to see why they are so highly rated.


Portable Fold Up Rowing Machines

If you are looking specifically for a collapsable rowing machine then it is likely you are doing so because space in your home is at a premium and you intend to actually fold up and put away yor chosen piece of rowing exercise equipment at some point, possibly every time you use it.

With that in mind, there are some features which specifically pertain to foldable rowing machines which are going to be something you will want to be particularly aware of and take into consideration before making that all important purchase.

How Heavy Is The My Foldable Rower Of Choice?

There can be quite a difference in weight between one type of indoor rower and the next. Folding indoor rowers are typically designed to be more lightweight then their fixed position counterparts, but that doesn't mean they are all as light as a feather either.

Water rowing machines, for instance, are particularly heavy because of the tank of water that provides the resistance which may be a compromise you can not take. Be sure to check out the weight of the machine especially if any physical condition you may have makes such things as heavy lifting an unwanted prospect.

Most stowable rowing machines come with wheel attachments and hand grips to facilitate the storage of the unit when it is not in use so you'll be more 'wheeling' than lifting it over your head, but it's something to look into.

Best Cheap Folding Rowing Machine

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is a great budget price rower and ideal as an introduction to indoor rowing for those on a budget. The Stamina Bodytrack 1050 rower is a compact rowing machine which uses manual adjustment gas-shock piston resistance to provide a low impact fat burning workout for both the upper and lower body at a price which is right. This compact rower has a small footprint in the first place but can fold up smaller still to just 49 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches and will its light weight and in-built transportation wheels is easy to store away when it is not in use. A computerized fitness monitor provides exercise feedback and motivation including calories burned, speed, distance travelled, time and stroke count. One of the best budget rowing machines at this cheap price range.


How Big Is It When in Use or Folded Up For Storage

 Another consideration is the actual size of the rowing machine folded up or when it is actually being used. Some foldable rowers actually collapse down to a much smaller size than their fully operational footprint, whilst others which might be billed and advertised as being a folding rower, barely change in size at all. Some flatten down which makes them great for under bed storage, others are narrower and can be slid behind a couch or stood up in a cupboard easily.

Folding Rowing Machine Types

Not all fold-away rowing machines are created the same. One of the major differences you will notice immediately when seaching to buy a rowing machine online is the different ways the resistance is provided to the rower. There are four main types of resistance mechanisms and these are: magnetic, air, piston and water as well as a fifth type which is a hybrid combination of air and magnetic resistance. Each of these types have their good and bad points which will be outlined below:

Hydraulic Piston Resistance Folding Rowing Machines

 Piston rowers are the cheapest folding rowing machine type on the market, using hydraulic pistons to provide manually variable resistance to the user. They are generally small, inexpensive and not quite as durable as the other types of folding rower on the market. They do not emulate real water rowing very effectively and the rowing motion itself is not as smooth either. However, their small compact size is appealing to anyone with limited space and folding piston rowing machines offer even more appeal for space conscious consumers. They are also relatively quite when compared to something like an air rower which is also appealing especially to other members of the user's household! Piston rowers are a great introduction to indoor rowing bu may not be to everyone's liking.  

Recommended Piston Rower - HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger Scull Rowing Machine

HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger Scull Rowing Machine
HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger Scull Rowing Machine

This is an outrigger style rowing machine and one of the best hydraulic piston rower machines on the market. The outrigger style simulates real rowing motion, although, piston resistance will never emulate the real feel of water. Two hydraulic cylinders allow you to set resistance incrementally up to 12 levels for the amount of resistance you desire. The Sprint Outrigger Scull rowing machine is also collapsable allowing you to fold it up to a fraction of its footprint for easy storage under a bed etc. A built in computerised console provides feedback and motivation.


Magnetic Resistance Foldable Rowing Machines Compared

 This form of stowable indoor rower uses an electromagnet to provide the user with resistance. This has several advantages which make magentic rowing machines very appealing to home users especially since their price tag also typically comes in below that of air and water rowers.

If you are looking for a quiet rowing machine then magnetic resistance rowers ought to be the first place you look as these are the quietest rowing machines on the market. The lack of friction means they are not only very quiet but also provides a very smooth rowing motion and also potentially less maintenance caused by parts rubbing over time.

Magnetic rowers do not simulate real water rowing well however which makes them unsuitable for competitive rowers or rowing training even if they are great for general fitness needs.

Folding Air Resistance Flywheel Rowing Machines

The arms of this type are attached to a large flywheel which rotates and provides resistance with each stroke. Air rowers emulate real water rowing well as it is the rowers stroke speed which regulates the amount of resistance to that stroke. The harder and faster you pull, the stronger the resistance, just like in real water rowing. The flywheel even replicates the initial 'jerk' as you build up momentum. Air rowers make great training aids for competitive or even hobbyist rowers when they are not actually on the water and provide a smooth, realist rowing experience for simple fitness enthusiasts.

Air rowing does have one major disadvantage for an indoor rowing machine however, and that is the amount of noise it generates. Air rowers are noisy rowing machines, with the faster you row, the louder it gets.

LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine Review

LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine

The RW1000 From Lifespan Fitness is a great foldable air resistance rowing machine with a combined magnetic braking system to offer up to five levels of manual resistance. A 16.5 pound flywheel with patented Eddy Current drive system and no-slack retrieval system ensures the strap is never loose and provides a smooth, uninterrupted rowing stroke.

The RW1000 is solidly built with a strong, sturdy frame backed by a 5 year warrantee and capable of user weights of up to 300lbs. With a standing footprint of 87 x 19 inches, this stowable rowing machine will fold down to just 34 x 19 x 64 inches with built in wheels making it much more stowable when not in use. The RW1000 also features a dashboard rowing monitor to give you feedback on your performance and provide motivation throughout your workout. A great deal for a mid-priced air rower from Amazon.


Fold Away Indoor Water Rowing Machines

Water rowers effectively emulate the real feel of rowing on water, with the resistance being controlled by a manually adjustable tank of water. The harder and faster your pull stroke, the stronger the resistance, just as if you were rowing across a lake or down a river. Fold away water rowing machines do exist but the tank of water makes these the heaviest type of rowing machine out there which might not make them the best choice if you intend to put them away and pull them out all the time.

Water rowing machines are typically amongst the most expensive types and because of their weight and frame strength are usually much better suited to heavier users.

Recommended Water Rowing Machine - ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine Review

HCI Fitness Prorower RX-750 Prorower Indoor Water Rowing Machine
HCI Fitness Prorower RX-750 Prorower Indoor Water Rowing Machine

This ProRower brings a commercial grade water rowing machine to the home user at an affordable price. A polycarbonate water tank with internal rowing blades mimic the feel of actual rowing on water with no need to mess around with resistance adjustments and manual controls. The level of resistance is provided by the water itself just like in real rowing. For a harder workout - row faster. Less strenuous? Row slower. When not in use this water rower will fold away for storage.


Second Hand Used Rowing Machines

If price is one of the major issues standing in the way of you buying one of these excellent fitness machines then there is no reason you can not find a bargain rowing machine on the used and second hand market.

Refurbished and second hand rowing machines are readily available from many online stores including Amazon which has its own second hand rowing machine market, or from auction sites like Ebay where you can also pick up a used foldible rowing machine for less than the retail price, often a lot less.

Buying used does not come without its pitfalls, but if you are careful it is a great way to pick up the best folding rowing machine than you can afford to buy new for a much cheaper price.

How To Buy A Second Hand Rowing Machine

If you are looking to buy a used rowing machine online then there are things to consider which can ensure you get what you pay for. If you shop smart, you can find a real bargain deal on a used foldable rowing machine, so this is definitely an option to consider.

For example, how many people do you know who start a diet or join a gym and then quit after a few weeks or months? The same is true for people buying home gym equipment. All those good intentions end up down the drain and they may have only used their indoor rower a couple of times, which means you effectively get a barely used rower for a fraction of the retail price.

On the other hand, someone may have pounded their machine daily and it might just be on its last legs. The key is to ask these kinds of questions. If you are looking for a used indoor rower offline, on somewhere like Craigslist, then you can see in person how the machine looks (a worn down seat and pedals is a key giveaway to it having seen a lot of use) but online you need to have a list of questions ready.

So, ask the seller questions. Most rowing machine auctions or Amazon marketplace listings come with a description of the item and in the case of ebay with a picture as well, but if some of your questions are not answered by either of these, then be sure to email the seller with your questions, both sites provide a way to do this. Ask about reasons for selling, any defects or problems, age of the machine, how much use it has received etc.


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