A water rower is an indoor rowing machine where the resistance provided by water as opposed to air or magnetic resistance which is what most commonly used and this type of rower was designed by ex-US national team rower John Duke in the mid 1980’s. John’s company still produce these machines to this day.
Water rowers are always made from solid wood. I know that sounds old-fashioned but it aids a smoother rower action. Whilst these rowing machines are not the cheapest on the market (quite far from it actually)they do perform really well, are extremely quiet, easy to store (not too bulky) and usually gorgeous to look at. The prices for a decent model start at around £1,000 at http://www.rowflow.net/.
The machines are extremely solid and well built and come in all types of styles and woods, ash, oak or cherry wood. If you are concerned about having an exercise machine on show in your house and being unsightly, then one of the wooden models would be for you. Some of these models are so beautiful, it feels like you are working out on a beautiful ornament.
The machines themselves are unlike any other because of its patented water filled flywheel. It is hard to exactly copy the action of a scull on the water, but the mechanics of the flywheel spinning in water comes in a close second on dry land.
The fact that the water is 800 times denser than air means that there is no need for any extra resistance or dampening that you will find in normal air rowers. The faster you pull, the more resistance is generated giving it no end of variability.
If you did want to practice rowing with a stroke that was faster, you will have to reduce the amount of water in the tank and it will give you a workout similar to an air rower.
There is no delay in the resistance at the beginning of the pull but the resistance does drop off in the middle of the stroke when the water is lifted away from the blades. This resistance does increase towards the end of the pull, so it does even out.
These machines are also extremely quiet in operation due to the wooden construction and the use of a strap rather than a chain. The only thing you hear is the sloshing sound of the water in the tank as you pull it, giving you a real feeling of rowing on the river.
Storage is also a plus point for the Waterrower series as they are all designed to stand upright with the tank acting as ballast for stability. In this position they take up around two square feet. Great if you are planning on training in your living space.
The seat is fairly soft and comfortable and the handle is sturdy and gives a good grip.
A downside of a Waterrower for me is the footrests. These are perfectly ok if you want to row in shoes but I prefer rowing in bare feet, is very difficult.
The plastic square at the bottom and has sharp edges that cut into your feet. I also found that my shoes get caught when trying to put them in and out of the holders, which does become somewhat annoying.
Another negative point for me is the angle of the seat. there is a slight backward angle, which makes it easier to maintain good form at the end of the stroke but it can put a strain on your back.
The Waterrower is an excellent rowing machine that due to its solid construction should last a lifetime. It has a stunning design and a smooth quiet action. It is easy to move and store and overall (if you can get over the seat being slightly uncomfortable and at an angle and wear shoes when you go for the burn) it gives you a great workout unlike any other rower