My Hydrow Rower Review

Maybe you ended up on this Hydrow Rower review because you’re in the market for a home rowing machine. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide between rower brands. I know that I fit both criteria.

My daughters already have the Concept 2 rowers. They give it rave reviews. 

It’s definitely one of the cheapest rowing machines out there that’s also high quality. However, there is no interactivity to it, which I love about my Peloton.

Since I crave that interactive experience and I want a rower, I knew that I needed to try out the Hydrow Rower. Thus, this review.

Review of the Hydrow Rower experience

Unlike Peloton, which has stores in most major cities across the country, Hydrow has partnered with Best Buy locations for an in-store trial. Unfortunately, it’s not at every Best Buy.

At the time I wrote this article, I lived just outside Pittsburgh. The store finder told me that my nearest option for a Hydrow Rower to try out at Best Buy was in Buffalo, New York. That’s two and half hours away.

However, when I reached out to Hydrow, they found a Best Buy location somewhat closer. That was in Canton, Ohio, about 90 minutes away.

Going to Best Buy to try the Hydrow

On a recent sunny Sunday, with beautiful fall foliage all around, my husband and I drove to the Best Buy in Canton. It took about an hour and a half to get there.

If you’ve been to Best Buy lately, then you know that you can buy lots of big brands there. Usually, there is signage that clearly marks the “pods” where brands are situated. 

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t any signage for the Hydrow or the NordicTrack bikes and treadmills in the “pod” where I eventually found it. I had to do a lap around the store to find it.

hydrow rower at best buy vertical

Hydrow rowing machine dimensions

I’ll be honest: I was surprised at just how big the Hydrow is. I mean, it’s very long.

According to the Hydrow website, the machine spans nearly eight feet. A single person scull (that’s a boat) on the water is 27 feet long. So obviously, it’s much smaller than a real rower that goes in the water.

However, my home gym has a NordicTrack treadmill, which I always thought was pretty big. But that treadmill is almost a foot shorter than the rower. My Peloton bike is only about five feet long.

treadmill with mat weights vertical

Anyway, this “surprise” about the dimensions is totally on me–turns out all rowers are this long. My daughters’ Concept 2 rowers are about 8 feet long, too. And the Peloton Row is about 8 feet long, too. OK, so we may need to do some rejiggering in the home gym to fit the new equipment.

Taking a test rowing class on the Hydrow

Now it was time to take a test rowing class on the Hydrow. Getting set up on the equipment was super simple.

One, you don’t need any special shoes to use the Hydrow. I was wearing my Hoka running shoes and they slipped right into the foot straps.

Two, then, you just sit down, grab the rowing handle and you’re ready to go.

I’d previously used a rower at the gym. But the Hydrow was nothing like that gym rower (I can’t recall which brand it was). Here’s what I know: when I would row on the gym rowing machine, there was always a somewhat jerking feeling when pulling the handle as you row.

Smooth feeling of Hydrow rowing

Not with the Hydrow Rower. It was so smooth. I was shocked. There was no jerking at all.

Also, Hydrow says its rower handle is ergonomically designed. I believe it. 

With the rower at the gym, my hands always hurt after just a five minute warm up. Not with the Hydrow Rower. It was so comfortable to hold. And I have arthritis in my hands. So I’m a critical user of any equipment that leaves my hands aching. I was really impressed with how comfortable it was.

Here I am trying out the Hydrow rower at Best Buy.

Same with the seat. It’s got a butt print in it (if you will), like when you sit in the sand at the beach. No padded shorts needed.

Review of Hydrow Rower screen

The screen on the Hydrow Rower is similar to Peloton’s in that it is a touchscreen tablet. It really is the heart of the machine. It’s also about the same size–22 inches.

I found it easy to navigate the Hydrow Rower screen. Maybe because I’ve had so many years of experience navigating the Peloton screen. Or maybe because it’s an intuitive design. Anyway, it was easy to see all the class options. 

Like Peloton, Hydrow classes have music themes. I wish I’d had more time to take the Counting Crows class that popped up on the screen.

Also, you can filter classes based on different criteria. These include:

  • Athlete
  • Duration
  • Workout Type
  • Workout Style
  • Location

Hydrow rowing class locations

Speaking of class location, most of the Hydrow classes are filmed on two bodies of water. One, summer classes are filmed on the Charles River in Massachusetts. And two, winter classes are filmed on Indian Creek in Miami Beach, Florida.

FYI, the Hydrow company is headquartered in Boston. So it’s no surprise they chose the Charles River for filming. Also, if you know anything about rowing, then you know that the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston each year is a big deal.

In addition, there are on-location rowing classes available on demand. For example, one class in Alaska included the instructors gliding by an ice floe with seals on them. They even slowed down to say, “Hi.”

Finally, like Peloton, Hydrow offers scenic rides or row. Their instructors have filmed on Thames River in London and other international destinations, like Spain, Italy and Norway.

Why adding a rower makes sense

It was this line on the Hydrow website that really sold me on getting a rower:

“[Y]ou engage 86% of your major muscle groups through HIIT, cardio, resistance, and strength training all-in-one.”

In addition to getting the full-body workout on the hardware, Hydrow offers a full complement of strength, yoga, stretching and other classes on the mat. Like the Peloton Bike Plus, the Hydrow screen swivels to the side. Then, you can take the additional classes from the rower screen but while you’re on the floor.

One on One Hydrow coaching

If you’re new to rowing like I am, you can sign up for one-on-one Hydrow coaching. This is akin to the bike fit I did with my Peloton.

These are 30-minute sessions with a Hydrow instructor that are customized to your needs and goals. And they’re done right through the Hydrow tablet. At the end, you get a customized workout plan

Of course, you’ll pay for this extra service. A single session is $79. A three pack is $199.

Cons of the Hydrow Rower

There was only one major con that I could come up with to include in this Hydrow Rower review. And it was this: how the instructors row vs how you row in class.

That is, I don’t have experience being on a crew team. I know that in some crew boats, you’re working on a single oar that somewhat mimics the experience of rowing with the Hydrow handle. However, the instructors are rowing using two oars. I found this disconcerting. 

Because what I was doing with my arms did not match what I saw on the screen. So I could not 100% match their movements.

I mean it’s super cool that the instructors are rowing live on the water while filming classes–that was exciting to be a part of. I just wish their oars matched my “oar” aka the Hydrow handle. Does that make sense?

Another con for you might be the price or the size. Well, Hydrow now offers the Hydrow Wave. It’s a smaller and less expensive version of the Hydrow Rower. The Best Buy I visited didn’t have the Wave, so I couldn’t try it out for this review.

Hydrow rower vs Peloton Row vs Concept 2 rower

If you’re trying to decide between this rower or those made by other companies, here are some side by side comparisons to consider.

Price of Hydrow rower vs Peloton Row vs Concept 2 rower

Hydrow: Hydrow Wave is $1,695 plus $38/month membership; The Hydrow original Rower is $2,495 plus $38/month membership 

Peloton Row: $3,195 plus $44/month all-access membership

Concept 2: About $1,200 on Amazon

Size of Hydrow rower vs Peloton Row vs Concept 2 rower

Hydrow Rower: 86″L x 25″W x 47″H, 145 pounds; Hydrow Wave Rower: 80 inches long X 19 inches wide, 102 pounds

Peloton Row: Eight feet by two feet, 156 pounds

Concept 2: 96 x 24 x 14 inches, 57 pounds

Classes on Hydrow rower vs Peloton Row vs Concept 2 rower

Hydrow Rowers: 3,000-plus classes of rowing, strength, yoga and more

Peloton Row: Guided rowing, bootcamps, scenic rowing

Concept 2: No classes available as it has no screen.

Other important points about Hydrow

To round out this review, I wanted to answer common questions about the Hydrow Rower. So, here goes.

Hydrow Rower storage

I know one thing people are curious about is if you can store the Hydrow upright.

And the answer is, yes, you can purchase the upright storage kit on Amazon.

FYI this upright storage kit is for use with the original Hydrow machine, not the Wave.

What are the best shoes to wear with a rower

Well, I mentioned that I tried out the Hydrow at Best Buy while wearing running shoes. As you know, running shoes tend to have a thicker heel, and I noticed that my shoe kept slipping out the back of the footbed.

So the next time I take a rowing class, I’m going to try the shoes I wear for weight lifting. They’re flatter and have a smaller heel.

Here is my article on the best shoes to wear for weightlifting.

Do you need a Hydrow rowing subscription

Like Peloton, you do need to pay for a Hydrow subscription in order to use the equipment.