WaterRower It was a classic.

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WaterRower is a Rhode Island-based company that makes beautifully crafted indoor rowing machines.

WaterRower machines are made from wood or brushed steel and have a water-based resistance system.

I have owned the WaterRower It was a classic. Rowing Machine for more than five years and while I am still happy with my purchase, there are a few aspects of the rower that I think could be better. I have written a review of the WaterRower lineup.

Healthline’s verdict

“If you are looking for a simple answer to rowing at home, a WaterRower is a great choice. It doesn’t require electricity or an app, and is elegant.”

WaterRower offers add-ons that incorporate more technology into your rower, which is not as high tech as others on the market.

WaterRower, Inc., is a small, privately held company headquartered in Warren, Rhode Island. As its name suggests, the company’s stationary rowers use a water-filled tank to provide resistance as you exercise.

WaterRowers are designed with a circular tank at the front of the rower. The pull cable is attached to the paddle inside the tank.

The cable pulls on the paddle, causing it to spin and drag against the water inside, which in turn creates resistance.

Water rowers vs. air and magnetic rowers

In addition to providing the feel and sound of rowing on the water, water rowers are known for their quiet and smooth operation.

However, water rowers tend to be quite pricey, and there are fewer brands and models to choose from than with other types of rowers.

The pros and cons of using air or magnetic resistance for stationary rowers is something that most of them use.

“Air rowers can mimic the feel of water resistance without having to add or remove water from a tank. They are noisy and don’t provide the same atmospheric experience as a water rower.”

Magnetic rowers use magnets to move the row. These rowers are lighter and easier to store. What is the downside? The exception to the rule is the Hydrow, which provides an on-the-water feel.

There are 10 WaterRower models, each with their own features and design.

Here is the current list of water rowers.

  • A1 home
  • A studio.
  • It was a classic.
  • Oxbridge.
  • “It’s natural.”
  • The club.
  • M1 HiRise.
  • M1 loRise.
  • S1
  • The Signature Edition of Xeno Mller.

The A1 home Rower is the company’s entry-level model. In addition to being the cheapest, the A1 differs from WaterRower’s typical design in four key ways:

  • It comes with a monitor that shows intensity and distance and offers time and distance workouts.
  • It has a construction that features a glider.
  • It was made from a combination of wooden and metal.
  • It has a longer handle.

The A studio. is the same as the A1 home. The only difference is that it’s intended for businesses and comes with a commercial warranty.

The other eight WaterRower machines are constructed using either solid wood or metal.

These rowers also have a slightly more advanced digital readout, the S4 Monitor. In addition to displaying more performance metrics, the monitor has add-on capabilities to pair with apps or other sensors.

Waterrower classic handle and S4 monitor
Photography by Candice Abellon

There are two special-edition models among these eight machines.

  • The Signature Edition of Xeno Mller. Rowing Machine. This rower was designed in collaboration with rowing coach and Olympic competitor Xeno Müller. Its design includes a wider handle and lower footrests to allow for a greater range of motion.
  • WaterRower S1. This limited edition rower features all stainless steel construction, which makes it WaterRower’s toughest and most expensive model.

Have you tried other rowers before?

Yes. I’ve used basic cable rowers at different gyms over the years, but the WaterRower It was a classic. is the only water-based machine I’ve used. I’ve always liked stationary rowers because they require full-body coordination and are low impact.


  • It is easy to use.
  • Stunning design.
  • The stowed upright.
  • It is suitable for small spaces.
  • It makes a nice whooshing sound.
  • It is relatively easy to assemble and take apart.
  • The Ergatta WaterRower upgrade package can be used with add-ons.


  • “Doesn’t include a built-in touch screen or sound system.”
  • “It’s not out of bounds for major fitness equipment.”
  • It is not easy to change the resistance level.

I own the WaterRower It was a classic. and find it to be relatively compact. Here are the dimensions when it’s in use:

Height 20 inches (50.8 cm)
Length 82 inches (208.3 cm)
Width 22 inches (55.9 cm)
Handle length 15 inches (38.1 cm)
Handle width about 2 inches (5.1 cm)

WaterRowers can be kept horizontal or vertically. A pair of wheels at one end lets you pull the rower out of an upright position.

Photography by Candice Abellon

The maximum user weight capacity is about 1,000 pounds, and the maximum user height is 37 inches.

The WaterRower It was a classic. (like all other WaterRowers, except for the A1 machines) is equipped with an S4 Monitor. This digital readout displays time, distance, speed/intensity, stroke rate, and heart rate (when paired with a heart rate monitor).

Interval training is one of the programs that the S4 Monitor features.

The S4 Monitor can be used with the WaterRower ComModule to connect to third-party training apps.

WaterRower machines range in price from $949 to $2,799 depending on the model, material type, and included accessories.

The A1 home is the least expensive, at $949, while the limited edition S1 is the priciest, with a $2,799 price tag.

I own the WaterRower It was a classic., which currently costs $1,599.

Depending on your location, shipping fees can be different for wooden or metal models. The current rates are listed.

  • States east of the Mississippi River: $69.95 per wooden machine; $124.95 per metal machine
  • States west of the Mississippi River: $79.95 per wooden machine; $134.95 per metal machine

The company also offers accessories that can be purchased separately, including a heart rate monitor, upgraded footboards, and the Bluetooth ComModule.


The frame and components of rowers come with a one-year warranty.

When you register your product, the company will give you a free warranty upgrade. The frame and components of the upgrade are covered by a 3-year warranty.

Rental program

If you’re unsure whether a WaterRower is right for you, the company offers a rental program that allows you to try the “It’s natural.”, The club., Oxbridge., It was a classic., or A studio. model.

The program requires a 3-month minimum rental term, which costs $38.58 per month for the A studio. and $43.24 per month for the other four models.

You can either purchase the machine or continue renting it for as long as you want.

WaterRower machines are easy to assemble and come with all the tools you need.

  • “An owner’s manual.”
  • A plastic pump.
  • Water purification tablets.
  • An Allen key or wrench.

“There is a video on the company’s website that walks you through each step.”

If you are comfortable using an Allen wrench and are not too worried about putting together furniture, a WaterRower is easy to assemble.

You need to fill the water tank once the rower is put together. You need a clean bucket, siphon pump, and about 3 gallons of either tap or distilled water to do this. There are lines on the side of the tank to help you avoid over filling it.

The rower includes a spot to store the Allen wrench so that it is always handy, as the rower may need minor adjustments from time to time.

Made from solid American black walnut, the WaterRower It was a classic. looks more like furniture than exercise equipment.

Photography by Candice Abellon

The wooden rower has a comfortable sliding seat, easy-grip handle, and a variety of footrests. The water tank and dolly wheels are located at the end of the dual-rail track.

The materials used to construct WaterRower models are different than those used in other models.

For example, the WaterRower Oxbridge. is essentially the exact same rower as the It was a classic. but is crafted from solid cherry wood, which gives it a lighter color.

WaterRower offers wooden rowers made from ash, American black walnut, or cherry wood with a light or dark stain, as well as metal rowers constructed from aluminum or stainless steel.

The A1 rowers have a combination of hardwood and aluminum.

One of the best parts of the WaterRower It was a classic. is that I can hop on the machine and simply start rowing.

If you want to see your performance metrics, you need to turn on the S4 monitor.

Photography by Candice Abellon

The S4 monitor has metrics.

  • Stroke rate: strokes per minute
  • Intensity: watts, calories burned, or speed measured in different units
  • Duration: time
  • Distance: meters, miles, kilometers, or strokes
  • Zone bar: shown as a position based on a predefined workout zone (from high intensity work to low intensity)
  • Heart rate (optional): heartbeats per minute if using WaterRower’s heart monitor accessory

You can use the monitor to select a workout based on distance, time, or stroke ratio.

You can find several how-to videos for programming workouts on WaterRower’s YouTube channel.

The resistance level is determined by the amount of water you put in the drum. There is a sticker on the side of the drum to indicate fill lines, from 13 up to a max fill line of 19.

For proper maintenance, the company recommends adding Water purification tablets. to the water tank every 6 months. Some of these tablets come with the rower. The company even has a form for requesting free purification tablets.

I’ve owned the WaterRower It was a classic. for more than 5 years now. Here’s a brief overview of what I like about the rower and what I think could be better.

It’s a full-body workout

As I’ve mentioned, one of my favorite parts of this rower is that it’s It is easy to use., meaning you can get a workout in without fussing with the machine.

Plus, each session can be as easy or as intense as you want, making it suitable for both beginner and advanced rowers. I also like using it as a quick full-body warmup before another workout.

Proper form is important to avoid injury from overextending or straining.

It works in an apartment

Being able to store the rower vertically is a huge plus.

The rower was hidden against the wall between the television, dining table, and coat stand in my 700- square-foot apartment when the COVID-19 epidemic was at its peak.

I could easily lower the rower for a quick sweat session when I was ready to exercise.

Photography by Candice Abellon

Even when it’s in use, the machine doesn’t require a large area. And despite its relatively small footprint, the WaterRower It was a classic. accommodates both me — at 5 feet (152.4 cm) tall — and my 6-foot-tall (183-cm) partner without issue.

It doesn’t have many adjustment options

The rower lacks adjustability for things like the angle of the footboard and level of resistance.

Adding or removing water from the tank is needed to change the resistance level.

I have treated this mostly as a “set it and forget it” item, even though I have dismantled the rower for moving and emptied out the water.

Therefore, to increase the intensity, I instead row faster and/or compress a bit more at the catch position before pushing back (while maintaining good form, of course!).

The adjustment options for the footboard are limited, but pretty standard for indoor rowing machines. You can shorten or lengthen the foot stretcher by sliding it up or down a notch.

WaterRower is not the only manufacturer of water-based rowing machines. Ergatta is the other big name.

The Ergatta row is made of wooden. It is designed to be used with a subscription-based platform that provides both video game-inspired and scenic workouts.

An Ergatta membership costs $29 per month.

Ergatta WaterRower It was a classic.
Price $2,199 $1,495
Length 86 inches (218.4 cm) 82 inches (208.3 cm)
Height 23 inches (58.4 cm) 20 inches (50.8 cm)
Width 40 inches (101.6 cm) 22 inches (55.9 cm)
Weight without water 76.5 pounds (34.7 kg) 66.5 pounds (30.2 kg)
Max user weight and height capacity Weight: 500 pounds (226.8 kg)
Height (inseam): 40 inches (101.6 cm)
Weight: 1,000 pounds (453.6 kg)
Height (inseam): 37 inches (94 cm)
Bluetooth yes yes, requires Bluetooth ComModule ($59.95)
Display HD touch screen S4 digital monitor
Training options subscription-based scenic, video game-style, and interval workouts programmable time and distance workouts
Compatibility with Ergatta streaming platform yes yes, requires unit upgrade ($549)

Another popular rower is Hydrow. It uses magnetic resistance, which is more resistant than water, and is designed to mimic the feel of on-the-water rowing.

The Hydrow Rower is designed to be used with a subscription-based streaming platform for live and on-demand classes, and has an HD touch screen.

The Hydrow currently costs $2,495, plus $38 per month for a Hydrow membership. Learn more about the Hydrow in our hands-on review.

“If you want a water rower that is easy to use, doesn’t require electricity, and has visual appeal, I would recommend a WaterRower machine.”

If you like being able to choose your accessory add-ons and apps rather than being locked into a particular service or subscription, a WaterRower machine may be a good fit.

If you want a machine that comes with performance tracking, on-demand classes, or more high tech accessories, then a WaterRower may not be the machine for you.

WaterRower has a wide range of budgets and can offer wooden and metal rowers.

The brand offers a number of accessories, such as the ComModule, to add more technology to your rower.

While it’s not for everyone, after 5 years of use, I still love my WaterRower It was a classic. because it makes it easy to find movement in my day. Plus, the rower’s Stunning design. makes it a statement piece in the room — more than once, it’s been a conversation starter.