If you’re looking to invest in a piece of connected fitness equipment for your home gym, then you’ve likely heard of Peloton and Hydrow. These are two premier direct to consumer fitness brands that are changing the fitness industry and the way we work out from home.
Both brands offer exceptional workouts on the equipment as well as tons of programming made to be done on the floor, giving users a complete, well-rounded workout package without the need to purchase multiple machines and apps.
So the question becomes, which product is the ultimate workout machine?
In this article, I’ll first address the most important question, which provides a better workout, cycling, or rowing? Then, I’ll line up the Hydrow connected rower and the Peloton Bike, analyzing each machine based on a few important criteria, which include:
- Features and Tech
- Workout Experience
- Price Comparison
- Pros and Cons
- What's best for you?
Let’s dig in and get to the bottom of which smart fitness machine (indoor exercise bike or an indoor rower) is going to give you the most bang for your buck, a challenging workout and have fun while doing it.
Cycling Vs. Rowing: Which is the better workout?
Rowing and cycling are both great cardiovascular workouts, offering a myriad of benefits for the body and mind. However, there are some differences in the movements and the muscles used in each workout that are important to note.
Reasons why cycling can improve your fitness
Cycling has been a popular choice for years now, especially after spin studios popped up all over the place. It’s a fun, exhilarating, but also challenging way to get your heart pumping and your body moving. Some of the main benefits of cycling include:
- Weight loss (high calorie burn)
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility
- Improved joint mobility
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved posture and coordination
- Stronger bones
What you can expect from rowing
Rowing, on the other hand, is a rather new trend in the fitness space. Of course, people have been rowing on the water for years and indoors for years, but the popularity of this form of exercise has spiked dramatically over the last couple of years, which probably has something to do with the benefits of indoor rowing, which include:
- Ability to work the entire body at once (86% of the body’s muscles)
- Increased muscle strength and definition
- Increased cardiovascular endurance
- Weight loss (high calorie burn)
- Stronger bones
- Improved joint mobility
As you can see, both modalities offer a myriad of positive benefits, but there are a couple of nuances to note that differentiate these two styles. For starters, cycling is primarily a lower body workout, using mainly your glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings, with little upper body involvement (unless you incorporate dumbbells). Rowing, on the other hand, uses 86% of your body’s muscles, which includes muscles in your upper body, lower body, and core.
Both styles are low-impact, which makes them inherently safe for users of all fitness levels and even those with injured or compromised joints. But injuries and special accomodations aside, rowing provides the most comprehensive, total body workout when compared with cycling.
Next, let’s line up our two products, the Hydrow rower and Peloton Bike head-to-head and compare them in a number of categories.
Peloton Vs. Hydrow: The Showdown Between Top Connected Gym Equipment Brands
Aside from the value that each workout style brings, there are some very important factors to consider before you make a decision as to which machine is going to be the right fit for you, your home, and your workout style.
Features and Tech
Let’s start with the good stuff; the technology that makes these machines “smart.” Fitness equipment has come a long way over the last few years. It’s now intuitive, interactive, and designed to provide you with a completely customized workout that pushes you to be your best, physically and mentally.
Hydrow Rower Features
The Hydrow’s entire workout experience is designed to give you the feeling that you’re actually out on the water, just as I've referenced in my comprehensive hydrow rower research blog post. When you’re rowing the Hydrow, you’re in a boat being led by your rowing instructor who's right there with you. It’s as close to the real thing as you can get.
- Patented drag mechanism - This is their electromagnetic, computer-controlled component that allows you to feel as though you’re out on the water as you “row” the machine.
- Beautiful, sleek design - This machine is meant to look good in your home. It’s elegant and sophisticated while still providing you with unmatched performance.
- Bluetooth enabled - Connect your headphones and/or heart rate monitor.
- 22” touchscreen - This brilliant display that includes front-facing speakers will help bring the river right to your living room and make the entire experience simple and easy to control with the tap of the screen.
- Near silent operation - With industrial-grade webbed straps for your feet, each stroke is incredibly smooth and virtually silent.
- Maximum comfort - An included 10-roller system seat that’s supremely cushioned and ergonomically designed, you’ll feel supported throughout your entire workout. Plus, the handle is ergonomic for a low-stress grip.
- Space-saving - Limited space? Hydrow comes on wheels for easy maneuverability and if you’d like the option to store it, you can purchase the upright storage kit for convenient vertical storage.
Peloton Bike Features
It’s no secret that Peloton is king when it comes to the world of indoor cycling. But what makes this machine so special? The entire machine is built for more than just a workout, it’s an experience that pushes you to give your best effort.
- Compact, sleek design - The all-black bike and compact design allow you to fit this machine nearly anywhere in your home without it making an intrusive impact on your aesthetics.
- Fully adjustable - The seat, handlebar, and screen are all adjustable so that you can feel secure, supported, and comfortable at all times.
- Quiet operation - Similar to Hydrow, Peloton designed their belt drive to be whisper quiet when in operation so that you can sweat it out at any hour.
- Bluetooth - Connect your heart rate monitor, headphones, and smartwatch.
- 22” touchscreen - Get up close and personal with your instructor, feeling like you’re front and center at a live class, and control your workout with a few simple screen commands.
Workout Experience: Can any fitness brand compete with the Peloton?
While the features, tech, and design of the machines are no doubt important, the workout experience is truly what makes the machine. Both Peloton and Hydrow offer fully immersive workout experiences that are designed to work your entire body while pushing you to be the best version of yourself that you can be, physically and mentally.
What to expect from Hydrow workouts
Hydrow wants you to push your body and release your mind with their complete workout experience. They offer a wide range of workouts, both on the rower and off. From rowing classes that are designed to get your heart pumping and your muscles burning to relaxing, meditative rows down the river, Hydrow’s class selection has you covered. They also have a complete library of off-rower classes that will challenge your body in new and different ways.
Elite rowing trainers lead the classes
All Hydrow classes are led by elite athletes who are experts in the field. They are authentic competitors who are passionate about their sport. When you’re out on the water rowing with them, you’ll feel the genuine connection that only comes when you have access to expert guidance and leadership by those who are willing to be open and vulnerable.
Speaking of connection, another amazing benefit of Hydrow’s programming is that you become part of something bigger than yourself - you’re part of a community of passionate people who are working to accomplish personal goals, but doing so with the help and encouragement of thousands of others. It’s truly inspiring and something that will push and motivate you to be your best self and maintain your commitment.
Some highlights of Hydrow’s programming includes:
- Live workouts that allow you to move in-sync with their experts out on the water in real-time
- Hundreds of on-demand options. They record every live row so that you have access to a complete library at your fingertips.
- Journeys that allow you to set your own pace, exploring scenic waterways on your own and on your own schedule.
- Yoga, pilates, and strength training on the mat for a well-rounded fitness routine.
What to expect from Peloton workouts
Peloton is the king of cycling and arguably of connected fitness. The magic ingredient that makes their brand so successful is their programming. They’re determined to motivate you to enjoy movement while pushing your limits and connecting with a community of strong, like-minded people on similar journeys.
Motivational fitness instructors
Peloton employs motivational instructors with different personalities and training styles so that users have the opportunity to find the instructors they feel the most connected with, while also benefiting from a diverse range of athletes and the unique perspectives and styles that they bring to the table.
Connected workout community
Similar to the way Hydrow uses community to connect their users and keep them motivated, so too, does Peloton. In fact, the Peloton community is one of the biggest fitness communities in the world. There are currently 3.1 million members, and the brand believes that they can take that number to 100 million.
This community is filled with people who are eager to engage with live classes, competing with and cheering on others. Particularly during these intense times post-COVID-19, connection is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and with many people missing their gym memberships, Peloton steps in to fill that void.
Some of the highlights of Peloton Workouts include:
- Live weekly classes and real-time instructor call outs.
- A complete on-demand library with classes ranging from 5 to 60 minutes each.
- A diverse library of classes ranging from HIIT and cardio to strength training and yoga.
- Motivational instructors who are there to push you to new physical limits while supporting you every step of the way.
- Frequent special content releases, including special themes and diverse challenges.
Price Comparison: Which option is friendlier for the budget?
When considering one of these machines, it’s natural to take the price into consideration. After all, most connected fitness machines are a sizeable monetary commitment. When it comes to Peloton Vs. Hydrow pricing, there really isn’t a huge difference in pricing, but I’ll break that down for you next anyway to give you a clear picture of the type of investment you’re looking at.
Peloton recently lowered the price of their classic bike in order to compete with the new alternative budget bikes that are seeking to dethrone them. Their classic Bike now starts at $1895 for just the bike. They also released their Bike +, which comes with a new set of features and benefits, and starts at $2495.
Regardless of which bike you choose, you’ll probably also want to get their Essentials package, which includes essential accessories like cycling shoes that you’ll need to ride efficiently. This package ranges anywhere from $150-$200 additional.
The last consideration is the price of the Peloton app membership which gives you access to their programming. Currently, Peloton charges $39 per month for their membership.
Hydrow’s pricing is a little more straightforward. They have only one package and it costs $2245. Of course, there are some extra accessories you can buy if you want to like a dedicated machine mat, heart rate monitor, or their upright storage kit (if you want to be able to fold and stow your machine when not in use), but none of these accessories are essential for the operation of the machine.
As far as the membership cost, Hydrow’s monthly fee is $38 per month.
Pros and Cons When Choosing the Hydrow or the Peloton
Now that you have an idea of what to expect from each of the machines, including their costs, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss the pros and cons of each smart fitness machine.
What's great about hydrow?
- Study, sleek machine design
- Quiet, virtually silent operation
- 22” HD touchscreen that’s sweat and dust-proof
- Daily live classes + a full library of pre-recorded options
- Realistic, on-water rowing classes
- Professional athlete-led classes
- An amazing community for accountability and support
- Hydrow App allows users to take their workouts on the go
- Cross-training, floor workouts included with the app
- 30-day risk-free trial
- Journey classes that allow you to dictate your energy expenditure and pace
- Rotating screen for optimal floor workout viewing
- It’s a pricey piece of equipment
- There are no volume controls for the music that plays during the workouts
- If you want to store your Hydrow upright to maximize space, you have to pay an additional $69.99
What's great about Peloton?
- An incredible community of users for motivation and inspiration
- Dedicated instructors that are easy to connect with and feel motivated by
- A daily schedule of live workouts + a huge library of on-demand options
- Access to thousands of workouts across a variety of modalities
- Interactive leaderboard, instructor shoutouts, high-fives, and hashtags
- Special programming and content released regularly
- The bike is sleek, compact, and easy to use
- It’s expensive, even if you choose the classic package
- You must have dedicated cycling shoes which will cost additional
- Rotating screen is only available on the Bike + model
Buy This Machine If…
Ok, let’s lay it all out on the line.
Who should buy the Peloton?
You should go for the Peloton if you love cycling and want that to be the cornerstone of your fitness. Cycling is low-impact and considered safe for users of all ages and abilities, even those who have compromised knees (always talk to your doctor beforehand!). Also, if you crave connection and camaraderie then you’re going to love the Peloton live workouts. That said, if you can’t make their live classes, you won’t have the opportunity to workout live, which can be a bummer for some. Lastly, if you want to increase your cardiovascular fitness, cycling is one of the best ways to do so.
Who should buy the Hydrow?
The Hydrow rower is a machine that’s made to give its users a full-body workout challenge, so if you’re looking for a challenge and want to get the most bang for your fitness buck so to speak, then the Hydrow is definitely worth a closer look. You can burn more calories rowing in 20 minutes than you can cycling in 20 minutes. And if you’re looking to build and tone your muscles, rowing will be your best bet for total body muscle recruitment. As a final point, those with limited space will love that the Hydrow has the option to be stored vertically (for $69.99 more), getting it up and out of the way.
Final Thoughts: which smart machine (Peloton or Hydrow) is the best choice for you?
That was a lot of information, which means you certainly have your work cut out for you as you navigate the decision-making process. I hope that the information I provided in this article provided you with some insight and direction as you identify which connected fitness experience is going to match your workout preferences best.
I truly think that both machines are incredible and that you really can’t go wrong with either option. They are very similar in that they incorporate many of the same principles and programming features that provide you with a stellar workout experience.
Your decision will come down to which style of cardio workout is the best choice for you and what your goals are. If your number one goal is to get the most out of your workout, meaning the most impact on your body and fitness goals, then rowing is superior, and Hydrow is one of the best smart rowing machines on the market. That said, some people simply love cycling, in which case, Peloton is undoubtedly the reigning king.
Which option will you choose? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!