You don’t need anything except a rowing machine to get an amazing workout. But sometimes you just need a bit more motivation, or a bit more excitement in your rowing workouts.
That’s where the best rowing machine apps come in. It doesn’t matter what rowing machine you have or what your rowing skill level is—an app can add more fun and challenge to every workout on your indoor rowing machine.
We particularly like the EXR Rowing App. Known as the “Zwift for rowers”, it integrates with a number of different rowing machines, works with Apple, Android, Mac, and Windows, and brings a gamified experience to your rows.
But it’s not the only excellent option. Read through every review to find the app that’s going to spark excitement in you for every workout!
In A hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks
|Product's name||Best Overall||Best Virtual Reality Rowing App||Best for Serious Training||Best (Almost) Free Rowing Machine App|
|Best for Concept2 Rowing Machines||Best for Garmin Users||Best for Apple Users
|Verdict||A lot of fun. Suitable for all rowers with some experience and compatible with multiple rowers.||Virtual rality makes this exceptionalyl fun. Great for rowers who already have a VR headset, and quite affordable for such fun.||Well worth the fee, which isn't excessive anyway. Downside, only available on iOS.||Excellent basic app for tracking performance. Ideal for those who don't want anything complicated.||Perfect simple data atracking for Concept2, the most common rower out there.||Garmin is the most popular smartwatch brand. It makes sense to add this app for those who are big Garmin users.||Good for Apple users, more rowing-specific than Apple Fitness+.|
|User-Friendliness||Quiet, around 60 decibels||Quiet belt drive||Quiet||Quiet||Quiet, belt-drive||Quiet, belt drive||Quiet, belt drive|
|Performance Analysis||Yes, plus syncs with 3rd-party apps to save and compare your data.||Overview of progress||Yes, good analysis||Basic||Detailed analysis||Basic||Detailed post-workout data|
|Coaching / Workouts||Yes, many built-in training programs to choose from. Less for beginners, more for experienced rowers.||Virtual coach, more than 100 workouts pre-programmed on the app.||Guided workouts and personalized training programs||No, basic app for tracking rather than training.||Workout of the day||No||Workout of the day|
|Compatibility||Most rowers. Should be fine for almost anyone to use.||Concept 2 PM5 Rowing machine |
WaterRower via SmartRow
StairMaster HIIT Rower
FTMS-Bluetooth-enabled rowing machines
Any rowing machine in plain rowing mode with headset tracking
|Concept2, WaterRower, FluidRower. iOS only.||All rowing machines, big thumbs up.||Concept2 rower - while best for Concept2, it still limits those who row on other machines||Most Garmin devices, most rowers||Apple watch compatible, Concept2 rowers. Not helpful for Apple users who row on other machines.|
|Price||$9.99 per month, $96 per year (save 20%)||$11.99 per month||$12.50 per month, billed annually||$0.99 to $1.99, as cheap as you can get without being free.||Free||Free to download||Free to download, option to go premium (can share with friends and team mates)|
|Learn more||See at exrgame.com||See at holodia.com||See at asensei.com||See at Amazon||See at concept2.com||See at garmin.com||See at liverowing.com|
Why Trust BoxLife?
We’re all experienced rowers, personal trainers, and CrossFitters here at BoxLife Magazine. We’ve tried multiple fitness apps—rowing apps included—over the years, in the interest of performing at our best ourselves and upping the intensity and excitement of our workouts.
Between us all, we’ve tried just about every rowing app you can find. Some have been worthless. Others have been excellent. Many of us still use them today to give us a boost when we need something extra to push through those rowing workouts.
Who Should Get a Rowing App?
No matter what your skill or experience level on the rower, a rowing app could be a worthwhile investment for you. Beginners may find them to be helpful in terms of providing workouts, while more advanced rowers—who may be getting a little bored—will enjoy the variety and the gaming aspect.
A long as you have a rowing machine and a smartphone, a rowing app could be a fun way for you to drum up some more excitement about working out. It’s a particularly good idea if you:
- Struggle to find the motivation to get your workouts done
- Already enjoy gaming (outside of exercise)
- Get bored quickly during rowing sessions
- Have a competitive streak
How We Chose Our Top Rowing Machine Apps
This was the fun part! We’re all rowers here, so of course, we downloaded every one of these apps and played with them. We took note of what we liked. We jotted down the things that were confusing or annoying. And we compared notes with our other BoxLife team members to put together this list.
Just to make sure we were really choosing the greatest apps, we searched the internet to find real-person reviews. We scoured retail sites and forums like Reddit, chatted to people who’ve used each app, and found out real-world opinions.
How We Tested Each Rowing App
While testing each app, we paid particular attention to specific features to make sure the app works for almost everyone. Here’s what we looked at:
- Performance Analysis
The Best Rowing Machine App – Our Top Choices
EXR Rowing App – Best Overall
EXR Rowing App
A lot of fun. Suitable for all rowers with some experience and compatible with multiple rowers.
Considering its interactive experience and built–in training programs, the EXR Rowing app is extremely well-priced. We highly recommend it for rowers who want some fun along with hardcore training.
Why We Like It
Quite simply, we love how much fun this app is! It’s packed with interactive VR experiences to take your rowing from boring to exciting. If you’re looking for something to add some spice to your workouts, this is it.
The best part? It’s compatible with almost any rower you can think of, which is a welcome change from the Concept2-exclusive apps on the market.
The app includes multiple training programs you can follow, depending on your fitness goals. Aside from that, you can take part in virtual rows in some of the most spectacular locations.
Whatever you choose to do, you can hit milestones and unlock new features and achievements as you go. It’s extremely customizable, from your avatar to your goals, and you can customize workouts based on what really works for you.
In the app itself, you can view detailed reports of your performance metrics. If you want to, you can sync it up with third-party apps like Strava.
They offer a 5-day free trial, and the best part is they don’t count those days consecutively. If you skip a few days between rows, you just pick up right where you left off.
Thereafter, it’s just $9.99 per month, with a 20% discount if you pay annually. A bargain, if you ask us!
- Exceptional VR rowing experiences
- Compatible with most rowers
- Includes Power Zone training
- 5-day free trial available
- May be a little too high-level for beginners
|Performance Analysis||Yes, plus syncs with 3rd-party apps|
|Coaching/Programs||Yes, training programs|
|Cost||$9.99 per month, $96 per year (save 20%)|
This fun and interactive training app is perfect for just about every rower. It’s nicely priced too, so we highly recommend it for everyone. Try the free trial—you’ll be hooked!
HoloFit – Best Virtual Reality Rowing App
Best Virtual Reality Rowing App
Virtual rality makes this exceptionalyl fun. Great for rowers who already have a VR headset, and quite affordable for such fun.
Gamers, this one’s for you. If you need to get away from the computer for a bit and get some exercise in, HoloFit is the best way to do it… Because it’s gamified exercise.
Why We Like It
If you’ve got a VR headset and a rowing machine, this app is a must-have. There’s no better way to add excitement to your workout than to immerse yourself in a virtual reality world where you can enjoy rowing experiences like never before.
With 6 workout modes, you’ll have something for every mood. Journey mode allows you to row through spectacular locations while collecting trophies and meeting goals. Zen mode removes the competition and the statistics and just lets you row through beautiful places.
You can race against AI rowers or others in the HoloFit community. Set your own cardio goals and keep track of your progress as you get closer to them and pass them.
If you’re the competitive type, you can aim to get to the top of multiple real-time leaderboards, split by country, sport, or specific workout mode. Virtual Coach allows you to customize your rows as you wish, and all workout data is saved for your perusing later.
You do need to buy your own VR headset if you don’t have one already, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re the type who loves gaming. No matter your fitness level, this app is too fun to NOT exercise.
And you really don’t even need an expensive rower to get this kind of immersive experience. This app gets a thumbs-up from us at BoxLife!
- Row in exciting, exotic locations
- 6 workout modes to choose from
- Can train in Multiplayer mode
- Race Mode for extra challenge
- You need to buy a VR headset separately
|Performance Analysis||Overview of progress|
|Coaching/Workouts||Virtual coach, more than 100 workouts|
|Compatibility||Concept 2 PM5 Rowing machine WaterRower via SmartRow StairMaster HIIT Rower TechnoGym SkillRow Whipr Rowing FTMS-Bluetooth-enabled rowing machines Any rowing machine in plain rowing mode with headset tracking|
|Cost||$11.99 per month|
The Most Fun App for Rowers Who Game
Gamified exercise at its best, we highly recommend this app for anyone who wants to up the excitement and boost their rowing performance. It’s affordable and well worth its price tag.
Asensei – Best for Serious Training
Best for Serious Training
Well worth the fee, which isn’t excessive anyway. Downside, only available on iOS.
Asensei themselves say that they’re about “teaching not tracking”. If you’re serious about training on the rowing machine, this app can help.
Why We Like It
Your rowing sensei. Train with members of British Rowing, but with workouts personalized to your and your fitness goals. Whatever you’re training for, there’s a customized multi-week program on the app for you.
Depending on what programs you use, you’ll also get verbal guidance to keep you on track as you’re exercising. It tracks your rowing stroke rate, 500m split time, and more, informing you along the way if you need to ease up or go harder.
The app is free to download, and you can trial workouts from a variety of different programs. However, considering how excellent this app is for training, it’s worth paying the monthly subscription fee to get all the features. There’s also a family discount, and you’ll get a discount on an annual subscription.
- Personalized multi-week programs
- Guided workouts included
- Verbal guidance based on your data
- Train alongside British Olympic hopefuls
- Not compatible with all rowers
|Coaching/Workouts||Guided workouts and personalized training programs|
|Compatibility||Concept2, WaterRower, FluidRower|
|Cost||$12.50 per month, billed annually|
Great for Serious Rowers
Train with Asensei, and you’ll be training alongside professional rowers. British Rowing uses the app for their training, so you’ll be able to row alongside Olympic hopefuls. What could be more motivating than that?
RowKeeper – Best (Almost) Free Rowing Machine App
Best (Almost) Free Rowing Machine App
Excellent basic app for tracking performance. Ideal for those who don’t want anything complicated.
Simple, easy, and uncomplicated. But also, not very exciting. If you love tracking data to compare your workouts day to day, this app is perfect.
Why We Like It
There’s nothing difficult about this app. If you’re expecting something fancy, this app may not be the right one for you. You’ll have to input all your workout information yourself, so take care to input everything accurately.
This app is basically a rowing data journal. It’s easy and handy, and you can easily compare your workout to past workouts and see how you’re progressing.
The good news is that because it doesn’t connect to anything, you can use it with any rower—home, gym, friends’, and so on. Available on both iOS and Android!
- Compatible with all rowers
- Excellent for data tracking
- Very easy to use
- Available for iOS and Android devices
- No coaching/workouts
|Compatibility||All rowing machines|
|Cost||$0.99 to $1.99|
For Self-Reliant Rowers
This app is almost free and while it’s pretty much a manual tool, it’s a great way to track your data if you’re a rower who likes to “journal” your experience.
ErgData – Best for Concept2 Rowing Machines
Best for Concept2 Rowing Machines
Perfect simple data atracking for Concept2, the most common rower out there.
Concept2 users, this app is all you need to track your progress, add some fun to your rowing workouts, and best of all, it’s completely free.
Why We Like It
ErgData is free to download and it’s an excellent choice for all Concept2 rowers. Not only does it help you connect with the Concept2 community, but it offers a bunch of features that enhance your rowing.
You can set up your own workouts with ease, save favorites, track your progress, and analyze your results. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easy to set up complex interval workouts.
The app syncs with the Concept2 Online Logbook, but it also links up to third-party platforms easily, like Strava or even Garmin. You can also sync it up with your Apple watch if you use one.
Detailed analysis of your workout metrics after each workout will please even the more hardcore of data fans, plus it’ll give you valuable insight into how you can improve.
You can also customize your display so you always see the data you want when you look at your app. Once you’re linked up with the Online Logbook, you can also take part in challenges on the app, to feed your competitive streak!
- Free to download and use
- Connect to third-party apps with ease
- Create workouts on the Performance Monitor
- Customizable display
- Not able to switch to other machines if you happen to use a different one
|Performance Analysis||Detailed analysis|
|Coaching/Workouts||Workout of the day|
All Concept2 Users Need
You can’t go wrong with a free app that was created by the same company your rowing machine was! It’s the ideal app for all Concept2 rowers, whether you have one at home or use them at the gym.
ErgIQ – Best for Garmin Users
Best for Garmin Users
Garmin is the most popular smartwatch brand. It makes sense to add this app for those who are big Garmin users.
While ErgData connects to Garmin, if you’re a dedicated Garmin user, you may prefer ErgIQ, which is a Garmin-specific rowing app. It’s the perfect combination of your favorite watch and your favorite sport.
Why We Like It
Get your data directly on your wrist or through your smartphone app with this handy app. It’s simple (and free) to download, and you can start tracking your workouts immediately.
There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s for tracking and tracking alone, so don’t expect guided workouts or customizable features. But if you’re a Garmin owner and want to track your data for comparison or insight, this is an excellent choice.
- Data on your watch or your smartphone
- Compatible with a wide range of Garmin devices
- Simple and easy to use
- Some Garmins are still not compatible
|Compatibility||Most Garmin devices, most rowers|
|Cost||Free to download|
Perfect for Garmin Users
You can’t go wrong with this easy-to-install, free, simple app. Get your rowing data right on your wrist or on your smartphone.
LiveRowing – Best for Apple Users
Best for Apple Users
Good for Apple users, more rowing-specific than Apple Fitness+.
If you’re an Apple user, we haven’t forgotten about you! Here’s the app we recommend for rowers who use Apple devices. There’s one caveat, though… It only works with the Concept2 rower.
Why We Like It
Sync up to your Apple watch or phone and store all your rowing data for analysis and comparison. It’s free to download, and comes with an array of features that are excellent for a free app.
Your workout of the day means you never have to wonder what to do when you get onto the rower. When you’re done, you’ll be presented with an in-depth analysis of your efforts, which will be saved for later reference and comparison to see your progress.
Compete against others in the Concept2 community for an added level of challenge. If you find that there’s not enough in this app for you, you can upgrade to premium for a much more customized experience.
- Workout of the day
- Detailed post-workout data
- Take part in competitions to challenge your skill
- Become part of the Concept2 rowing community
- Only works with Concept2 rower
|User-Friendliness||Easy to use|
|Performance Analysis||Detailed post-workout data|
|Coaching/Workouts||Workout of the day|
|Compatibility||Apple watch compatible, Concept2 rowers|
|Cost||Free to download, option to go premium|
Apple users who row on the Concept2 will get good use out of this app. Unfortunately, Apple users who row on other machines will need to find a different app (possibly not an Apple-specific one).
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine App
We’ve listed our favorite options for you, but if you want to shop around a little more, here are the app options we recommend looking at.
This is the most important factor to check before choosing a rowing machine app. Many apps out there are excellent choices, but are only compatible with the Concept2. If you have any other type of rower, they’ll unfortunately be useless to you.
Check what rowers the app is compatible with before downloading it, even if it is free. You don’t want to get excited about an app, only to find out that it won’t work on your rowing machine!
There are few things more frustrating than a difficult-to-navigate app! Your rowing experience won’t be enhanced if you have to fight your way through the app every time you want to use it.
Choose an app that’s user-friendly and easy to navigate through. Of course, every app requires a bit of experimenting to figure it out, but it should be quite straightforward and easy to remember once you’ve figured it out.
You’ll want to make sure the app you download offers the kind of workouts you enjoy. Does it just give you workout options to follow? Is there an option to create your own workouts and track your progress? Does it gamify the experience? Are there programmable workouts that you can customize to you?
It’s important to do your research on the types of workouts the app offers. Some may also offer real-time online rowing classes or even coaching sessions catered to you. Others have video workouts that aren’t live. Decide what you truly need from a rowing app in terms of workout options before you download one, as many of them offer different things.
Finding a free app that really works for you is first prize! But it’s also important to consider what sort of budget you’re willing to allocate to this app in case you can’t find a free option that you like.
In some cases, paying for an app might motivate you to use it more, which can have a positive effect on your training. Ultimately, this one is up to you!
What’s the Best Free Rowing App?
It’s hard to say which free rowing app is the best, as it depends on your specific needs. The truth is, most free rowing apps are designed for the Concept2 only, like ErgData, which we recommend if you’re using a Concept2 and want a free app.
However, many rowers consider RowKeeper to be one of the best “free” indoor rowing apps. It costs a dollar or two for lifetime access, but it’s practically free! And the best part is, you can use it no matter what rower you’re using. It’s a little more low-level, but it’s excellent for tracking your data.
Do I Need a Rowing App?
You don’t need a rowing app to be able to get an amazing workout on the rower. All you need is the rower! That being said, rowing apps can make rowing more fun, or easier for beginners if they offer online classes.
If you’re still learning proper rowing form, it’s good to know that indoor rowing workout apps can’t replace an actual rowing coach! Make sure you’re past common rowing mistakes before you invest in an app—no remote rowing app can perfect your form.
Can I Use My Rowing App At the Gym?
In most cases, you can easily connect your rowing machine app to the rowers at the gym. Most gyms use Concept2 rowers, which just about all the best rowing machine apps are compatible with.
However, it’s a good idea to double-check what rowers your gym uses before getting a rowing app, so you can be sure they’re compatible rowing machines with your chosen app.
Are Rowing Machine Apps Good for Beginners?
Beginners may find some rowing apps a little difficult to work with, but you do get beginner-friendly rower apps that can help you learn and develop a love for rowing!
The key is to find an app that isn’t complicated but still provides enough value for a beginner who needs some guidance. Gamified apps may be too high-level for those who haven’t got their form right yet or who don’t have the endurance to push through competitive settings.
One of the great things about most rowing apps is that you don’t need an expensive machine. Low-cost rowing machines are just as good, if you choose apps for rowing that are compatible with multiple models.