WaterRower review – Beautifully crafted, whisper-quiet rowing machine

The WaterRower is one of the best rowing machines around – quiet, beautiful and workout-ready

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 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 around the house. Leave the Concept 2s for gyms; you want to get a WaterRower for your home.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sturdy built

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    Provides a hassle-free workout

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    Near-silent operation

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    Ergonomic seat

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    Sturdy yet portable

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Feet fastener can come lose during longer workouts

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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 reviews 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 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.

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 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 and well-constructed out of quality wood. Despite the assumption that it will be too heavy to transfer out of the way once you are done exercising, it is surprisingly easy to move around, even in a small flat as mine, using the wheel at the front of the rower.

On second look, you will admire the simplicity of the WaterRower; it looks uncomplicated and non-threatening, something that won't require a lot of maintenance and will serve you well since there aren't many things to go wrong with 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 a 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, not too hard – 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 in the slightest. The feet fastener taints the perfect rower image a bit: in the name of simplicity (I assume), they used the fast-release straps, and it can come a bit lose during vigorous exercising. They won't come completely loose but will give way a bit after 30 minutes of rowing.

WaterRower review

The fast-release straps could come a bit lose during vigorous exercising

(Image credit: Future)

WaterRower review – Ease of use

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 with the harder you row; but at 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 I tried it, but it's brilliant. The system works perfectly, and if you would like to keep your workout simple yet effective, the WaterRower will help you achieve this goal. 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 button on the monitor and off you go.

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 the details with great clarity

(Image credit: Future)

Waterrower review – The S4 performance 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. It displays 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 three times three minutes workouts with a minute rest in between.

WaterRower review

(Image credit: Future)

WaterRower review – Verdict

Getting a WaterRower is a considerable investment, but you're investing in your health in a fashionable and functional way. The subtle lines of the WaterRower make 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 S4 monitor is easy to use and shows all you need to know as you row, including distance, time, intensity and strokes per minute.

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 could come loose. On the upside, it's easy to get in and out of the footrests.

Resistance is provided by the water and by you; the harder you row, the more resistance the WaterRower 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. Rowing with the WaterRower is an unmissable experience and something you should try if you are interested in indoor rowing and exercising in general.

WaterRower review – Also consider

Wouldn't it be great if the WaterRower had a similarly large display as the Peloton Bike? You should be so lucky, as there is one: it's called the Ergatta Rower. Featuring a durable hardwood design, space-saving ergonomics, and a growing library of gamified workouts, the Ergatta Rower rowing machine blurs the line between fashionable furniture and functional fitness. Read our full Ergatta Rower review.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.