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Foldable Rowing Machines - Folding Rowing Machine Reviews

Updated on July 5, 2014

Fold Up Rowing Machine Guide

Indoor rowing machines combine both an upper and lower body workout in just the one piece of home exercise equipment. Approximately 70% of the workout is concentrated in shaping, toning and strengthening the legs, thighs, butt and other areas of the lower body with the remaining 30% going into doing the same for your upper body. Most pieces of exercise equipment work on just one body area, for example treadmills, exercise bikes, steppers and stair climbers which makes an indoor rowing machine an ideal fitness machine for people with limited space and budget requirements. Better still, many rowing machines fold up for you to stow away when they are not in use and those really make it easy for home users to have their home gym without sacrificing floor space to a bulky piece of equipment.

Best Cheap Folding Rowing Machine - Recommended Budget Foldable Rowing Machine Review

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

This is a great budget folding rowing machine which comes at an unbeatable discount price from Amazon. The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is a portable compact rowing machine which features a wonderfully small footprint of just 23.5 x 46 inches without compromising on comfort or ease of use. In addition to the small size, this compact indoor rower can also fold up for easy storage, ready to be wheeled away on the built-in wheels to a storage closet, slid under a bed etc. The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 offers a rowing action which mimics real rowing rather than a simple pull bar which many other machine feature and hasa built in rowing and performance monitor which gives feedback on such things as speed, time, distance covered, stroke count and calories burned which is a great training and motivational aid. A study steel frame, comfortable padded seat and 250lb weight capacity rounds off an excellent deal at this price.


Chosing A Folding Rowing Machine

Are They Worth The Money Or A Shoddy Gimmick

Many people who want to get in shape feel they do not have the space in which to work out in their own home. Ultimately, many will either put aside exercising altogether, or join a real gym which can become both expensive and a hassle to get to and make time for. Many of us simply do not want to work out in front of other people in the first place and that's where a home gym can be great - but hard to devote space to.

That's where folding rowing machines and similar forms of compact exercise equipment come in.

A collapsable rowing machine offers just the same features as a traditional fixed frame machine without you needing to permanently devote the room to a sometimes bulky piece of equipment. Indoor rowers are generally much smaller than many other forms of gym equipment in the first place and there are some great compact rowers which do not fold down which still take up minimal floor space, but to truly reclaim your space it's nice to be able to store it away in a closet or under a bed etc.

A good folding indoor rowing machine should be just as sturdy and durable as a fixed frame model these days and provide you many years of happy usage whilst saving you space into the bargain.

Top Recommended Folding Rowing Machine

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

Concept2 rowing machines are believed by many to be the best indoor rowing machines on the market today. Packed with innovative features on the dashboard, commercial quality design and a brand name which is used in many commercial gyms, rowing clubs as well as by home rowers who want the best, the Concept2 Model D is excellent value for the money.


Choosing The Right Foldable Rowing Machine

How To Pick The Right Indoor Rower

Once you have decided a rowing machine is the right choice of fitness machine for your needs you'll start looking at all the various models out there...and probably come up with a whole lot of questions about the various types, styles, sizes and features manufacturers have decided to offer us.

Asking questions is a good thing because this will allow you to find a rowing machine which fits exactly what you want which will ultimately save you from either making a costly mistake by buying a rowing machine online which does not do all the things you want or save you money by allowing you to find the ideal machine without jumping on the top of the line model full of bells and whistles you'll never need.

The following are some of the things which you should definitely consider when buying an indoor rower in order to find the machine which is perfect for you.

Rowing Machines Compared

The different types of rowing machine

The first thing you will probably notice when looking at online rowing machine stores and sites which review or sell indoor rowers, is that there are a few different ways in which rowing machines provide the resistance to simulate the effect of rowing on water. These are split into four main types of simulated rowing machine:

1. Piston or Hydraulic

2. Magnetic

3. Air or Flywheel

4. Water

Each of these types of rowing machine have various pros and cons which may or may not make one or the other more suitable to your personal needs and fitness goals.

Hydraulic Resistance Piston Rowing Machines

This kind of indoor rower uses hydraulic pistons to provide the resistance required for your workout. Piston rowing machines are typically less expensive to buy than the other types of rower out there so if you see a cheap rowing machine it is probably using piston resistance.

This type of rower does not simulate real rowing very well so if you want the real feel of rowing on water than these machines are probably not going to provide what you want.

Piston rowing machines are however a great introduction to rowing and are often some of the more compact rowers out there which makes them great for people on a limited budget. They are also the only type of indoor rower which allows you to work out one arm at a time independently.

Recommended Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machines - Some of the best rated hydraulic indoor rowers

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms

This compact rowing machine is an excellent addition to any home where space is at a premium. The moderate footprint of this small rowing machine measures at around 32.5 by 48 inches and weighs just 47 pounds making it a great little rower machine and at a price that's right. In addition to its small size, this compact indoor rower has fold up arms to reduce its compact size even further for even easier storage. Smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance with adjustable tension, a comfortable padded seat and adustable pivoting foot plates combined with a multifunction computer feedback monitor round off a nice little rower at a good price.

Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower

For a budget rowing machine without the bells and whistle but at a price we can all appreciate, the Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is a cheap rowing machine likely to fit your needs. The Stamina Precision rower is very much a basic rowing machine utlilizing hydraulic piston resistance and a limited feedback monitor, but if you're self motivated and just want to row and go without spending a fortune, then you can't do better than this low price.

Kettler Home Exercise/Fitness Equipment: Favorit Rowing Machine
Kettler Home Exercise/Fitness Equipment: Favorit Rowing Machine

The Kettler Favorit is a good, sturdy indoor rowing machine. Rowing resistance is provided by manually adjustable hydraulic cylinders which provide continuous resistance to the degree you set. A nice onboard computer provides useful feedback on such things as time, speed of stroke, length of stroke, distance travelled etc. which helps you keep track of and improve upon your rowing machine workout and meet your fitness goals.


Magnetic Folding Rowing Machines

Electromagnetic Indoor Rowers

These rowing machines use powerful electromagnets to provide the resistance to create a harder or softer workout. Foldable magnetic rowing machines typically offer a very smooth rowing motion, have manual or automatically adjustable resistance and are in the lower to mid-level price range making them affordable for most budgets.

The really nice thing about magnetic rowers is the resistance is frictionless which not only gives them their smooth rowing action but also makes magnetic rowers the quietest rowing machine type with the resistance itself being virtually soundless. If you share a household with others, like to watch TV or listen to music while working out, live in an apartment or have thin walls and grumpy neighbors then this can be an invaluable feature as other rowing machine types (air rowers especially) can be pretty noisy.

Electric magnetic rowing machines can vary the resistance automatically through built in rowing monitors which allow for custom workout routines to keep the exercise interesting. Some machines have this, others do not so if this is a feature of interest, be sure to check out what kind of preprogrammed workout routines are available.

The drawback of a fold-away magnetic rowing machine is they do not simulate real rowing as well as air or water rowers so for serious rowers and anyone using an indoor rowing machine for real water rowing training these are not going to be the model of choice.

Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine Recommendations - Some reviews of magnetic indoor rowing machines

Lifecore R88 Rowing Machine
Lifecore R88 Rowing Machine

The Lifecore R88 rower is an affordable fitness club quality rowing machine for your home gym. This home rowing machine features a combination of air and magnetic resistance which is adjustable up to 8 levels thorugh the onboard computer monitor interface. This sturdy, well built rowing machine has a maximum user weight of 300 pounds with a lifetime warrantee on frame and 2 years on parts for your peace of mind. Folds up for easy storage.

LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine

Features a smooth and quite eddy current drive system with magnetic braking resistance with manual adjustment up to 5 levels and a no slack retrieval system to ensure the rowing strap is never slack. Footprint reduced dramatically when folded up from 87 by 19 by 23 inches (L x W x H) this rowing machine folds up to 34 by 19 by 64 inches (L x W x H) saving space and making it easily storable.. At a price below $500 this comfortable quiet rowing machine is excellent value and has great reviews from customers too.


Air Rowing Machines Compared

Flywheel Rowers and Combined Air Magnetic Machines

Air rowers use a flywheel attached to fan blades to simulate real water rowing and provide resistance. The faster your stroke speed, the more resistance is provided, just like water rowing.

Air rowing machines are generally long which allows for a more fluid rowing stroke and might make them more comfortable for taller users. Whilst there are folding air rowing machines out there, the longer central frame often means they do not fold down to be as compact as some of the alternatives. Air rowers do however provide a rowing experience which more accurately emulates real rowing which makes them great for anyone who either desires a more realist feel to their indoor rowing or for rowing training.

Many users also enjoy the cooling effect of the fan although these are by far and away the noisiest rowing machines and the noise increases the faster you row. Some models feature a mix of air and magnetic rowing machines which helps cut the noise levels at faster speeds. The combined air / magnetic rowing machine switches to magnetic resistance at faster speeds to quiet things down a bit which makes them more pleasant for home users.

Water Rowing Machines

Waterrowers Compared

Water resistance rowing machines use a tank full of water to provide resistance. To vary the resistance here you can add to or reduce the amount of water in the reservoir as you choose. Waterrowers emulate and simulate real rowing accurately like air resistance rowing machines but are much less noisy - in fact, many users claim to like the sloshing water sound they produce. Water rowers are typically some of the more sturdy and heavy duty models out there and have some of the highest maximum user weights. Folding water rowing machines are out there but water rowers are also typically pretty heavy and may not be a great option for being constantly moved around.

Water Resitance Rowing Machine Reviews - Some of the top rated water rowers on Amazon

First Degree Fitness WR-N Neptune Rower
First Degree Fitness WR-N Neptune Rower

Designed to accurately replicate the real feel of rowing on water but in the comfort of your own home. This indoor water rower features a precision rowing action designed so you only feel the fluid resistance and nothing else which gives a smooth rowing experience. The water tank is variably adjustable from 9 to 17 liters to give more or less fluid resistance or a tougher or lighter workout as you desire. The onboard monitor gives feedback and goals to to both monitor performance and motivate to real higher goals.

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

A commercial grade rowing machine at a home user price. This high-quality rowing machine features an innovative Hydro-Power Drive system, tough polycarbonate water tank with an internal paddle system designed to mimic the real feel of actual rowing on water. An outsized, easy to read monitor display tracks time, distance, calories etc. giving feedback on your workout and allowing you to better reach goals and monitor your workout progress. Need space? This rowing machine folds for storage to give you extra room.


Rowing Machine Bike Combination

Rower Fitness Bike Combo Machines

If you have limited space in your home gym for bulky fitness equipment then there are some very innovative solutions you can buy in order to get the most out of your liited space. If you have compared rowing machines to exercise bikes in terms of whether you want one or the other because your space is limited then look no further because there is a solution for you which means you do not have to compromise. A rowing machine bike is a combination rowing machine and exercise bike all in the one unit. You get the best of both worlds and it doesn't take up any more space than buying just the single machine. A rowing machine bike combined together in one piece of exercise equipment offers a combined upper and lower body workout and is perfect for those with limited space.

Best Bike Rowing Machine Combinations - Some Recommended Rowing bike combined machines

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower

The Stamina Conversion II bike rowing machine combo is an excellent bike rower for those with limited space. Not only does this combined recumbent bike and rowing machine receive excellent reviews from its users but it will also fold down for easy storage making this an ideal piece of indoor exercise equipment for anyone without the space for a dedicated home gym. The Stamina Conversion 2 recumbent bike rower looks just like a standard rowing machine but the comfortable padded rowing seat easily converts into a recumbent bike seat with back support allowing you to use the rotating pedals for a indoor bike workout. This convertable rowing bike uses smooth magnetic resistance to provide adjustable resistant force and has a built in electric monitor which keeps track of such things as speed, calories burned, pulse rate and more to help you get the best workout. This is a great convertable rowing machine bike combination and at a price that's right.


Rowing Machine Computer Console and Workout Programs

The essential and non-essential bits

Some rowing machines come with no workout console, others with the bare bones and some with more bells and whistles than anyone could ever possibly need. Finding what suits you is a matter of personal choice but its nice to know what's out there and what the benefits of a workout console might be.

A workout console computer provides feedback on your rowing which can be an unnecessary price hike or an invaluable motivator depending on who you are. Basic workout monitors can provide feedback like heart rate monitoring, rowing speed, distance travelled and an approximation of calories burned during a routine.

More advanced models may offer such things as training programs with features like interval training and heart-rate controlled workouts which can push you towards your goals.

Consider what you personally would find useful and decide from there if you want or need a fancy control panel or a stripped down bare bones rowing machine and you can save yourself some disappointment.

How To Use A Rowing Machine YouTube Videos - Guide To Effective Indoor Rowing Video

To get the most out of your indoor home rowing machine you need to learn how to use it effectively. The following workout video guides to using a rowing machine safely on YouTube show you how to learn the best technique, safe practices and get the best all over body workout from your home or gym rowing equipment.

Reader Feedback

Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Thanks- I'm not sure I'll pull the trigger yet but this is just the kind of rower comparison I was looking for!

  • darciefrench lm profile image

    darciefrench lm 

    6 years ago

    I recently joined a gym down the street - I love the rowing machine, it's hands down my favorite exercise machine

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Very nice article! Squidlike

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I need these for my room! Great reviews and thanks!

  • greenmind profile image

    GreenMind Guides 

    7 years ago from USA

    good-looking lens. nice work!

  • mihgasper profile image

    Miha Gasper 

    7 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

    I need something like this to get back in shape. Thank you for sharing!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Nice selection here. Blessed.

  • ClassyGals profile image

    Cynthia Davis 

    7 years ago from Pittsburgh

    I love using a rowing machine! Great info!


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