One year into the pandemic, it is evident that gym closures and at-home life have led to increasing popularity of at-home fitness equipment, from exercise bikes and ellipticals to treadmills and dumbbells. Gyms across the country took a major hit in 2020 because of Covid-19 closures, but experts predict they will be “overwhelmed with business” in 2021. If you’ve already invested in building your at-home gym or if the thought of working out in a crowded space is daunting, though, you may not be considering running back to your local facility anytime soon.
Brad McLam, the director of business development at exercise equipment retailer Gym Source, previously told us that rowing machines aren’t always top of mind for shoppers, but they should be. “They can truly give a really good workout for areas of the body that are very difficult to train in other ways, such as the hip and back. Both of those are very important for overall conditioning,” McLam explained.
Best rowing machines under $500
Investing in any large piece of fitness equipment can often be deterred given hefty price tags, but there are a variety of more affordable options — at the expense of some bells and whistles, of course. To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve gathered highly-rated rowing machines under $500.
This rowing machine from Fitness Reality is Bluetooth-enabled so it can pair with the free MyCloudFitness App (available on iOS and Android) to track your workout results and set goals. There are 14 levels of magnetic tension resistance to choose from, so that you can alternate between easier and more challenging workouts. The pivoting foot pedals allow for a larger range of motion and their patent pending front stabilizer footpads are designed for additional exercises like tricep extensions, standing shoulder presses and more. The rower is built on wheels so you can easily move it out of the way once you are done working out.
This rowing machine from Sunny Health & Fitness is designed with a large eight bladed fan that generates resistance the faster you row, and a fan helps cool you down. The handlebars of the rower are padded with a foam grip to prevent slippage. A digital monitor tracks your time, stroke count, calories burned and repetitions per minute. This rower also comes with wheels and is foldable for easier storage.
XTERRA’s Fitness ERG220 rower features eight levels of manual resistance using a magnetic flywheel that is designed to give you smooth and quiet strokes. The LCD monitor keeps track of your time, total stroke count, distance, pulse and more. The seat is 9.5 inches high for easy mounting/dismounting, and it sports an ergonomically molded cushion for comfort. The handlebars are padded and the pivoting foot pedals have adjustable straps for added comfort.
Marcy’s rowing machine is built from premium steel that is meant to make it both sturdy and durable, according to the brand. For an added challenge, turn the tension knob on the rower to your desired resistance. The LCD screen functions as an odometer and shows you time, speed, calories burned and total stroke count. There is also a pulse monitor included and a place to put your water bottle while exercising.
The Schwinn Crewmaster rower has ten levels of magnetic resistance, and you can choose between manually adjustable resistance or built-in magnetic resistance. The LCD console is adjustable so that you can find the best view to track your workout. The oversized steel seat rail allows for the cushioned seat to slide perfectly with every stroke, according to the brand. You can also easily fold and wheel away the rower when not in use.
Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.