WaterRower review: a stealthy rowing machine that'll give you a full body workout

You'll love it for the experience and your family and neighbours will thank you for getting such a quiet machine instead of a treadmill

T3 Platinum Award
WaterRower review
(Image credit: WaterRower)
T3 Verdict

The WaterRower is a brilliant concept, delivered almost flawlessly: it's pleasing to the eyes and the ears and work all your body in one smooth movement. The build quality is sublime and it is extremely convenient to both work out with and to move around the house. Leave the Concept 2s for gyms, you want to get a WaterRower for your home.

Reasons to buy
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    Great looks

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    Hassle free workout

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  • +

    Ergonomic seat

  • +

    Large display

  • +

    Sturdy yet portable

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Feet fastener can come lose during longer workouts

I have a confession to make: I always wanted to try a WaterRower. I love the way it looks and I envied people online who did review videos of it. So when we were offered a chance to do a WaterRower review, I was over the moon. My only concern was: will it deliver on my sky-high expectations? Good news: it did.

The WaterRower Natural Series sits on the top of our best rowing machine (opens in new tab) list as of now and I can't see it being dethroned anytime soon. It wins on aesthetics, ease of use and sound emission, or more like the lack of sound emission.

• Buy the WaterRower Natural Series directly from waterrower.com (opens in new tab)

After spending a few weeks giving my back a run for its money, I can safely say this: the WaterRower is one of the best home gym (opens in new tab) equipment you can buy, hands down. It will give you the impression of rowing on real water, in the comfort of your own home. What more can you possibly ask for?

WaterRower review

Simple lines and straightforward design characterises the WaterRower

(Image credit: Future)

Waterrower review: ergonomics and aesthetics

As soon as you lay your eyes on the WaterRower, you'll know it was a worthwhile investment. It looks robust, well-constructed out of quality wood. Despite the assumptions that it will be too heavy to transfer out of the way once you done exercising, it is surprisingly to easy to move it around, even in a small flat as mine, using the wheel at the front on the rower.

On second look, you will admire the simplicity of the rower; it just looks uncomplicated and non-threatening, something that won't require a lot of maintenance and will serve you well since there isn't many things to go wrong about it. This notion is further strengthened by learning that it doesn't require any external power source either.

The water tub at the end of the rower is big enough to provide considerable amount of resistance if needed but not bulky enough to be in the way.

Even the handle is well-made: when rowing, it feels like you are rowing with real oars. The sound of water rushing around in the resistance tub further reinforces the feeling of open-water rowing.

The seat is comfortable enough, not too soft and it has indentations so your bottom sits on it comfortably and you don't slide off the seat during workouts. It runs on the track smoothly, not taking away from the rowing experience the slightest.

The feet fastener taints the perfect rower image a bit: in the name of simplicity I assume, they used the fast release variety and it can come a bit loose during vigorous exercising. They won't come completely loose but will give way a bit after 30 minutes of rowing.

WaterRower review

You can just start rowing at any point

(Image credit: Future)

Waterrower review: ease of use

Probably the best thing about the WaterRower is how easy it is to work out with it. Once it has been laid flat, you just press the on button on the monitor and off you go.

The concept of the Waterrower is simple yet effective; it delivers a great rowing experience that is physically demanding and mentally soothing. As you row, the water will provide stronger resistance the harder you row; but in the same time, it will emit a sound that is comforting, creating a surreal yet pleasant experience.

I had concerns about the 'harder you row, the more resistance you'll feel' concept before, but not anymore. The system works perfectly and if you would like to keep your workout simple yet effective, the WaterRower will help you achieve this goal.

The engineers and product designers behind the WaterRower had a long hard look at the fundamentals of rowing and stripped away all the unnecessary features, leaving behind the essence of indoor rowing, combined with the sensation of open-water rowing.

Simply put: all you have to do is start rowing at the beginning and stop when you are done. Simple as that.

WaterRower review

The S4 monitor displays all details with great clarity

(Image credit: Future)

Waterrower review: S4 perfomance monitor

The S4 Performance Unit is straightforward to use. If you want to row without any particular goal in mind, just press the power on button and you can start rowing straight away. Once you start your first stroke, the monitor will start counting all metrics from there.

The S4 monitor displays the how many strokes you do per minute, the intensity, the time spent exercising and the distance travelled. The screen is large enough so you can easily read it whilst rowing.

You can also set simple time/distance goals using the workout button. On top of this, you could also set distance interval workouts, meaning you can set timed sets with rest times to spice up your workouts a bit.

The latter function is particularly good for beginners who will otherwise find it difficult to row for longer periods of time. You can set up a three times three minutes workout with a minute rest in between.

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WaterRower review

The WaterRower is a worthwhile investment

(Image credit: Future)

Waterrower review: the verdict

Getting a WaterRower is an investment. By purchasing one, you are investing in your health in a fashionable and functional way. The subtle lines of the WaterRower makes this rowing machine an elegant ornament and something you won't want to hide away, even when it's not in use.

The WaterRower looks and feels great; it is made out of solid wood and has a robust, long-lasting feel to it. This doesn't mean it's not portable: using the wheels at the bottom, you can move it around easily in your house.

The seat is ergonomically designed and runs smoothly on the track. The handle is simple, yet it doesn't tire out or rub your hands as you exercise. The fastener holding your feet is probably the only thing that chips away from the perfect rowing experience, if only slightly: during strenuous rowing, it can come a bit loose. On the upside, it's easy to get in and out of the footrests.

Resistance is provided by the water and by you, since the harder you row, the more resistance the water will provide. Even knowing this, though, you will row harder, just to hear the water flowing around in the tub. This provides a surreal, intensely calm feeling: your mind calms as your body tires itself out.

The S4 monitor is easy to use and shows all you need to know as you row, including distance, time, intensity and strokes per minute.

Rowing with the WaterRower is unmissable experience and something you should try if you are interested in indoor rowing and exercising in general. Rowing is an excellent (and challenging) way to improve your cardio health and to build muscle strength. The WaterRower will do it all, without bothering your family or the neighbours, since it's as quiet as a ninja.

• Buy the WaterRower Natural Series directly from waterrower.com (opens in new tab)

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).