Last Updated on February 12, 2021 by JP
Sunny Health and Fitness Water Rowing Machine Overview:
With a combination of three steel “hydro blades,” a flywheel and a water tank, there is hardly a limit to the amount of resistance you can create with the Sunny Health and Fitness Obsidian Rower. Water rowing machines are the closest that you can get to the feel of actual rowing without getting out on a lake, and they and provide a challenging yet smooth workout. With an R2 Fitness Meter and an LCD Monitor, the Obsidian will provide a great workout as well as the motivation to keep pushing harder as you progress.
In addition, the molded, padded seat sits higher off of the ground than most rower seats, which makes it easier to get on and off, even for people who have lower back, hip or knee issues. The rail is 49 inches long making this a good rowing machine for any trainees who have been too tall for others.
- Height: 33.5”
- Width: 22”
- Length: 78.7”
- Rail Length: 49”
- Seat 10” x 12.5”
- Item Weight: 81.6 lbs
- Max user weight: 250 lbs
- With a flywheel and steel blades in a water tank, the Obsidian gives a smooth, gliding workout with resistance based entirely by the speed and strength of your own stroke. The harder and faster you work, the more drag you will feel with each stroke.
- Monitor shows all of the key metrics you need to track your progress and to keep yourself motivated as well. It does have heart rate monitoring capabilities, but the heart rate monitor strap is not included and must be purchased separately.
- The molded and padded seat is designed to be easier to get on and off even for less than flexible trainees.
- Wheels allow for easy transporting from room to room.
- Machine stores upright even with water in the tank. It is recommended that it be stored up against a wall.
- LCD readout tracks total time, 500m time, strokes per minute, total strokes, calories burned, ambient temperature and time.
- Sleep mode shuts the monitor off after 4 minutes without activity,
- Clock has an alarm feature. Alarm will not work during active workout, however.
- Can be used with a heart rate monitor strap which is not included with this model and must be purchased separately.
- Frame: 3 years
- Parts: 90 days
Shipping and Assembly:
Shipping costs will depend on where you purchase your Obsidian rowing machine from. While free shipping is an option this may depend on where you are shipping it to and how quickly you want your machine to arrive.
Assembly is fairly simple with all tools and hardware needed included in the package and clearly labeled. In addition to a full diagram, there is a step-by-step written guide. Sunny Health and Fitness suggests having two people to put this machine together, but the average person should be able to handle this assembly in one hour or less, even without help.
What We Love About the Sunny Health and Fitness Water Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor (Obsidian SF-RW5713 model):
Ever Changing Levels of Resistance Without Dials or Knobs
For most rowing machines, the resistance is set by turning a knob or dial, and it is limited. For a water rower, there is no limit because resistance is caused by the movement of the three blades through the water. The harder or faster that you row, the more resistance that you create.
Higher Seat Means Less Strain
The average rowing machine sits pretty close to the ground. In some designs, the seat and rail are just inches above the floor which means that anyone with a bad back, hips or knees is going to struggle just to get on and off the seat. The Obsidian’s seat is positioned higher off the ground at about knee height or slightly higher. The seat itself is fairly large and padded for comfort.
It may not be the top of the line monitor, but it is pretty good for the price. It is one of the few monitors that count distance as well as strokes per minute. It also tracks the ambient temperature, which can be an interesting metric to watch while you are working out.
What Isn’t so Great:
The Weight Limit
It is interesting that a machine that could accommodate someone above the average height would stick to the industry standard maximum weight of 250 lbs instead of making this machine capable of handling someone heavier.
Transport Wheels Are Limited
At nearly 100 pounds, this machine is not something you want to be moving all of the time without help. The transport wheels work fairly well on some surfaces, but they are basically useless on carpets of any depth.
How the Sunny Health and Fitness Obsidian Compares to the SF-RW5624 Model
First, the Obsidian is the only water rower in this series, which gives it the huge advantage off the bat. The SF-RW5624 has magnetic resistance which only gives eight levels of resistance. This model does give you the ability to row with one side at a time which is good for trainees that are trying to challenge individual muscle groups. This model also does have a higher maximum weight rating at 300 pounds, but the rail is nearly ten inches shorter. This model also folds for storage; the Obsidian does not.
Both machines are nearly the same size despite the much shorter rail length with the SF-RW5624. If you need the higher weight capability, that would be about the only reason to choose this model over the Obsidian, which will give you more resistance even as you progress. They are both similar in price as well.
Final Word on the Sunny Health and Fitness Water Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor (Obsidian SF-RW5713 model):
One of the best things about a water rowing machine is the sound of the water as the blades move through it. That sound, plus the feel of the resistance it creates, makes a trainee feel like they are out on the lake and rowing a small boat through real water. Water rower machines have constantly adjusting resistance, so you will never feel like you can “master” it. The higher seat profile is a huge advantage here especially for trainees that are less flexible or for those who are just coming back from injury or surgery.