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Compact Rowing Machine

Last Updated on November 5, 2021 by JP

A compact rowing machine is popular for being low-impact while still providing a highly effective full-body workout that leads to weight loss and increased muscle mass. 

The low impact makes a rowing machine for seniors, beginners, and those in recovery ideal. But with so many brand and model options out there, figuring out which best suits your needs, space and budget can be incredibly difficult. 

We review some of the best compact home rowing machines available to purchase, looking at each rower’s best and worst qualities. 

Compact Rowing Machines (Our Review)

Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine (Best Budget)

compact rowing machineThe Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine is compact, and easy to fit into whatever space you might have available. 

Its features include an adjustable hydraulic resistance control knob, alloy steel frame construction, and an LCD monitor that tracks your activity with time, calories, and row count. 

The seat is molded, which allows for comfortable positioning, and the foot pedals are well strapped and flexible, which keeps your feet in place while allowing comfortable movement. This is important to maintain good form when rowing, to prevent back or feet issues. 

It is easy to assemble at home, but you can also hire someone to do it for you if you are unable.  

Retailing for around $150, this machine is decent quality at a steal. 

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Compact
  • Comfortable 
  • Feet in place 
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not as durable as other options 

Stamina 1130 Magnetic Rower (Easiest to Assemble) 

foldable rowing machine

The Stamina 1130 magnetic rower is another great, budget-friendly option from a reputable exercise brand. 

It is easy to assemble, with many citing between 30-40 minutes, and is compact to keep in limited storage space.

The pedals are large and fully support the feet, and the seat is comfortable, albeit on the smaller side. The handles have foam padding, which reverts slipping and sore hands. 

But, it is important to note that this is a rowing machine for short people. If you are over 5’10, you should probably avoid it. If below that height, this is adequate. It’s probably actually a better option for you than rowers that specifically cater to taller people.

The machine is fitted with 16 resistance levels, which is a relatively wide range that allows a broad spectrum of variety in your workout. It also has a quiet and smooth motion, making rowing an enjoyable experience for the user. 

It is priced around $299, which places it on the lower end of the price scale, making it a good choice for those on a budget. 

Pros

  • Easy to assemble 
  • Compact
  • 16 resistance levels 
  • Quiet and smooth 
  • Reasonably priced 

Cons

  • Not for taller people

Concept2 Model D (Best Smooth Row)

portable rowing machineThe Concept2 Model D is one of the most popular rowing machines amongst those looking for home exercise equipment. 

A major upside is its level of compactness. It can be easily stored upright, or simply taken apart (without tools) to make two smaller parts, which is easy to store away. To put it back together takes minimal effort and again, no tools. 

It is on the pricier side. But, for that price, you get high quality and durability in a machine that may last you forever. It is made of aluminum. The rowing machine has a weight limit of 500lb, making it accommodating for all.

The monitor tracks your vitals and workout effectively, and it has Bluetooth compatibility. 

Reviewers rave about the smooth rowing motion, resulting in an enjoyable workout with no bumps or grates. This also makes it a quieter option. It is industry-standard, so it is often used in gyms too.

It takes two D cell batteries, but the flywheel provides power to the machine during your workout which extends battery life.

It retails at a fairly high price of around $950, but the quality of it is arguably worth the steeper cost. 

Pros

  • Durable 
  • Easy to assemble 
  • Industry-standard
  • Smooth rowing motion
  • Bluetooth compatible 
  • Easy to store 

Cons

  • Pricier 
  • The seat can be hard 

NordicTrack RW900 Rower (Best High-End)

collapsible rowing machineThe Nordictrack RW900 Rower is another high-quality rowing machine that provides a good workout and is easy to store. 

It is very easy to fold the machine and store it in a limited space. It is fitted with specific SpaceSaver technology, with a folding design and transport wheels. 

It features a 22-inch rotating HD monitor, which doesn’t just monitor your vitals and activity, but also allows you to stream a range of built-in workouts to follow. Plus, it comes with a 30-day iFit family membership included that is worth about $40. 

It has Bluetooth compatibility, which allows you to connect your earphones to the machine. It features adjustable air resistance and quick-adjust pedals that make it easy for you to adjust your foot positioning during the workout. The pedals are large, which provides good support to the feet. 

It retails at around $2000, making it incredibly pricey. But, the quality paired with the high-tech monitor and loaded workout programs justifies the higher cost. 

Pros

  • Easily foldable and compact
  • Good quality 
  • Big display monitor 
  • Large range of workout programs 
  • Comes with an iFit membership trial

Cons

  • Pricey

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower (Best Value for Money)

fold up rowing machineThe Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is a well-rated machine that is not too pricey. 

It is easily foldable with transport wheels, making it compact and easy to move if necessary. It features a Drum Magnetic Control System which provides ‘optimum friction’ that aids with an effective workout. 

It is a sturdy machine, with an aluminum frame that makes it incredibly durable. The seat is well padded, which provides comfortable support for your back during exercise. The pedals are large and have non-slip material, keeping your feet in place and fully supported. 

The LCD monitor tracks your time, row count, heart rate, calories, etc. You can adjust the resistance levels using buttons, which makes it easier to track. 

The motion of this rowing machine is notably smooth, which in turn makes it a quiet option. 

It is priced around $640, making it a good in-between amongst the options available. 

Pros

  • Durable 
  • Comfortable seat
  • Large and non-slip pedals 
  • Smooth motion
  • Easily foldable 

Cons

  • Rower stability can be poor 

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine (Best Reputation) 

fold away rowing machinesThe Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine is a good quality rower from a reputable brand. It is easily folded, meaning it gets flat enough to fit into a smaller storage space. 

It is a dual hydraulic-piston rower, which means that each arm has its own handle. This functionality means that it is a better resistance and a more comfortable rowing experience. It also results in a more realistic motion, making you feel like you’re rowing down a river rather than exercising in your living room. 

Another benefit of this dual feature is that if you have an uneven upper body strength, or recovering from an arm injury, you don’t have to have a set resistance and motion for both arms together – you can custom this to each arm. 

The rowing machine has a simple monitor that is used with a single button, and it tracks your speed, calories, time, row count, and distance. It is a sturdy and durable machine, made of aluminum, so it will last you ages. 

In terms of comfort levels, the seat is heavily padded, providing optimal support for your back. The pedals are flexible, allowing you to move your feet according to comfort during your exercise. 

Despite not having wheels, the machine is fairly light, making it easier to move around anyway.

It costs around $380, making it a bargain.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Dual pistons
  • Durable
  • Comfortable seating
  • Easy to fold

Cons

  • No transport wheels
  • Simplistic monitor 

Ativa Fit Magnetic Compact Rowing Machine (Best Mid-Level)

fold away rowing machineThe Ativa Magnetic Compact rowing machine is the perfect option if you are looking for something reasonably priced, quiet, and compact. 

Its features include 8 resistance levels to meet your workout requirements, regardless of your fitness level. It has a sturdy steel frame, making it a durable and long-lasting option. 

It also has an LCD monitor that tracks your distance, calories, time, and speed. The handles are padded with foam, which prevents red, sore hands after an intense workout. Adding to the comfort factor, the pedals are large and non-slip, fully supporting the feet. 

The seat is large, making it comfortable for all sizes, and supportive of the back. A 45-inch slide rail ensures long and swift motion, with little to no sound. 

It ranges between $350 to $500, depending on where you purchase it, making it a good mid-level option. 

Pros

  • Quiet 
  • Durable
  • Reasonably priced 
  • Comfortable 

Cons

  • LCD can be unstable 

Fitness Reality 1000 Rower (Best Quiet Option)

rowing machine foldingThe Fitness Reality 1000 Rower is the quietest on our list, making it the best rowing machine for an apartment

With a smooth and seamless motion, you can row in the middle of the night without a stir. This is the result of a noiseless nylon rowing belt, one of the many features of this rowing machine. 

Its features include Dual Magnetic Tension Resistance (14 levels) which allows you to continuously challenge yourself in your workouts. It has a 3.5-inch LCD monitor that tracks your stats, and it is compatible with Bluetooth connectivity. It also links to a MyCloud fitness app, which you can use on your device to track your workouts. 

It is extremely compact, with the ability to fold easily and slot into almost any storage space you have available. The comfort levels are high, with a big padded seat for back support, and stabilizer foot pads to keep you sturdy. 

The going price is around $325, which is on the lower end for a good quality machine.

Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Smooth motion
  • Wide range of resistance levels
  • MyCloud app
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • Reasonably priced 

Cons

  • The app can be difficult to use
  • Requires more effort to store 

First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rowing Machines (Best for Realism)

compact rowing machinesThe First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rowing machine brings the river to your living room, with a unique design and excellent features. 

It can be folded flat to be stored vertically, making it a compact option. But, it is quite long. This makes it an ideal rowing machine for tall people.  

It works similarly to an air rowing machine. The resistance is variable and gets stronger according to the power of your row. You can also use the resistance adjustment knob to adjust the level of the water, which in turn changes the actual resistance levels. 

While the actual motion is smooth and quiet, you do have the slight sound of water moving, which only makes the experience feel more authentic. It has a strong and durable steel frame to last you a long time. 

It ranges between $900 and $1,100, placing it on the higher end of the scale. But, it is well-rated and worth it if you are looking for a long-term investment.

Pros

  • Variable resistance
  • Quiet and smooth
  • Reasonably priced 
  • Water tank

Cons

  • Foot pedals can be difficult to adjust

Fitbill (Best Design)

portable rower rowing machineThe Fitbill rowing machine is ultra-modern with technology that makes it ahead of its time. It is compact, and easy to transport or lift with its feather light weight of 32lb. 

It links to a Fitbit app, allowing you to track your workout on your phone, tablet, or any other compatible device you might have. This allows you to monitor your distance, time, calories, and row count. It also offers a ‘virtual trainer’, which guides you through various workouts to suit your needs and goals, and keeps you eager and fit. 

It has dial cylinders with eight-level of resistance, which allows each arm to have its own pace and level, and gives you a wide range of intensity. A standout feature is a 10% incline option, which adds another level of resistance and burn. 

The motion is smooth and quiet, and the machine itself is quite attractive with trendy hints of silver and rose gold. 

It is priced around $170, making it incredibly cheap for a fairly high-tech piece of equipment.

Pros

  • Light
  • Comes with the Fitbill app
  • 10% incline 
  • Range of resistance levels 
  • Nice design

Cons

  • Not as durable as others 

Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower (Best for Beginners) 

space saving rowing machineThe Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower is a great entry-level, budget option for those wanting to start rowing without breaking the bank. 

This is a magnetic resistance rower and has 8 levels of adjustable resistance that allows you to smoothly transition between a moderate workout and higher intensities. 

The seat is comfortable and sits at a 15-degree angle that creates a larger resistance, and also a smoother motion. This also results in a quieter workout. 

The large LCD monitor shows you the distance, time, and calories of your workout. It might be more on the basic side, but it tells you all the vital information needed to track your workouts. 

It is highly compact, and it will take you no longer than 30 seconds to fold up. It is also easy to assemble at home and comes with all the tools that you would need. 

It does not match up to its competitors in terms of durability and quality of material, but it will serve you well for a good few years, making it a good option for those wanting to spend minimal money and give rowing a shot. You can always look to upgrade down the line if you enjoy it. 

The price point is around $300. This makes it budget-friendly, but not the cheapest on our list. 

Pros

  • Easy to assemble 
  • Compact 
  • Comfortable
  • Smooth and quiet motion
  • Budget-friendly 

Cons

  • Not very durable 

ProForm 750R Rower (Most Compact) 

compact home rowing machineThe ProForm 750R Rower is the most easily foldable rowing machine on our list, making it the most compact. 

It has a special SpaceSaver design that basically halves it in size in just a simple tug of a handle, so you can pack it away in seconds once you are done with your daily exercise. This makes it incredibly convenient for a home, especially when you do not have the space to keep it permanently open and will need to store it after use. 

The monitor displays the basic stats, such as your calories, time, and distance, but it does have a tablet holder for you to slot in your own device. You also receive three years of free iFit classes, which is a good way to keep yourself on track with rowing, especially if you are a beginner. 

It has 24 resistance levels, which is an extremely wide range that allows you to push your limits. The structure is sturdy, and the seat and handles are padded and soft to keep you comfortable and supported when exercising. 

It is priced around $999, making it a mid-level range option. 

Pros 

  • Folds easily
  • Wide range of resistance levels 
  • Quiet and smooth

Cons

  • Low weight capacity 
  • Basic LCD
  • No heart rate monitor

Compact Rowing Machine (FAQ) 

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine? 

Yes. A rowing machine burns calories which lead to weight loss throughout the body, including the belly. It also tones and strengthens muscles, including the abdominal muscles. 

Are 20 minutes of rowing enough?

Yes, depending on what your fitness goals are, and the intensity of your workout. If you are looking to lose weight or tone muscles, you should try to incorporate a HIIT workout in those 20 minutes. 

Are rowing machines easy to store?

Yes, compared to other exercise equipment a rowing machine is relatively smaller and will not take up too much space. 

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