In this Hydrow Wave review, I'll explain why getting this compact rower is probably a better option for most people looking for a full-body workout experience than most full-sized rowing machines or even the original Hydrow. If space is at a premium in your house, and you yearn to recreate the experience of rowing on actual rivers and other large bodies of water indoors, you'll need the Hydrow Wave.
We called the original Hydrow the 'the rowing machine world's answer to Peloton' in our Hydrow review, as this is probably the most accurate description of what this capable home gym equipment has to offer; connected, fully immersive workouts that'll challenge your cardio capabilities while keeping you entertained. No wonder it's considered one of the best rowing machines.
If the Hydrow is so good, why would anyone need the Hydrow Wave? As it turns out, bigger isn't always better, and as a matter of fact, the small form factor of the Wave makes it even better suited for indoor rowing workouts than its larger sibling, not the least because it feels less intimidating to use the rower. Sure, it's somewhat less immersive, too, but just as much fun.
Hydrow Wave review – Price and availability
There are a couple of Hydrow Wave bundles also available, including the Hydrow Wave On the Mat Bundle (incl. one workout mat, two yoga blocks, two short resistance bands, two long resistance bands, and three resistance bands with handles) and the Hydrow Wave Power Package (incl. a workout mat, Jaybird Vista Wireless Headphones, Polar Verity Sense Heart Rate Sensor, performance foam roller, multi-resistance band set, and two yoga blocks).
Sadly, the Hydrow Wave Vertical Anchor tool, which helps store the Wave in an upright position, is also extra ($190/£156).
What's the difference between the Hydrow and Hydrow Wave?
The Wave’s footprint measures 80 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 43 inches tall compared with the original Hydrow coming in at 86 inches long, 25 inches wide, and 47 inches tall. So as can be expected from these statistics, the Wave is lighter, weighing in at 102 pounds as opposed to 145 pounds. It’s also smaller than many of its competitors, such as the NordicTrack RW900 (read our full Nordictrack RW900 review for more info), which measures 86.5 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 50.4 inches tall.
Another notable reduction on the second interaction is the Wave’s screen which at 16 inches is six inches smaller than the original 22-inch one. As long as you don’t have an eyesight problem, the screen doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of following an online programme or impede reading metrics during a sweat session. The rowing machine, or ergometer, which is also known as across the pond, still supports a maximum weight of 375 pounds. And to mimic rowing on the river, the Wave has a proprietary resistance mechanism.
Hydrow Wave review – Build quality
At first glance, the Wave is slimmer and sleeker and looks like every inch it’s built to last. It also looks rather similar to the Concept2 rower if the flywheel was positioned to the bottom and it had a larger screen face. Thanks to the wheels at the front, as well as it being lighter in weight than its predecessor, I was able to manoeuvre the machine to a place of my choosing after it was delivered. While I like to think I have enough strength to lift heavier objects, no one wants to exert energy unnecessarily.
The machine can also be stored vertically when not in use, but this would come at an additional cost for a vertical anchor kit. As for the build quality, the Wave is a nice piece of equipment which does what the company has sought to do through space and cost. Despite the price reduction from the original, it doesn’t impact the sturdiness of the machine. When it comes to addressing space, the manufacturer aims to support an even broader range of lifestyles as well as a variety of living styles across the UK, from inner-city apartment living to garden gyms and homes to flats.
While the smaller screen doesn’t compromise the screen quality, it’s a shame you can’t swivel it because it is fixed, unlike the original Hydrow monitor. However, having said that, due to being lower to the ground for off-the-machine workouts, I didn’t have to crane my neck too much to see the screen, as is the case with treadmills and exercise bikes. The display, as a result of being fixed, didn’t sway or vibrate.
Hydrow Wave review – Tech
The Hydrow Wave delivers its signature experience via patented computer-controlled dynamic resistance that mimics the feel of being on the water, and it does this via immersive content streamed live and on-demand from waterways around the world. Whereas other rowers rely on noisy chains, fans, or water tanks, the Hydrow Wave features electromagnetic braking, high-quality polyester webbing and a custom-designed spring assembly – all to ensure super smooth and whisper-quiet operation. Admittedly the machine is noticeably quieter.
What separates this model from the original, though, is its more compact design, with a smaller footprint, mobility and competitive price point. The Hydrow Wave’s two-piece polycarbonate monocoque frame balances strength and form, delivering the same quality and durability in a package 30% lighter than the original Hydrow. That’s quite impressive.
The machine’s frame is made of polycarbonate, unlike the original, which is made of aluminium. It’s a type of resin and weighs just 102 pounds. That’s 43 pounds lighter. Despite a lighter model, the Wave remains sturdy and is of high quality. The Wave’s handles have a good easy grip even with sweat which is welcome as not all machines have this feature.
Hydrow Wave review – Workout experience
If it’s been a while since you've been on a rowing machine, then the beginner-friendly programme is incredibly useful in helping you get back into the rhythm. A rowing guide to address form automatically pops up from the moment you switch the screen on. Furthermore, the first three 15-minute workouts – Breathe, Sweat and Drive - are dedicated to getting the rower back into the swing of things.
Breathe workouts focus on form and are lower in intensity, while Sweat workouts focus on heart health and toning; Drive workouts are for the ones that will push rowers to their maximum, addressing both cardio and strength training. After completing any of these workouts, you’re prompted into an additional 10-session program designed to help you build strength with shorter workouts.
Moving on to on-demand fitness classes, there is no room for boredom. Aside from 4,000 plus classes, they range from HIIT to form-focused, so there are always new goals to strive for. And to keep rowers motivated, sessions are recorded on location from various places around the world. It’s the second-best thing to being on the river. Instructors can be seen rowing in scenic settings, including London's River Thames, Miami Beach, Florida and Charles River in Boston.
Instructors are full of enthusiasm to boost your own and use words to motivate you through sessions which is crucial when energy is waning. I particularly like how they remind you to check on your form to ensure bad habits don’t set in. These are the exact kind of instructors I'd want in my boat.
Limited off-the-machine workouts are available, too, in the form of yoga, Pilates, mobility and strength training. These are super useful to balance the cardio sessions. As a keen yogi, I very much enjoyed the small selection of guided yoga sessions available on the mat.
Hydrow Wave review – Verdict
We all know rowing is a challenging workout which gets your heart pumping and helps build strength. As Hydrow instructors remind you, rowing uses 86 per cent of the muscles in your body. After using the Wave on several sessions, I have to say I have re-kindled my passion for rowing. I haven't had a chance to do much of it since the lockdown forced my gym to shut down.
With a plethora of classes in the Wave’s library coupled with enthusiastic instructors, rowing will seem far more accessible to beginners as well as keep pros motivated. Bad habits can often slip in, and it’s reassuring to have the instructors take time to break down the correct form, so rowers know how to use their legs, arms, back and core for a safer rhythmic workout.
There's very little I don't like about the Hydrow Wave because it’s compact, sturdy and offers more value for money than many of its competitors. If I was to be picky, then I would say that from the noise point of view, the wave is not 100 per cent smooth. On odd occasions, it can be noisy, especially when sliding towards the screen face. Other than that, I can safely say this Hydrow Wave is a good investment for those looking to improve their strength training and fitness overall.
Granted, no rowing machine will give you the thrill or the mindfulness of being on the river. But designed to address two of the biggest barriers that prevent people from bringing a rowing machine into their homes - space and cost - the Hydrow Wave has addressed this perfectly.
Hydrow Wave review – Also consider
Probably no other indoor rower helps you better recreate the sensation of outdoor rowing than the WaterRower. It's a brilliant concept, delivered almost flawlessly. The WaterRower is pleasing to the eyes and the ears and provides a challenging yet enjoyable full-body workout. The build quality is sublime, and it is extremely convenient to both work out with and move around the house. Read our full WaterRower review.
The Echelon Smart Rower is one of the most ergonomic indoor rowers. Its near-silent operation and foldability make it ideal for shared households, although the lack of a built-in screen and higher price might put some people off. Read our full Echelon Smart Rower review.