If you haven’t noticed, rowing has become a hot, new trend this year in the fitness world. While indoor rowing has been around since 1872, it has recently gained a whole new level of credibility thanks to the adaptation of smart exercise equipment and programming.
Indoor rowing is no longer the boring slog that it used to be. Today, you can experience an incredible, full-body workout from the comfort of your own home while engaging with an instructor and community. These are just a few benefits smart indoor rowing machines provide us, which we'll discuss here shortly!
In this article, I’m comparing three home rowers, CityRow Go Max, Concept 2, and NordicTrack RW600. Which rowing machine is the best choice for you? I’m comparing all three machines, lining them up head-to-head to give you the important stats you need to make an informed decision.
What to Look For When Choosing a Smart Rowing Machine for Your Home Gym
When it comes to rowers or any fitness equipment, it’s important to understand what to look out for before you make a purchasing decision because not all machines are created equal. Each machine has its own unique features and benefits that may or may not appeal to you, and when it comes to your personal fitness, it’s important that you make sure you choose a method that’s convenient, fun, and sustainable so that you can get the best results.Speaking of results, did you know that rowing is one of the best forms of cardio exercise you can perform? Rowing requires high aerobic and anaerobic capacity and recruits up to 86% of the body’s muscles. Compare that to the muscle recruitment in other traditional cardio workouts like cycling and running and it’s easy to see why more and more people are jumping on the indoor rowing trend.
Investing in an indoor rowing machine is good for you if you're looking for:
If you’re interested in investing in a smart rower for your home gym, here’s what to look out for:
Type of resistance
There are a handful of different types of resistance to choose from; air, water, and magnetic are the most common these days. There’s no right or wrong type of resistance, it really just depends on what experience you want. Water rowers give you a more realistic feeling of being on the water. Regardless, all of these types of resistance will give you a smooth, cohesive row.
If you’re like me, you need to sneak around a little bit while your family sleeps so that you can get in a workout without waking them. If that’s the case, then finding a quiet machine is a necessity. Water rowers tend to be the quietest option, with air rowers being the noisiest.
Size and ease of storage
If you’re limited on space, then the last thing you want is a bulky machine taking up half of your living room. Some rowers are more compact than others, and some even fold up and store vertically when not in use.
Home workouts and equipment today are all about the experience, and that’s where smart gym equipment comes into play. With a built-in screen and dedicated programming, you can take live and on-demand rowing classes on your own schedule and from the comfort of your own home, all while connecting with and competing against others.
Dedicated apps & additional workouts
Along with smart machines comes their subscription-based apps which come with a library of workouts to choose from, which often include off-rower workouts, too. If you want an all-in-one workout system, then choosing a model that comes with extensive programming and cross-training is going to give you the most bang for your buck.
Now that you have a few considerations in mind to think about as you navigate finding the right indoor rower for you, let’s see how the CityRow Go Max, Concept2 Model D, and the Nordictrack RW600 compare.
Comparing Nordictrack RW600 Rower vs Concept2 Model D vs CityRow Go Max
$900 on their website, but you have to join a wait list, or, $1,600 at amazon.
10 years for the frame, 2 years on parts, 1-year labor
Limited 2 year and 5-year included
5 years for the frame, 3 years for the non-electronic components, and 1-year for the tablet
Silent magnetic resistance & adjustable air
Water for smooth, realistic feels
10” smart HD touchscreen
Small digital button screen (not HD, not touchscreen)
19.5” sweat-resistant screen
Yes, iFit $39 per month
Yes, $29 per month
The table above demonstrates some of the key differences and similarities between these three rowers. By now you likely have a good idea of which one sounds the most appealing to you, but let’s take a deeper look at each rower so that you can get a clearer picture.
Concept2 Model D vs CityRow Go Max: Two very different indoor rowing experiences
Indoor rowing has the ability to provide you with an amazing, full-body workout, but these two rowers will not give you the same experience. When it comes to the CityRow Go vs. Concept2, the biggest difference is the fact that the CityRow Go is a smart rower and the Concept2 is not.
Concept2 Model D has been a long-time favorite in the fitness world, being used both in homes and at the gym, but this year has seen a giant eruption of smart fitness equipment which is disrupting the way we once saw fitness.
What makes these two rowers different specifically?
CityRow Go Max was born from the CityRow Go team and their mega-successful rowing studios where live classes were held daily. Once the world shut down due to COVID-19, their home rowing machine became vital to the continued success of their brand. They have successfully replicated their in-studio rowing experience for folks at home using a combination of a brilliant HD screen and their expert trainers and fun, motivating programming.
Concept2 Model D, on the other hand, is not an interactive rowing machine. It’s more of an old-school, simplistic approach to fitness. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, your decision will depend on your preferences and your individual motivators.
CityRow Go Max
As I mentioned in my complete analysis of the CITYROW GO Max rower, this smart rowing machine was made from the brand that perfected the live indoor rowing experience, with studios all across the country where enthusiasts can go to connect with others and sweat! This machine is the epitome of a piece of smart fitness equipment. Between its large, sweat-proof screen and unique, dynamic programming, it’s easy to see the appeal to this machine.
CITYROW GO's hooked us up with a $100 off coupon, so that will get you some extra savings if you decide to go with their smart rower. Use FITHEALTHYMOMMA100 at checkout.
Top Benefits of CityRow Go Max
Hands-down, the number one benefit of this machine is its interactive training. Even though you have to pay for a monthly subscription (which is very common!), you’ll benefit from having access to a full library of pre-recorded classes, both on and off the rower, and LIVE workouts, too.
Interactive training is the top draw for brands like Peloton, MYX, and Bowflex, leading me to believe that this is the wave of the future.
Aside from the training, this machine is beautiful, quiet, and packed with all the latest features to allow you to crush a workout from home at any time. Plus, it folds up quickly and easily, making it super convenient for storage and the perfect addition to any room in your home.
This machine takes a completely different approach to fitness, giving you more of a simplistic, traditional workout that you can do on your own or with programming streamed from another app or service. I even stacked up the Concept2 model D vs other smart rowing machines, which may help you decide if this rower fits your workout style.
Related Reading: Concept2 Model D vs Hydrow vs Ergatta vs RW900
When it comes to design, the Model D is about as simple as they come, which can be appealing for those who want a no-frills machine that just gets the job done. I’m hesitant to call this machine a smart rower because it really doesn’t have any connectivity, but it does have a small display screen that tracks your stats and output, so it’s not completely archaic.
Top Benefits of Concept2 Model D
Aside from its simplicity, it’s a sleek machine that’s easy to store and tuck away when not in use. The integrated display screen tells you all your most pertinent information and the air resistance is relatively quiet and smooth when in operation.
Additionally, it’s constructed from high-quality materials which make it durable and long-lasting and it’s very easy to assemble. This brand has been a trusted name in the rowing industry for years, which says a lot about the staying power of the brand.
Nordictrack RW600 vs CityRow Go Max: The closest comparison?
When it comes to comparing the Nordictrack RW600 vs. CityRow Go Max, these two rowers are very similar, but not the same. The first big difference is the resistance; Nordictrack uses a two-resistance approach, combining air and magnetic resistance, and CityRow uses water resistance.
Next, these both have screens attached that stream programming from their corresponding dedicated apps, but the CityRow Go Max screen is nearly double the size of the RW600 (which accounts for a lot of the price difference.)
Expectations and Benefits of the Nordictrack RW600 smart rower
This rower is certainly not one to sleep on. Although it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the CityRow Go has, it stands up in its own right to its competition.
The RW600 has 26 resistance levels which can be adjusted quickly and in real-time and also adjusted by the trainers’ thanks to the interactive tech that comes standard with the machine. Speaking of trainers, Nordictrack’s iFit membership comes fully loaded with workouts that work across all their equipment, making it a great investment.
This machine folds up and is on wheels for easy maneuvering, and its small, compact size makes it convenient for even the smallest of home gym spaces.
The Main Difference
In a head-to-head matchup between these two smart rowers, the difference is the price. There’s nearly a $900 difference between these two machines, which is a lot of money and can be the difference-maker for many consumers.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for and that the CityRow Go is priced higher due to their large screen, unique programming, water resistance, and sleek, elegant design.
Final Thoughts: Which rower will best suit your needs?
I’m a firm believer in finding what you love and what’s going to be the most sustainable for you when it comes to exercising and fitness, so my best advice is always to do your research and decide what kind of experience you want.
Of course, your budget will also play a major role in your decision-making process, too. But the great news is that you can finance your smart rower (if you qualify) and pay for it monthly instead of in a big chunk, which can be super helpful.
That said, if you’re someone who wants a bare-bones, no-nonsense rower that simply gets the job done, then the Concept2 Model D will likely be right up your alley. However, if you want more of an interactive, full-body experience, then you’re better served going with the CityRow Go Max or the Nordictrack.
Personally, I think the CityRow Go Max is a far superior rowing machine, as evidenced by the price tag. The brand offers great programming and all the latest features so that you can enjoy your workout to the fullest.
So, if your budget allows and you want a smart rower, I say go for the CityRow Go. If that price is a little steep, the RW600 is probably the least expensive smart rower on the market right now and it certainly doesn’t disappoint!
CONCEPT 2 (D)