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The Best Rowing Machines Under $500

Published on:

Last Updated on:

January 19, 2023
A woman trying the best rowing machine under $500 at the gym

A rowing machine is an excellent way to get a full-body workout, however, as is with any bigger piece of equipment, it can be quite pricey. The market is abundant in various premium rowing machines if you have thousands of dollars to spend. But what if you can’t afford to spend a small fortune on this piece of equipment?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you. We have found several brands that offer great rowing machines under $500 and have all you need for a challenging workout. Let’s help you find the best rowing machine under $500 that will help you take your fitness to a whole new level.

In a Hurry? Here are our best picks:

Product's nameMachine WeightWeight CapacityWeight CapacityBest ForMore Info
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine - SF-RW5713 , BlackOur Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine - SF-RW5713...
91.9 lbs300 lbs$$$Our Top PickSee at Amazon
Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower Rowing Machine with HIIT Workout, BlackGreat Alternative
Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower Rowing Machine with HIIT...
71.9 lbs300 lbs$$$Great AlternativeSee at Amazon
Fitness Reality Magnetic Rowing Machine with Bluetooth Workout Tracking Built-In, Additional Full Body Extended Exercises, App Compatible, Tablet Holder, Rowing Machines for Home UseThe Budget Option
Fitness Reality Magnetic Rowing Machine with Bluetooth Workout Tracking...
71.9 lbs250 lbs$$The Budget OptionSee at Amazon
Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine Interactive Rower and and Optional Exclusive SunnyFit™ App and Smart Bluetooth ConnectivityThe Smart Option
Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine Interactive Rower...
53.4 lbs285 lbs$$$The Smart OptionSee at Amazon

How Am I Qualified to Write About Rowing Machines?

I know quite a bit when it comes to rowing machines. Being a huge fitness junkie, one year into the pandemic, I realized that investing in my own gym and working out in the comfort of my own home can help me train more consistently, so I can reach my fitness goals and always be on top of my game.

So, as you can imagine, I religiously scoured the internet to find the best equipment and get the most bang for my buck. One of my sacred fitness essentials is the rowing machine, as it offers everything I need for an intense workout or simply a relaxing evening stride. And since outfitting a home gym can cost a small fortune, I did my best to find the best rowing machine under $500 .

Stick with me to learn what I found during my research.

Who Is This Guide For?

If you’re someone who is on a tight budget and just wants a decent rowing machine, hopefully you will find our ‘best rowing machine under $500’ very helpful. Although a budget rower may not come with all the bells and whistles that the more premium options have, it can still offer a realistic rowing workout if used right.

How We Picked the Best Products

We started our research by seeing what other credible websites had to say about the products we chose. Some of our best sources are the brands’ original websites, major forums and posts on Reddit and Quora, where users of different fitness levels express their satisfaction, concerns and overall experience regarding the products on our list.

We also noted the retail prices of the products on reputable marketplaces like Amazon and the brands’ official websites to make sure we stick to our $500 budget and don’t recommend anything more expensive.

How We Compared Each Product

In order to find the best budget rower and present you with premium quality models, we compared each rowing machine on this list based on the following criteria:

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.
  • Retail Price – We only selected the products that fall within our budget criteria, meaning, we only looked at budget rowing machine options that cost less than $500. Plus, we also made sure the products we chose offer great value for their price.
  • Build Quality and Ergonomics – In our search for the best budget rowing machine, we looked for rowers that are sturdy and durable, with a set of features that would suit most users’ needs. The devices we chose also have a high weight capacity, adjustable resistance levels, ergonomic design and adjustable foot pedals to suit users of different heights. 
  • Features and Specs – The rowers we compared offer a comprehensive range of additional features that will help users create custom workouts and make the most out of their training session. We paid special attention on features like varying resistance levels, tracking metrics, pre-programmed workouts and more.

The Products

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge – Our Top Pick

The Obsidian Surge by Sunny Health & Fitness is at the top of our list for a variety of reasons.

Thanks to its hydro blades, it can withstand powerful rowing strokes, all while maintaining various different levels of water resistance. Furthermore, it features an R2 fitness meter that is compatible with ANT+ heart rate technology, enabling users to measure their pulse as well as track how effective their training is. 

The Obsidian Surge’s digital monitor can track parameters such as calories, clock, calendar, distance passed, HRC/pulse (optional), SPM, strokes, temperature, time, time/500M and total strokes. It also offers fifteen built-in racing programs, and you can pair it with the SunnyFit App with the help of Bluetooth.

You’ll never feel like you have to strain while training on this water rowing machine as it comes with non-slip foot pedals with durable nylon Velcro straps and a wide-padded seat. It’s also incredibly durable due to its heavy-duty steel frame and can support up to 300 lbs.

Although the Obsidian Surge is the largest rowing machine on our list, it’s easy to fold and its non-marking rubber wheels make it easy to transport. It has a 3-year warranty for the frame and a 180-day warranty for its components.

From 2,455+ reviews, customers on Amazon have rated this rowing machine 4.4 out of 5 stars. It is highly recommended that two or more people be present for setup of this product due to its size and longer assembly process.

Pros

  • Compared to other machines on our list, this one simulates rowing in water better
  • Features impressive metrics on the performance monitor
  • The device is Bluetooth compatible and has 15 built-in racing programs

Cons

  • The price is just under $500
  • Some water rowing machines may have more advanced blade systems
  • Resistance must be adjusted by adjusting the water level

Key Specs

Dimensions78.90′′ L x 22.30′′ W x 32.67′′ H
Machine Weight91.9 lbs
Resistance TypeWater
Maximum User Weight Capacity300 lb

Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower – Great Alternative

If you’re looking for a water rowing machine that’s lightweight and easy to transport, the Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower may just be it. Featuring 6 water resistance levels, this excellent water rower has an angled water tank that slows down water more rapidly in between pulls.

What’s more, it features a big 4. 5” LCD display that has 3 HIIT intervals that can be customized, 5 standard workout goals, race options on 13 levels as well as 3 workout target goal settings of time, distance, and expended calories.

The Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower comes with 19″ wide-grip handlebars that are slip resistant and a cushioned seat, which make the machine extremely comfortable to use. The 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower has a weight capacity of 300 lbs. The machine comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Over 180 customers have rated this water rowing machine 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Customers report that it takes less than an hour to set up the Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rower, even though it’s a water rowing machine.

Pros

  • One of the most lightweight water rowers on the market
  • A big LCD screen that offers excellent metrics and training regimens
  • Very easy to assemble

Cons

  • Maximum resistance may not be enough for users with a more advanced fitness level 
  • Water level needs to be adjusted for resistance

Key Specs

Dimensions77.3” L x 20”W x 34”H
Machine Weight71.9 lbs
Resistance TypeWater
Maximum User Weight Capacity300 lbs

Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine – The Budget Option

If you have a very strict workout routine and are tech-savvy, this magnetic rower by Fitness Reality is an excellent choice for the price. This device features Bluetooth and a free MyCloud fitness app that’s compatible with both Android and iOS, enabling you to keep track of your training results. On its LCD screen, you can track your burned calories, your rowing count and other metrics. Plus, it features fourteen levels of resistance.

This rowing machine’s stabilizer front pads can support users up to 250 lbs and help them perform some additional exercises such as curls, triceps extensions, upright rows and others. It has a 1-year limited warranty. A total of 6,632 customers have rated the Fitness Reality Magnetic Rowing Machine 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviews indicate that this machine can be set up within an hour and is easy to assemble.

Pros

  • The most affordable model on our list
  • 14 levels of resistance
  • Offers Bluetooth connectivity and comes with free MyCloud fitness app

Cons

  • The digital monitor is not at eye-level
  • Longer than the rest of the magnetic rowing machines on our list
  • A small device holder 

Key Specs

Dimensions88.5″ L x 21.5″ W x 21.5″ H
Machine Weight63.6 lbs
Resistance TypeMagnetic
Maximum User Weight Capacity250 lbs

Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine Smart Rower – The Smart Option

The Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine offers Bluetooth connectivity and provides its users with the chance to follow workouts from expert trainers on the Sunny Health & Fitness SunnyFit App.

The machine comes with a digital monitor that displays parameters such as calories, time and total count, and it also has 16 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance. What’s more, this smart rower also has an upper-body rowing part on top.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine features a unique volute spring system that provides users with a smooth rowing experience. It also comes with foot pedals with non-slip features and straps to keep you secure and safe while working out. This smart rower can support users up to 285 lbs.

Its frame is covered by a 3-year warranty, and the other parts and components have a 180-day warranty. Users who have bought the machine swear by its ease of use and assembly – it only requires 5 steps to get it up and running.

Pros

  • Can be connected with Bluetooth and pairs with app
  • 16 different levels of resistance
  • Has a row area for upper body training

Cons

  • The digital monitor is not at eye-level
  • Keeps track of fewer metrics when compared to other machines
  • A small device holder 

Key Specs

Dimensions80.7″ L X 22.6″ W X 22.4″ H
Machine Weight53.4 lbs
Resistance TypeMagnetic
Maximum User Weight Capacity285 lbs

Rowing Machine Buying Guide

Type Of Resistance

Different types of rowing machines have different resistance methods – hydraulic, air or flywheel, magnetic resistance, and water rowers. Some people prefer models that are based on water-based resistance as they simulate water rowing, while others opt for hydraulic rowers due to their easy portability. 

Whichever type you choose, it will come with its set of specific features, pros and cons. Still, understanding the different types of resistance can help you better understand how rowing machines operate. What’s more, deciding which type you prefer, will help you to narrow down your choices. 

For example, if you have decided that you want an air rowing machine, and you only have $500 to spend, you won’t have many options to choose from, and you will want to find the best rowing machine under $500 to make the most out of your budget. 

Noise Level 

The noise level of a rower can be particularly important if you’ll be using the machine in a public space or if you live in an apartment. Magnetic rowers are one of the most popular types of rowing machines, in great extent due to their low noise level. Their resistance mechanism makes magnetic rowers the quietest type on the market. Plus, they are more compact than water and air rowers.

Ease of Maintenance 

It is important to consider the maintenance of any large piece of equipment before purchasing it. Many machines have detachable parts, making it easier to repair because only one part needs to be replaced. Professional assistance may be needed for complex machines, such as those with chains and fans. In addition, water rowers require periodic water changes/cleanings, unlike fan-based rowing machines.

How Will You Use The Rowing Machine?

Of course, you plan on exercising on it, but there are some other factors you will need to keep in mind before buying a rowing machine. Are you going to use it for residential or commercial purposes? This is an important thing to consider, as all indoor rowing machines can be used at home, but not all indoor rowers can be used commercially. 

Therefore, if you need a rower only for home use, you can opt for any model. Nevertheless, if you plan on using it in a commercial setting, go for a machine that’s commercial-grade and designed for heavy use.

Another important thing to consider is how many people will use the rower. If, for example, your whole family of four plans to row on it very often, you might want to buy a semicommercial rowing machine to make sure it withstands all the wear and tear for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rowing Machines 

Are rowing machines good for losing belly fat?

Working out on a rowing machine can be an excellent way to lose extra weight and belly fat. Plus, rowing machines come with different workout programs which users can use to get a full-body training, do cardio workouts, as well as build more defined muscles, including abs. All in all, with the right training programs, the proper intensity and frequency, rowing machines can be a great ally for losing belly fat when paired with a healthy diet.

Is 20 minutes of rowing enough?

Research has shown that endorphins, the feel-good neurochemicals that are released during exercise, usually kick in after working out for 20 minutes. Working out on an indoor rowing machine for 20 minutes can provide an effective full body workout, burning an average of 85 calories. But still, a 20-minute rowing machine workout won’t be enough if you’re looking to lose weight, improve your health and boost your endurance. For best results and optimal heart health, aim to workout 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

What type of rowing machine has the most resistance?

Air-magnetic rowers provide a greater resistance than standalone magnetic rowers. These combined machines offer dual resistance – their two mechanisms work against you as you pull against the rower’s weighted flywheel. Air-magnetic rowers have the perks of magnetic rowers combined with a dynamic air resistance.

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.
About Julien Raby