Best Rowing Machine For Apartments – Affordable & Practical

In this post, we’ll be answering the question: what are the best rowing machines for your apartment?

If you’re living in an apartment or a smaller house where space is limited the footprint is going to be a big concern. Usually, the height isn’t a big deal but the width and length can be a factor. Additionally, if you have roommates you don’t want something that is loud or distracting. Below is a list of rowing machines that focus on having a smaller footprint and hopefully will provide the least amount of intrusion for others.

Fitness has been non-negotiable since the beginning of mankind.

In earlier times, outdoor tasks use to be enough to workout the entire body. One such activity was rowing a boat. Not the electric-pedal boats that are popular these days, but an actual boat that requires manual work.

However, in modern times, going out on a boat and rowing every day is a nearly impossible task, even if you have a rowing boat. But that does not mean you cannot get the benefits of rowing in another way.

Bring home an indoor rowing machine that mimics the actual rowing experience and provides a complete workout regime, including cardio and strength-training.

However, with so many indoor rowing machines out there it could be confusing to find the best rowing machine for your apartment.

The best rowing machine for apartments or limited spaces is the Joroto magnetic rower. The noise-free mechanism combined with a smaller footprint, at an affordable cost makes this one of the best rowers available for home use.

For those that want a quick answer, here is what I would recommend:

Quick Answer: Best Rowing Machines Available

  • Best rowing machine for apartments: Joroto.
  • Best water rowing machine: MaxKare Water Rower
  • Best rowing machine on a budget: Sunny Health & Fitness Rower
  • Best air rower: MaxKare
BrandJorotoMaxKareSunny HealthFitness RealityMaxKare
Resistance TypeMagneticMagnetic/AirMagneticMagneticWater
Max User Weight300 lbs.264 lbs.250 lbs.250 lbs.264 lbs.
Dimensions 71 L x 21 W x 36 H inches71.3” (L) x 20.1” (W) x 14.2” (H)82L x 19W x 23H in88.5 x 21.5 x 21.5 inches78 x 17.3 x 35.4 inches
Foldable DesignNoYesYesYesNo

Rowing machines can vary widely in cost with the top end of rowing machines exceeding over $1,500 to lower-end machines barely breaking $100. Obviously, you’re going to get what you pay for, but I want to share with you a spectrum of machines that could fit your needs. After the options, I’ll share what to look for when making a choice.

Here is a review of the top 5 products that may guide you in finding the best rowing machine for the price.

Best Rowing Machines Review

Joroto (Editor’s Choice)

1) Joroto Magnetic Rower – Used by elite athletes for competitive training, the versatile Joroto rower fits in fitness facilities and home gyms as it does in boathouses around the world. This magnetic rower fits your goals and your budget, offering a low-impact exercise accessible to anyone of any age. The Joroto is widely used by all levels, making it one of the best rowing machines for a beginner.

• The model sports a digital monitor that tracks time, distance, speed, and calories so you can see yourself achieving your goals.
• The magnetic tension has resistance from 1-10, letting you set the difficulty level specific to your needs.
• Storage is never an issue with this rowing machine as it is lightweight and has floor protection. Also, its caster wheels make it easy to roll to any side of your room.
• This ultra-modern workout program helps you stay motivated by connecting with leading fitness apps.

• The all-in-one machine helps with cardio, bicep curls, and tricep curls without putting too much stress on the hips or the knees.
• Assembling the machine is simple and takes less than 10 minutes.
• Its large seat ensures most people can row comfortably without needing additional attachments.
• Its small footprint, portability (via caster wheels), and noise-free mechanism during a workout, all make it a great fit for apartments.

MaxKare (Runner up)

2) MaxKare Rowing Machine Air Rower with progressive air resistance and two-belt drive design, the faster you pull, the more resistance you will get from the air rower. After each stroke, you will feel a gentle breeze and hear the air pressure caused by the fans. Designed for your comfort and a better user experience, MaxKare air rower is a great choice for a low-impact, full-body workout. It can help you exercise your lower back, shoulders, arms, hip, and legs.

• A twin belt drive provides super-strong resistance making this the right rowing machine for you if you’re looking to jump right into it
• During your workout, you could easily glance at the display panel that shows elaborate workout data, including reps/minutes, count, and calories.
• With a steel frame, it’s sturdy and durable. The load capacity is 264 lbs.
• Non-slip handlebar and foot pedals provide the maximum grip during a rowing session.

• Regularly working out on this rowing machine could help in weight loss, relieve spinal pressure, strengthen your knees and lumbar muscles, and reduce back and shoulder pain.
• It comes with a pulley and has a foldable design, which makes it easy to store. It is also quiet enough so that you can work out without disturbing others.
• It comes in a semi pre-assembled form, which means the bulkier parts are already attached, making the remainder of the installation easy.

Sunny Health & Fitness (Budget-Friendly)

3) Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Row into shape with the top of the line Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine! With a newly improved smoother and quieter magnetic tension system with 8 levels of adjustable tension, convenient large LCD console, fully padded seat, larger anti-slip foot pedals, and built-on transportation wheels, this rower is designed for convenience while also providing the challenging feel of outdoor rowing.

• This product is built with 8 levels of adjustable resistance along with a magnetic tension system, which lets you choose the right intensity for your workout.
• A large LCD console helps you view all your exercise data with ease while you are on the machine. The data includes calories, count, total count, time, scan, and so on.
• Its fully padded seat, non-slip handlebars, and large anti-slip foot pedals ensure you always have comfortable rowing experiences.

• With minimal effort, this rowing machine could magnificently help you with your low-impact cardio as well as aerobic exercises. Also, its full-body exercise regime targets all the major muscles of the body to help them gain strength.
• Its foldable feature makes it easy to store in any corner of the room. Further, its low-noise mechanism ensures you are not branded as a ‘noisy neighbor’ when you work out.
• Assembly is fairly straight-forward and takes less than half an hour.

Fitness Reality

4) Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine – The Fitness Reality 1000 plus has a large 3. 5” LCD, 14 levels of magnetic resistance, and a large cushioned seat that will keep you comfortable throughout your workout sessions. Also, front stabilizer foot pads allow for additional exercises such as curls, bent over rows, front raises, and more. With the free My Cloud Fitness app, you can set workout goals, track your workouts, and more. So train hard and get the results you want with the Fitness Reality 1000 plus Bluetooth magnetic rower. Current users of this say it’s “dead silent!

• The rowing machine boasts of a 14-level magnetic tension resistance, so you could choose between an easy workout and a high-intensity one.
• Its large LCD panel shows you your workout data, including calories, distance, total count, time, strokes/minute, and scan.
• Additional exercise footpads are provided for you to try other forms of exercise such as curls, upright rows, and many more.
• Its large contoured seat cushion and anti-slip foot pedals make sure you have a smooth and comfortable time on the machine.

• The exercise programs of this rowing machine target the entire body, including all the major muscles. So, if you are looking to build strength on your biceps, triceps, forearms, legs, thighs, shoulders, etc., this machine is for you.
• It connects with the MyCloudFitness app via Bluetooth, so that you can keep track of your workout data anywhere, anytime, and share among peers.
• Assembling the machine is easy and takes less than 40 minutes.
• The machine is foldable and quiet, thus being apt for smaller home gyms.


5) MaxKare Water Rowing Machine – The steel frame on this provides a sturdy feel, even while exerting yourself and applying a lot of tension. The MaxKare is also very quiet with smooth runners under the seat, so you can enjoy the sound of the water spinning around in the tank. Simply fill the water tank to a level appropriate for your needs. The less water provides a minimal amount of resistance for beginners. Half a tank is the moderate level for the intermediate rower, and a full tank creates an intense workout for those looking to really burn some calories. This MaxKare is considered one of the best water rowing machines available on the market!

• This machine comes with an actual water tank. When you fill this tank with water, it provides you with powerful resistance along with the meditative sound of water splashing around.
• Its multi-feature LCD monitor displays all your rowing details such as strokes, duration, calories, distance, heart rate, and so on.
• Its ergonomic handle, contoured seat, and a long footrest with adjustable velcro straps provide you with the maximum comfort and near-natural rowing experiences.

• The resistance provided by the water in the tank is perfect to strengthen your muscles as well as help with weight loss and back pain.
• Effortless to assemble and takes less than 30 minutes. Replacing the water in the tank is fairly simple. Also, it is easy to move and to tow away safely when not in use.
• The sound and the feel of the water wheel helps your mind relax as the rowing settings work on strengthening your body’s core. Water-resistance makes it feel like the real deal.

What To Look For In a Rowing Machine

1) Resistance Types for Rowing

The main resistance sources will come in the form of air, water, and magnetic. This will likely be the biggest characteristic you’ll want to look at before moving forward. Each resistance type has its advantages and disadvantages.

With air resistance, the flywheel acts like a fan and the harder you pull the more wind created by the flywheel. So if you want a hard workout you’ll pull hard and you’ll pull fast. If you want an easier workout, you’ll slow down your tempo and the resistance will decrease.

The resistance is strictly controlled by the user, making it popular for interval training. A disadvantage of these can be the noise level. If you’re really pushing it, the noise of a fast-spinning fan can be high.

With water resistance, the blades will be encapsulated in a bubble filled with water. As you pull, the blades will spin pushing the water, creating resistance. Similar to the air resistance, the harder and faster you pull, the higher the resistance will be. What makes the water-resistance a little more variable, is the amount of water you put into the chamber.

The more water in the chamber, the more water the blades will push. Thus if you want to go hard, you would fill the chamber up. On the other hand, a beginner may want to start with less water until form and strength have adapted.

With magnetic resistance, the flywheel’s resistance is controlled by magnets. The magnets can be pushed really close to create higher resistance or they can be backed off and create less resistance. A big advantage of magnetic resistance is the noise is significantly less than water and air resistance. This can be great for those wanting to listen to music or watch tv while they row.

However, the level of high resistance may not be high enough for those looking to crank out some calories. Since the resistance is via a magnetic field as opposed to actual friction resistance, the level of resistance might be lacking.

There are other resistance types (piston and combo) but for this review, I’m sticking with the main resistance types.

2) Storage Space of Rowing Machine

The footprint is another aspect you’ll want to consider. If you have ample room, then just leaving it on the floor as is won’t be an issue. If you’re looking to minimize the footprint you might want to consider the weight of the rowing machine, along with wheels to make it more maneuverable. Finally, some can be folded down as an added feature.

3) Digital Reader

Most if not all the rowers have a digital screen that can show a wide array of statistics. If the computer is something you value a lot but you don’t have a high budget for a premium machine, consider choosing a machine that is compatible with a top of the range computer. This way as you progress upgrades are possible.

Rowing Machine Weight Loss Results

The best rowing machine for under $500 will have the correct resistance, durability all at an affordable price.

A rowing machine is truly a full-body workout. Both the upper and lower body exerts force creating a total body exercise machine. The impact is very low, so for those with achy or stiff joints, rowing machines can be a great form of exercise.

Rowing machines are easy to use. The resistance can be adapted for beginners all the way to experts, and no exhausting training is necessary. One thing I love about rowing machines is the white noise created by the resistance. For me, the rhythmic, white noise is almost meditative, and it allows my brain to recharge. I feel like I get a mental and physical benefit when rowing.

Using a rowing machine, even at just a moderate pace will burn close to 500 calories per hour. This is an incredible amount of calories in 30 minutes.

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of rowing machines is immediate results. Since you’re burning through so many calories and getting a full-body workout in, the results will be super quick. But keep in mind you earn those results!

How to Properly Use a Rowing Machine

While using a rowing machine can seem pretty straight-forward there’s proper form and technique you should use. Here’s a quick video showing you the simple steps for proper rowing machine form.

Wrapping up Best Rowing Machines Reviews

Rowing machines provide the best full-body workouts and burn more calories than any other piece of exercise equipment. They are also low impact and can be used by virtually anyone!

If complete fitness is on your mind and you do not have the time or the money to go to the gym regularly, a good quality rowing machine is a must on your purchase list. Get all the benefits of rowing within the convenience of your home, without having to worry about whether the weather is fit for taking the boat out, or in which direction the wind is blowing.

While natural boating is great for recreational purposes, going out to row every day just for the sake of working out may not be practical. Instead, set up your home gym with one of the rowing machines reviewed above and watch your body take the perfect shape as you continue to exercise indoors with your customized intensity settings.

Do Rowing Machines Build Muscle?

Rowing machines are considered full-body workouts that trigger the major upper and lower body muscles during each stroke. While the resistance is less than the weights you will find at the gym, the amount of resistance can be increased.

As you increase the speed and the resistance it can be an extremely effective way to gain muscle mass. Also, rowing comes with some pretty exceptional benefits like tying both cardiovascular exercise and strength training into one effective and efficient calorie-burning workout.

Do You Prefer Treadmills or Rowing Machines?

Both are fantastic cardiovascular machines. The one big advantage the rowing machine will have over treadmills, is they’re easier on the joints. Treadmills tend to be a bit harder on the knees and ankles.

Another significant difference is the upper body workout you get from the rowing machine. It could be debated which machine engages more core muscles, but the back and arm workout of the rowing machine is significant. The treadmill just can’t match that level of resistance.

Depending on your current health, both would be adequate for building up your cardio system but if you’re looking for something that has a little bit less impact, the rowing machine is the best.

FAQ on Rowing Machines

What's a rowing machine good for?

Rowing machines are a great full-body workout. They are great for burning calories, toning your body, maintaining and building muscle.

How do rowing machines work?

Rowing machines are meant to mimic rowing a boat on the open water. You use your upper and lower body muscles to perform this. The rowing machines have different types of resistance and the faster you row the more resistance is provided.

How many calories does a rowing machine burn?

According to Harvard Health Publications, using a rowing machine at a moderate pace for an hour will burn about 400-600 calories.

Will a rowing machine help flatten your stomach?

Rowing machines are full-body workouts and are capable of burning a lot of calories. If you burn more calories than you’re consuming, weight loss will be the result.

Are rowing machines bad for your knees?

Rowing machines are low impact and put minimal stress on your joints. Similar to riding a bike, rowing machines are great for rehabilitation, injury prevention, and conditioning.

Will a rowing machine build muscle?

Yes, rowing machines can build muscle. Interval training is a great way to burn calories and build muscle.

What kind of rowing machine do you like? Leave a comment below.

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