NordicTrack RW900 review TL;DR: smart rowers don't get much smarter and more immersive than the RW900 thanks to its large screen, touch controls and extensive on-demand workout library.
The NordicTrack RW900 is an excellent rower, and not just any rower but a smart rowing machine that provides a number of features to help you get used to rowing at home easier. NordicTrack is famous for its home premium cardio machines, and the RW900 rower is a fine example of why people like the brand so much.
Not only does it take up less space when folded compared to other rowing machines, but it is also easy to operate the rower thanks to the automatic resistance adjustment system, a feature unique to NordicTrack machines. The large touch screen is just the icing on the cake and really helps further cement the RW900 among the best rowing machines.
NordicTrack RW900: Price and availability
The recommended retail price of the NordicTrack RW900 Smart Rower is £1,899 / $1,699 (+ $199 threshold delivery). The RW900 can be purchased directly from NordicTrack UK and NordicTrack US and selected third-party retailers.
NordicTrack RW900 review: Ergonomics
If you have ever ordered and assembled a cardio machine and/or IKEA furniture, you know the pain of trying to work out what that weird symbol means on the instruction manual or which component goes where. That is if you even looked at the manual in the first place and didn't just try to wing the construction process. It's all fun and games until you order an expensive NordicTrack rower and realise you haven't got the confidence to put it together.
The good news is that Nordictrack knows this full well: the rower will be assembled in your house once it's delivered by two engineers. When they leave, all you have to do is start rowing on the RW900.
The next issue to tackle is size: when ready to use, the Nordictrack RW900 is rather large. Thankfully, it's a foldable rowing machine, and when doubled over, it takes up a surprisingly small amount of space. The actual folding process might take some getting used to, though: as opposed to folding up the rail, you need to pull up the frame of the RW900 in middle, which in itself shouldn't be an issue, but since there is a huge monitor fixed to one side of the machine, it will require some strength to hold the thing when it's about to tip over.
Once folded, it's easy to move the NordicTrack RW900 around thanks to the transport wheels, but please be mindful of the weight of the machine before you tilt it.
The quickly adjust pedals can indeed be adjusted swiftly, although the handle is in the way when trying to clip the feet in, but not to a level where it would make the process overly frustrating. The SoftTouch handle is thick, making it comfortable to hold, and the thickness might even improve grip strength. The softness can certainly help avoid blisters on the hand.
NordicTrack RW900 review: Operating the rower
The NordicTrack RW900 is mains powered which is understandable given the huge 22" screen attached to the top of the rower. While other rowers might be able to self-power (way) smaller screens, the big screen needs the power to stay on and operate, especially when you aren't rowing. Disappointingly, there is no on-off switch on the RW900; the only way to power down the device is to unplug it; not a big issue, but it's worth noting.
As mentioned in the intro, the RW900 features an automatic resistance adjustment system that matches the resistance level of the rower to the iFit workout you're doing at the moment. You can also manually adjust the air resistance level using the airflow control dial on the fan itself. In my experience, the 20-something magnetic resistance levels are more than enough to play around with, and these can be adjusted on the screen, which is more convenient than unbuckling yourself and moving the physical dial on the fan.
The workout list in iFit is easy to peruse using the 22-inch touchscreen. Search results are laid out nicely and can be filtered and previewed before you go ahead with any workout. The only physical button is the volume control button at the bottom right-hand side of the screen. Much like on the phone, once pressed, you can also adjust the volume using the sliders on the touch screen.
NordicTrack RW900 review: iFit workouts
The large screen makes it super-immersive to stream iFit workouts on the NordicTrack RW900. Rowing as a type of exercise can be pretty hard to get into and has a steep learning curve, but with the beginner-friendly iFit workouts, you can ease yourself into the exercise gently.
Better still, you can find other things than just rowing workouts in the iFit library. Meditation, strength, exercise bike etc. workouts and live sessions can be found in the ever-expanding library, so if you have some dumbbells or kettlebells at home, you can make good use of them too with iFit.
My favourites were outdoor rowing workouts: with these, you can get fit and go travelling (virtually) at the same time. Outdoor locations include Lake Bled in Slovenia, Spanish rivers and even sessions captured on the River Thames. Thanks to the combination of POV-style videos and the immersive 22-inch screen, you can really get lost in your sessions and build strength and endurance without even realising you're working out.
During workouts, you can adjust magnetic resistance using the slider on the right-hand side of the screen. The stats displayed on the top of the screen, which include stroke rate, heart rate, the time elapsed etc., can be changed by tapping on them.
NordicTrack RW900 review: Verdict
The Nordictrack RW900 rower is a great, beginner-friendly rower for those with a larger budget to spend on home gym equipment. The large touchscreen makes this rower extremely user-friendly, not to mention the automatic resistance system and foldable, space-saver design that's ideal for smaller living spaces.
Thanks to the iFit workout library and live workouts, both amateurs and pros are likely to find at least a few dozens of exercises to follow along. The family membership also allows more than one person to set up a profile and track progress using the single rower alone.
If you are happy to spend this much money on a rower, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Nordictrack RW900. It will provide a fun full-body workout and improve fitness and endurance at home.
NordicTrack RW900 review: Also consider
The WaterRower is a brilliant concept, delivered almost flawlessly: it's pleasing to the eyes and the ears and works all your body in one smooth movement. The build quality is sublime, and it is extremely convenient to both work out with and move the rower around the house. Leave the Concept 2s for gyms; you want to get a WaterRower for your home.
Talking about Concept2: the Concept2 Model D (links to Concept2's website) is the gold standard pro rowers are measured against. These gym-ready rowers are renowned for their sturdiness and reliability, albeit they are geared towards pros and not recreational athletes. The Model D is not the quietest rowing machine and not the most feature-packed either, but in return, it costs half as much as the RW900 and can also be folded up when not in use.