Choosing the best rowing machine for home use – our rowing machine reviews

By James / December 16, 2016
best rowing machine for home

When kitting out a home gym with exercise machines, rowers are often at the top of the list for the good all round workout that they can give.  How do you choose the best rowing machine for home though?  There’s lots to think about and some good options I’ve reviewed for if you’re ready to buy.  Check out the rowing machine reviews at the bottom of the page.

What are rowing machines good for?

Rowers are good all round workout machines giving a comprehensive non impact cardio workout and it will work both the upper and lower body.  Cardio activities are great for all round health and improving your blood pressure and general heart health as well as burning calories and blasting fat.

Be aware that if you have back problems or pain that rowing machines aren’t always the best option and can aggravate existing probelms- do check with a doctor or your physiotherapist if you’re at all unsure about whether they could be good for you or whether you should try another cardio exercise.

What to look for in a rowing machine for home

When looking for the best home rowing machine you need to bear in mind a few things.

Firstly, and this is a big one and will dictate how much you might want to spend, is how serious are you likely to be using the machine as part of your routines?  If you’re planning to be using it daily then getting something robust and gym quality is probably a good step.  If you’re looking to use it a couple of times a week and fairly lightly then a cheaper rowing machine might suit you just as well.

The next thing to look at is the type of resistance you might like to have.  There are a few different options on the market at the moment from magnetic resistance, to air resistance to the new kid on the block – water resistance.   The different types have different noise levels, size and weight, so think about the space you want to put it in and whether noise levels are an issue for you.  Magnetic is probably the quietest, while air resistance is likely the noisiest.  If noise is an issue then getting some mats for underneath might also quieten it down a little.

Price is obviously a big factor for many people.  You can get budget rowing machines under £100 at the moment which perform well and can suit many people (see below for at least one that is currently at that price point) and they can go upwards towards the £1000 mark.  As an investment these more expensive bits of equipment are well worth it as not only are you getting gym quality rowers but you’re also getting good warranties and there will be a good resale opportunity if you ever want to recoup costs as well.

Rowing machine comparison

Here’s a list of the machines I’m reviewing below in a handy table so that you can see the best value rowing machine for your needs.  Read on for further detailed thoughts on each option.

Body Sculpture BR3010

elasticYes - simple, tracks stroke count, time, total count and caloriesStandard £
JLL R200 Luxury Home Rowing Machine

Magnetic - 10 levelsYes - total count, calorie, count/min, time, distance12 month£
JTX Freedom Air Rower

Air - 16 levelsYes - Speed, Distance, Stroke, 500m Split Time, Revolutions, Time, Torque or Power, Strokes/Minute, Heart Rate2 year home use££
Concept2 Model D

AirYes - tracks distance, speed, pace, calories. Bluetooth connectivity5 year frame / 2 year monitor/parts£££
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

WaterYes - stroke rate, total strokes, duration, distance, intensity . Heart rate monitor compatible5 year frame / 3 year parts£££

Best rowing machine reviews

Body Sculpture BR3010 Rower and Gym

Probably the best cheap rowing machine around at the moment, you can get this one currently for under £100 (although price does vary click the pic for the latest price).  The Body Sculpture BR3010 is not only a rowing machine but can also be used for other gym and resistance type workouts which makes it a really good value bit of kit.

The resistance is from the elastic bands and so it’s a little different to a standard rower, but it’s a good option if you’re short on space, as it folds away nicely and also if you’re short on cash!

There’s also a dvd for exercise ideas as well.


  • Good budget buy
  • multi gym functionality
  • adjustable resistance


  • although a ‘rower’ it’s not typical and might not be what you’re after
  • not great for really tall people

Perfect for…   if you’re on a budget!

Check out more reviews and latest price of the Body Sculpture rowing machine on Amazon.


JLL R200 Luxury Home Rowing Machine

The JLL R200 rowing machine is another good option if you’re looking for a budget rower and the benefit of this one over the one above is that this one actually acts like a regular rowing machine.  The resistance on this one is magnetic and so is a good choice if noise is important, or lack of it!  Magnetic rowers tend to be a bit quieter and the reviews on this particular model show that most people find it a very quiet machine.  If you’re in a flat or have neighbours this is especially important!

There are 10 levels of resistance that you can set it for and the monitor will display – Total count, Calorie, Count / Min, Count, Distance, Scan and Time.

All in all it’s a great bit of kit that is still in the budget category.


  • quiet machine
  • still a good budget option – my choice for the best budget rowing machine!
  • lots of resistance options for you to grow with


  • some reviews state that it’s not too robust.

Perfect for…  light home use

See more reviews and latest price on Amazon here.


JTX Freedom Air Rower

As a mid range rowing machine this JTX Freedom rower is a really good option.  As it’s name suggests, it uses air powered resistance and comes with 16 different resistance variations.  We’re starting to get a little bit more in depth with the training with this more expensive rower, compared to the cheaper options, as this one comes with 8 programmes and a wireless heart rate strap that works with the program for the best workout.

It’s a really solid rowing machine and as it uses air might be a little noisier than some on the market, but if you’re after something that will last a long time, be up high in terms of quality but not with the highest price tag this one is perfect.  You can see a more in depth review of this model here.


  • high quality
  • wireless heart rate monitor
  • 16 resistance options
  • 2 year warranty


  • air resistance can be a little noisy

Perfect for…  those wanting a robust, daily use machine but at not too high a price

Check the JTX rowing machine out on Amazon here.


Concept 2 rower – Model D

The Concept 2 rowers are a really good brand that are you’ll also find in gyms and so if you’re looking for a serious rowing machine that can keep up with your intended pace then something like this one would be a good buy.  It’s got a long warranty, it is a well known brand and so if for some reason you want to get rid or upgrade in future (maybe to their model E version) then you’ll be able to recoup your investment.  For that reason it’s often a good idea to go for these well known makes.

The Concept2 Model D rower is air powered and provides a really smooth workout and although it’s quite a large rowing machine it folds easily and so can be stored effectively when not in use.  The monitor not only tracks all that you do, but it can connect with your smartphone to keep track of your workouts.

They have many fans online and in the crossfit community in particular and they’re also just a really a good bit of gym equipment!


  • high quality
  • good enough for gyms so incredibly robust and will cope with heavy workouts
  • monitor hooks up with your smartphone


  • getting into expensive territory – definitely a considered purchase.

Perfect for…  keeping up with your gym routine at home

Check out the amazing reviews of the Concept 2 rowing machine on Amazon here.


WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

Finally we have what is fast becoming one of the most popular types of rowing machines on the market today.  The WaterRower is unique in that it uses water to provide natural resistance which is just like how it would be if you were rowing on real water and not in a gym. The faster you go the more resistance.

It’s a fairly basic set up and it’s actually a really pleasant way to train with the noise of the swooshing water.  The monitor measures everything that you need it to and is compatible with many heart rate monitors around.

Most of all what stands out about this rower is that as well as being an excellent bit of equipment that works really well, but that it looks great.  It would be at home in any living area and would complement it rather than being an eyesore!  It does fold away as well though in case you don’t want it out on show!


  • beautiful machine – definitely a statement item
  • water resistance mimics real rowing movements
  • simple design


  • bulky – it does fold away, but then you wouldn’t get the benefit of its looks.  But you do need a good bit of space for it

Perfect for…  heavy workouts in style!

Check out the latest price on Amazon here.


I do hope that you will consider a rower for your home gym and that this guide to the best rowing machines was helpful for you.  Do let me know if you have any other recommendations or thoughts on my choices!

About the author


I'm James and I've been a bit of a fitness and gym nut for the past few years. I have just recently become a qualified gym instructor and personal trainer. If I'm not washing my car I'll be in the gym!

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