The Hydrow takes a silky smooth rowing machine and adds in a killer app to take in-home fitness to the next level

Words Garrick Hatfield
November 05, 2020
The Hydrow takes a silky smooth rowing machine and adds in a killer app to take in-home fitness to the next level
Words Garrick Hatfield November 05, 2020

We live in crazy times – times where what was normal a few weeks ago is forbidden – times where the term social distancing has been drilled into the vocabulary of every red blooded American.  Which means that for nearly everyone, all the facets of daily life that once kept us sane have been slowly ripped away from us.  Dinner out – gone.  Catching a new movie – not happening.  Going to the gym – maybe next year.  So instead, millions of Americans are sitting at home under government mandate, praying for the day when their kids go back to school and some semblance of normalcy can return.

So how do you maintain your sanity while locked indoors trying to survive a pandemic? You find ways to bring as much awesomeness into your home as humanly possible. Enter the Hydrow. It’s an in-home rowing machine that brings a killer app and online connectivity to wherever you’re hunkered down, not only letting you simulate real on-the-water rowing sessions from the comfort of your own shelter, but also pitting you against you against thousands of other Hydrowers in an in-home rowing battle royale. And let’s face it, we can all use some healthy competition right now.

The concept of mixing in-home exercise machines and online connectivity isn’t new, with companies like Peloton trying to replace conventional spinning classes with online ones. But here’s the thing – as much as I love biking, I already own some incredible bikes, so something like the Peloton doesn’t appeal to me because I’d rather hop outdoors and ride or use a trainer if I’m stuck inside (as is the case now). The Hydrow, on the other hand, brings a completely different perspective to my fitness routine that I can’t get anywhere else, mainly due to the fact I’m not going to be taking up actual rowing anytime soon. And here’s the thing: compared to an exercise bike, the Hydrow uses drastically more muscles throughout your session – 86% to be precise – which is a huge leap when compared to a basic spinning class.

So here’s a rundown of the Hydrow, and why now, more than ever, you seriously need to consider adding it to your daily routine.

Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Hydrow Machine

If you’ve been to a gym, you probably have a preconceived notion of what a rowing machine looks like, and it isn’t good. The Hydrow doesn’t look like that. It’s design is much more reminiscent of an actual boat (known as a shell in the rowing world), with a sleek and modern form that’s straight out of the future. Up front, a 22″ HD dust and fingerprint resistant touchscreen connects you directly to the workout of your choosing, and front facing speakers let you clearly hear the instructors and music, which we’ll talk about more in a second.

The build quality of the Hydrow is phenomenal, and despite its good looks, it still feels drastically better than any gym rowing machine I’ve used. It’s more solidly built than the gym rowers I’ve used, but because it uses a strap instead of a chain, the rowing motion is incredibly smooth and nearly silent. Adding to the silky rowing motion is a computer controlled electromagnetic drag mechanism that’s adjustable via the touchscreen, easily allowing you to change resistance on the fly. Add in a comfortable seat with ten rollers, and the Hydrow is easily the smoothest, quietest rowing machine I’ve ever used.

Hydrow Rowing Machine Screen

The Hydrow App

Despite the Hydrow’s greatness, what truly sets it apart is the Hydrow’s connectivity through the 22″ touchscreen. The screen is big, bright and immersive, and once connected to the app, it gives you access to a wealth of content that both motivates you and takes your workouts to an entirely new level of enjoyment.

If you’re new to rowing, the best way to get started is through one of Hydrow’s introductory videos, which details proper rowing technique, pace, breathing, etc. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can dive in to a massive amount of on-demand workouts, letting you choose from thousands of different workouts that vary based on duration, type, location and the instructor. There’s also the ability to participate in live rowing sessions, which vary by time weekly, and you can also bring out your competitive side through team racing, which lets you create a team and battle other online rowers.

I initially questioned how effective an app would be at pushing me during a workout, but after a few months of use, the Hydrow and accompanying app is a game changer.

I initially questioned how effective an app would be at pushing me during a workout, but after a few months of use, the Hydrow and accompanying app is a game changer. The workouts themselves are fantastic – it’s like having an instructor there with you – each bringing their own unique training style to the session.  Each of the workouts also includes a music playlist curated by the instructor that adds another dimension to your training, with the added ability of customizing the mix of vocal instruction and music. During your rowing sessions the screen is the perfect size, drawing you into the training program and corresponding on-the-water scenery, and also keeping your real time stats clearly visible.  Most importantly, the workouts all have a position ranking, meaning you’re constantly battling throughout the workout to get further up the leaderboard. I’m hugely competitive, and it’s such a great motivation to push harder when you want to move up the list, or alternatively to stay strong when you feel like slowing down.

In addition to standard rowing workouts, there’s a couple other benefits of the Hydrow app that I’ve grown to love. Firstly is the addition of on-the-mat workout options, which is a collection of training videos that use only the Hydrow mat. There’s pilate workouts, pre-row and post-row stretching, and a variety of other workouts as well, which is a really nice addition to get you loosened up or target different muscle groups. The second feature I love is the progress report, which provides a full history of every rowing session along with your details (meters rowed, calories burned, etc.). It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to look back and see the hard work you’ve been putting in on the Hydrow, and it makes it easy to look back and find certain workouts you liked, workouts that gave you certain results, and so on. It basically keeps track of everything you’ve done right in the app, which is super convenient.

Ultimately, the Hydrow app is brilliant at its intended purpose – it’s incredibly motivating; it brings you one huge step closer to the feeling of being on the water; and it brings fitness instruction to the comfort of your own home, on demand.

Hydrow Rowing Machine

Hydrow Conclusion

At $2,199 for the Hydrow machine and $38/month for the Hydrow app subscription, the Hydrow is an investment in yourself. But in weighing the Hydrow verses other connected in-home fitness machines like the Peloton, I can’t recommend the Hydrow enough, due to the fact you’re getting such a complete workout.  You’re working nearly your entire body every session from your legs to your back to your core to your arms, and you can vary the intensity from lighter resistance cardio workouts to high resistance strength workouts.  And it’s zero impact, which means your joints aren’t taking a beating like so many other exercises.  I genuinely don’t know if you can find a more thorough, efficient way to exercise than you can with the Hydrow – it’s that good.

So if you’re looking for the best way to stay in shape both during your self isolation and after, look no further than the Hydrow.  They’re offering a special right now that includes a free Hypervolt massager valued at a cool $349, they offer no money down 0% APR financing starting at $62 a month, and you can try it risk free for 30 days.

You can learn more about the Hydrow and pick one up for yourself at the official Hydrow website.