Among some of the most efficient ways to stay fit and in shape, rowing is at top. It benefits all important muscles and at the same time gives you a good cardio session. Many rowing machines which you will see a lot are mostly expensive, but there is no doubt about their performance and effect on your health.
However, you can also go for the best rowing machine under 500. It won’t lack a lot and will give you the same level of health benefits which an expensive one will give. Below, we have reviewed 5 best rowing machines for under 500. Also, there is a buying guide included alongside information on what you will get for spending 500 dollars on a rowing machine.
Best Rowing Machine Under $500 (2020):
- XTERRA Fitness Water Rower
- Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Magnetic
- Sunny Health & Fitness Water
- Stamina X Air Rower
- TUNTURI R30 Cardio Fit
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What do I get for Spending $500 on a Rowing Machine?
Let’s see, you may think if an expensive and budget rowing machine will have same health benefits or not? Is there something very important missing in a best cheap rowing machine or is it the same? Well, in simple words, health benefits and effect on your physical shape will be the same. The difference however, lies in the features and design level. The best budget rowing machine that you buy is still a rower. But it will lack some design enhancements which may or may not be an issue for you.
Almost all rowing machines come with a performance monitor, built-in. It calculates lots of metrics on your rowing sessions and then shows you all the data. But the way it interacts with you or other devices is different. If you spend a good amount, you will get a performance monitor that could be connected to other devices like your smartphone of a chest strap for heart rate. But a budget performance monitor, in most cases, will only record the metrics and keep it limited to itself. You won’t get the records of your past and also would not be able to connect it to other devices from the outside.
With respect to how a rowing machine operates, you will get the same mechanism. But speaking of how portable a rower is and can you easily assemble it, there is a big question? With more money, you will be able to get a rowing machine that can be folded, will be lightweight and will have a design which won’t annoy you if there is a need of moving it to another room. However, a budget rowing machine sometimes will be the same shape as it is, you won’t be able to easily store it or take it somewhere else. This may not be that big of an issue, but this is the truth.
Speaking of comfort which a rowing machine provides and should provide, the footrests, handle and the seat of almost all best rowing machines are nicely padded and designed to provide maximum comfort. However, cutting off the cost brings the material of padding to a lower level. The grip of the handle and the way its seat is molded might not be what an expensive rowing machine will offer. But this is not going to be that big of an issue if you don’t own an expensive rowing machine. If you are buying it for the first time, or you have been using budget rowers previously, it will feel just fine to you.
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Best Rowing Machine under 500 Reviews
1. XTERRA Fitness ERG600W Water Rower
- Easy to Store
- Simple Performance Monitor
- Machine Weight: 82 lbs
- Max Weight Limit: 300 lbs
- Dimensions: 80.7″ L x 22″ W x 33″ H
Among best home rowing machines under 500, XTERRA Fitness rests at the top. It is a water rowing machine with maximum comfort and a stylish design. One can easily set it up anywhere in their living space and take the full out of it. Also, it is very easy to store because it can stand tall while not in use and by doing so, the machine occupies very little space. The water tank on it makes the overall looks good, also there are different levels on the tank which indicates different levels of resistance. About the dimensions and weight, everything is standard. It’s not something that may bother you later on.
As for the comfort, the seat and handle are pretty comfortable. They have nice padding on them, making things very easy while in your rowing session. However, the footrests are not comfortable to a level where you may keep quiet about it, they actually make you somewhat annoyed. Next comes the performance monitor on it. What you get here, is a built-in monitor with good features and is adjustable too. Using it, you can check your total time, calories you burn, strokes per minute and even the room temperature. But that’s it, you do not get any connectivity features or memory on it. However, the level of health benefits and cardio effect you get using this machine is quite good.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Magnetic
- Advanced Fitness Monitor
- No Noise
- Ugly Looks
- Machine Weight: 80 lbs
- Max Weight Limit: 300 lbs
- Dimensions: 87″ L x 21.5″ W x 23″ H
Next up is the Sunny Health & Fitness RW5508, one of the best magnetic rowing machines under 500. It is lightweight, comfortable and at the same time offers a number of useful features. The body of it is made of steel and aluminum, making it a lightweight rowing machine. Since it is magnetic in nature, this means the resistance level needs to be set by default. So you get 10 levels of resistance which you alter using a knob. In addition, there is an extra tension resistance for the most intense rowing sessions. Also, it comes with transportation wheels which makes moving it around pretty easy.
The seat, footrests and handle is comfortable for longer sessions. The handle of it is made of non-slip material which makes the holding process effective. And the footrests of it come with grip patterns which further adds to the overall rowing effect. The LCD on it is an advanced one, it can be wirelessly connected to chest straps for measuring your heart rate. And by itself, it can measure a number of metrics including calories burned, speed, distance covered and strokes per minute. Finally, as mentioned it is a magnetic rowing machine which means it is dead silent. This gives you the freedom to use it at any time of day.
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3. Sunny Health & Fitness Water Rower
- Portable Design
- Low Max Weight Capacity
- Machine Weight: 81 lbs
- Max Weight Limit: 250 lbs
- Dimensions: 78″ L x 22.05″ W x 33.43″ H
Sunny Obsidian Surge is one of the best rowing machines you will come across. It is durable because of the design, comes with an exceptional fitness monitor and also is a portable type which you can store or switch between the rooms easily. The frame of it is commercial grade which makes it durable and shock-resistant. At the same time, it is designed such that it does not occupy a lot of space and looks good. More, it has got transportation wheels for easy movement and can stand tall for storage. So, if you do not have too much space around, you can just use it and then store it at some corner.
Speaking of comfort, its seat and handle are non-slip, making it one of the top rowing machine under 500. Also, the height and cord is at such a level which gives you a maximum positive effect. Since it is a water rower, so it has a water tank in it which comes in transparent blackish color, enhancing the looks of the overall rower. Additionally, it comes equipped with an R2 fitness monitor which makes things fun. Besides measuring important metrics like strokes and calories, it also is capable of getting connected to ANT+ devices like a chest strap for measuring your heart rate. This makes it a good one for keeping track of how good you’ve been.
4. Stamina X Air Rower
- Machine Weight: 63 lbs
- Max Weight Limit: 250 lbs
- Dimensions: 78.5″ L x 18″ W x 29″ H
Stamina X is an air rower which means it is a loud one but at the same time, the resistance is controlled by how hard you pull. It has a nice design which looks pleasing and at the same time is a foldable one. The make of it is durable which makes it good enough for absorbing shocks. And so this way, you get to experience the best rowing. More, the chain of it is a durable one as well. No matter how hard you pull the chain, it will never come off. This makes it easy for those who want to go for intense workout sessions.
Speaking of comfort, the footrests it has are pivoting in nature. This further adds to how the overall rowing session goes. All your muscles are intact and you get the full benefit out of it. It has transportation wheels on it, so you can easily fold the machine and take it anywhere. Also, the weight of it is much lower compared to what other rowers have. This is mainly because there is no big water tank, rather a light flywheel for creating resistance. The performance monitor you get with it is a simple one which will record all necessary metrics and is accurate too.
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5. TUNTURI R30 Cardio Fit
- Foldable Design
- Transportation Wheels
- Simple Fitness Monitor
- Machine Weight: 57 lbs
- Max Weight Limit: 242 lbs
- Dimensions: 75″ L x 19″ W x 27.5″ H
Last but not least, we have TUNTURI R30 which is an advanced rowing machine with good features and deserves to be among the best rowing machines under 500. It is lightweight compared to others and comes with good looks. The design and color of it make it look some modern-day equipment and in fact, it actually is. It is magnetic in nature and lets you choose from 8 different resistance levels. More, it is foldable and very easy to assemble or disassemble. This gives you the freedom to take it back into the storage if you do not have a lot of space for it. Also, it has a dedicated space for putting your tablet in it, this is if you do not want to stay away from your tablet even while rowing.
The LCD on it, which is the fitness monitor is a simple one. It records all important metrics which keeps you in light of what you’ve been doing. You can check your speed, distance covered and calories burned etc. Also, the footrests, handle and seat is nicely padded. So you do not feel anything bad while performing your intense rowing sessions. As for the design, most magnetic rowers usually have ugly looks. But this one here is something which will look good placed anywhere in your home.
Rowing Machine Buying Guide
Before you decide and buy a rowing machine, there are certain things which you need to consider. This way you will know what you are buying and chances are, you will get exactly what you wanted to have as your best home rowing machine under 500.
Basically, the main thing which makes a rowing machine is the resistance it creates when you pull the handle. This resistance can be of many types. Each type of resistance come with its own pros and cons. These 5 top rowing machines under 500 reviewed above are from all types of resistances. Widely, there are four types of resistance, each has been explained easily below.
- Water Resistance: Rowing machines which have water in them for creating resistance, are the best type. People prefer these rowing machines for a number of reasons. First, they look good, the water tank in them adds an aesthetic feel to the overall machine. Then, another good thing is that these machines do not produce noise and feels good when you use them. But at the same time, water rowers are the most expensive one. In such rowing machines, the water resistance can not be set to a specific number. Harder you pull the handle, more is the resistance.
- Magnetic Resistance: Magnetic rowing machines are dead silent, there is no noise because the resistance is created between magnetic plates. These rowing machines are generally small in size and they do not accommodate too much space. Also, their weight is low because of the way they are designed. But the thing with magnetic rowers is that the resistance level here does not change with how hard you pull the handle. Here you will have to adjust the resistance pre-rowing and then do your workout with same resistance throughout.
- Air Resistance: Rowing machines using air as the resistance mechanism, use a flywheel which rotates when you pull the handle. It is same as a water rower, harder you pull, more is the resistance. It is good for those who want to go for serious workout sessions and get the most out of a rowing machine. Air rowing machines are mostly budget-friendly, but the downside to them is that they produce a lot of noise because of the flywheel which rotates and disturbs the normal air in the surroundings.
- Hydraulic Resistance: You will also come across some rowing machines which use Hydraulic principle for creating resistance. These rowing machines are good for the effect on more muscles compared to other rowers. They are dead silent, same as a magnetic rower. But they bring the same issue as that of a magnetic rower, the resistance does not change on the go. You have to set the resistance level by-default and then go on for your remaining session with the same resistance.
Next comes the fact, if a rowing machine is foldable or not? If a machine is capable of being folded, it brings a number of benefits. If you live in a small space, you can always fold it back after you are done with your rowing session. Also, if at any point of time you need to move the machine to another room or store it somewhere, it could be done easily.
You need to check the dimensions of a rowing machine before you buy it. If later on, you get it shipped and get to know that it won’t fit wherever you want to place it, it would be a total failure. So make sure you check the height, width and length in advance.
Wooden vs Metal
Mostly, rowing machines are either made of wood or some metal. This totally depends on what you like and what will best suit the interior of your room or home. Wooden rowing machines look aesthetically good and they tend to be more shock absorbent. Metals on the other side may not look too good inside a home, but such rowing machines are lightweight compared to wooden and are usually cheap too.
Finally, an important thing you need to check on is the performance monitor for a rowing machine. Almost all rowing machines come with a built-in monitor. It records and display many important metrics like calories burned and stroke rate etc. But it can be of many types, some will have low memory while others will have more. Some will be capable of getting connected with other devices from the outside, while others will restrict all the data to themselves. This totally depends on what you want and how you want it. But it directly relates to the price of the rowing machine, if it is an enhanced one, you obviously will have to pay more for it.