Want to get fit, healthy and/or lose weight from home? A rowing machine is an excellent way to do this. There are literally hundreds to choose from though, so where do you start? In this article, we’re going to take a look at the more affordable end of the rower market – the best rowing machine under 500 dollars! We have 7 awesome products for you that won’t break the bank, but are still top quality rowers. Don’t let the budget price make you think you’re getting an inferior product though. Sure you can pay up to $1000 or more for a rowing machine, but it’s not necessary. There are plenty that should help you achieve your fitness goals just fine even if your budget is $500 or less.
If you’re in a hurry just click on any of the following links to check out our top picks:
Now let’s take a closer look:
Best Rowing Machines Under $500
Best Magnetic Rower: Sunny Health And Fitness SF-RW5515
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515, is one of the best rowing machines under $500 on the market in 2019. In fact it costs less than half that price (check it out here) and it has some great user reviews. If you’re looking for a quiet, easy to use exercise machine for your home, at an unbeatable price, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. Here are some of the features:
Resistance Adjustment Dial – The resistance levels are 1-8 (1 being the easiest and 8 the hardest). If you want to ramp up the calorie burn rate then go for high resistance if you want to take things easier then medium to low. The 8th level is more than enough for a serious workout.
LCD – Digital Monitor – You can see your calorie burn rate, view your heart rate or calculate your split times.
Fully Padded Seat – Ensures you don’t get too uncomfortable when you’re sliding up and down the metal rail.
Sweat Resistant Hand Bar – The hand bar is comfortable so when your grip intensifies (depending on your speed and pulling motion) it does not dig into your hands and hurt. If you have sweaty palms the foam around the hand bars will stop your hands from slipping.
Large Anti Slip Foot Pedals With Adjustable Strong Nylon Straps – This ensures safe footing even during a tough workout.
Easy Storage – The machine has a removable main bolt beside the foot pedals, you just unscrew it, pull the back of the rail up, replace the bolt when the rail is folded upright (securing machine in an upright position). The built on castor wheels allow you to easily wheel the machine to your desired storage space.
- Almost silent when rowing
- Doesn’t take up much floor space
- Fast assembly with easy to understand instructions
- Price is very affordable
- The digital monitor only tracks the calories burned, strokes and time lapsed – doesn’t track meters rowed
- The monitor is small so it can be hard to see the numbers
- Doesn’t have a virtual 3D glasses option
Read Full review: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Review
Best Overall: Stamina ATS Air Rower/ Rowing Machine
The Stamina ATS Air is our top pick for rowers under $500. Air rowers are a favorite with many home users and Stamina is one of the top brands in this price range. Let’s take a look at some of the features:
Efficient Rowing With Air Resistance – The rower works on a flywheel air resistance system. When you set your rowing in motion your resistance levels are determined by the force applied against the wind being generated. So the faster you row, the harder the resistance.
Strong Metal Chain Chord – Don’t worry about applying brute pulling force! The strong metal chain chord can withstand it! When you mount the rower you will be able to secure your feet comfortably using the nylon straps. The footpads are designed to cater for most feet sizes.
Digital LCD Monitor – You can track your time, speed, calories burned, strokes per minute rate, heart rate, and distance traveled. Especially useful for those of us who lead busy business or working schedules.
Chrome Seat Rail (Angled) – The design of the rail ensures a comfortable and smooth return to your starting point. The rail is made long enough to suit most heights (6ft plus).
Foam Padded Seat With Ball Bearer Rollers – The seat ensures comfort while you go about your workout. Ball bearer rollers enhance your rowing experience.
Assembly and Dimensions – Very easy to assemble can be done in under an hour. Height: 31.5 inches, Width: 19.5 inches, Length: 78 inches, Weight: 73 lbs.
Storage – Very easy to fold when finished with the workout. It has built on wheels for ease of movement to the desired storage area.
- Over solid strong build
- You determine resistance with your pulling power
- Super easy to assemble
- Good level of warranty
- Small basic monitor
- Noise from fan effect
- No manual resistance dial
Read Full Review: Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 Review
Best Bluetooth: Fitness Reality 1000 Bluetooth Magnetic Rower
A brand new elite rower, the Fitness Reality 1000 is the only one on the market with Bluetooth features built in!
This unique magnet rower comes with an Extended Optional Full Body Exercise and Free App (my CloudFitness App). This free App option is extremely valuable for those who love keeping a track record of all their rowing history (to motivate you to better fitness results).
The My Cloud Fitness App is an excellent tool for tracking all your workouts and setting fitness goals. It can be hooked up to other fitness equipment and is not exclusive to this machine.
It records a number of stats including calories burned, time taken to complete workouts, heart rates, your body weight, distance traveled, speed etc.
Additional Exercises Built-In (no other rower has these!) If you want an extreme full body work out to really push the boat out, this equipment provides it! You can use the machine to do front raises, side raises, tricep extensions and reverse grip curl (see more info here)
Easy Assembly – It can be fully assembled in 45-50 mins (tools are supplied)
Features & Specs
- Foot Pads – Anti-slip with adjustable strong straps
- Silent – you can easily listen to music or watch tv while rowing/exercising
- Bluetooth – My CloudFitness App, track workouts/set your goals
- Seat – spacious comfortable (cushioned)
- Built On Transport Wheels (easy to move around)
- Handle Bar (soft foam) – Extra Wide for better grip (suits all hand size)
- Resistance Levels – Controls 1-14 (set your challenge)
- LCD Monitor – 3.5″ screen (displays strokes/min, workout time, calories burned, distance traveled, batteries are supplied)
- Sturdy Strong Frame
- Weight – Up to 250lbs
- Recommended Height – 4ft 9in- 6ft 6 in
- Fully Assembled Foot Print – 88.5″ L x 21.5″ W x 21.5 H
- Folded – 39.5″ L x 21.5″ W x 53.5 H
- Product Weight – 64lbs
- Company Guarantee – 1 year
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 is ideally suited for budget seekers who want to begin their initial tentative steps into trying rowing at home and do not want to over commit financially. Suitable for all, ultimately a nice basic rowing machine under 500 dollars.
The machine operates on a hydraulic pump type motion (has a pump like a cylinder at the front with the rowing handle attached). So when you start moving up and down the seat you feel the pump motion(a bit like pumping a football)
It comes nearly fully assembled, a few minor things need to be done. It looks very small and compact. You are nearly perched up like on a bike.
Features and Specs
- Foot pedals (foot straps)- Quite Small pedals. The straps are pierced through the pedals.
- Cushion Seat – Looks hard plastic (basic)
- Hydraulic Pump Feature – Has 12 Resistance levels
- LCD Monitor – very small (batteries are included)
- Frame – Made of steel
- Light Weight – Just grab it and shift easy enough (not much strength required)
- Dimensions – 54″ L x 20″W x 23″ H (not very high off the floor)
- The machine is almost fully assembled
- Very compact (ideal for small spaces)
- Light Weight
- The seat can be wobbly (not really too secure)
- The cylinder/pump at the front and get very warm quickly
- The machine is quite low off the ground
- No transportation wheels
- Not too sturdy when rowing can move about a bit
Best Hydraulic: Stamina 35-1215 With Free Motion Arms
The Stamina 35-1215 Rower looks and feels different to almost all other fitness rowing machines currently available on the open market. So if you are looking for rowing aspects of a unique feel and experience, this could be the one!
Described as the rowing machine with dual-piston hydraulic resistance. It has two pump type hydraulic cylinders at each side of the machine. These providing the required resistance levels with the inbuilt adjustable tension controls. As you row back and forth you get the feeling of being on the water, but you’re in your own living space.
Assembly – Takes between 1-2 hours. The tools for the job are supplied (no need to buy extra)
One Button Monitor –Its a single button digital monitor measures the following: distance traveled, actual row counts, calories burned, speed of rowing, time-lapsed
Seat – It’s a well-padded seat, fully functionally and quite thick adds comfort to your bottom while you go about reaching your optimum rowing targets and fitness goals.
Aluminium Rowing Beam/Deluxe Ball-bearing Roller System – This function provides the smoothness of your rowing action and strokes and intensity. By increasing the incline of beam you add more edge and competition to your exercise session. The ball-bearing roller system under seat ensures the mimic gliding effect of being on actual water.
Foot Plates/Pads (Pivoting) – Adequate to fit many feet sizes (large and small). The pivot motion built-in ensures comfort, minimal chance of injury. The pads move in tandem with your rowing motion.
The Frame (Solid Steel) – Sturdy, strong steel frame manufactured to last many years.
Weight (individual) – 250 lbs
- Very compact (easy to stow)
- Easy assembly
- 5 Year frame guarantee
- Comfortable Padded Seat
- Some customers said it was noisy
- Bit of black dust after work out near the footpads (something grinding)
- Resistance level 1 felt hard (some buyers)
- The seat could be better padded
- No wheels (for ease of transportation)
Best Water Rower: SNODE Water Rowing Machine
With this rower bring the ultimate on-the-water fitness experience into your living space. The SNODE Water Rower challenges you constantly ensuring you do not hit a wall or plateau when trying to reach peak fitness (has built-in fitness programs).
SNODE are a relatively new company but they are already getting a great reputation for customer and fitness equipment that is built to last.
You could say the rower’s main feature is its round water tank at the core. The water tank has a rotational blade system fitted which spins around to provide the user with the resistance. Essentially you are competing with force the water system generates as the rowing intensifies. The experience and motions are very akin to being on actual water, many users find this relaxing and calm. It hardly makes any noise.
The rower machine is made of solid steel with an aluminum rail, strong and very sturdy.
Large LCD Monitor (set at easy viewing height, adjustable) Displays: Total time (500 meters time), Calories Burned, Strokes per minute, Room Temp, Distance rowed/traveled, Date (helps track your last sessions)
Resistance – This is determined by the amount of water that has been used during the rowing exercise. Water can be topped up or taken out with the funnel supplied.
Build-in Motivational Programmes – You can decide to go for the built-in programs, where you race against the computer, adding more competition and edge to your fitness goals. These features include calories countdown, stroke countdown, time countdown, distance countdown (whatever is your preferred target)
Assembly – Most buyers found the rower very easy to assemble (1 person job, tools supplied). Comes with easy to follow instructions and can be assembled in 1-2 hours (depending on your building experience).
Large Contoured Seat – Slightly bowl-shaped, it’s spacious to ensure comfort and maximize the performance of the rower. The seat can be set at an incline to increase the difficulty of rowing action.
Ergonomic Rowing Handles – Handlebars are padded. They are specifically designed to give you maximum comfort.
Numbered Flexible Foot Plates (fitted with large velcro straps) – The footpads are flexible/adjustable to suit all feet sizes and come fitted with large velcro straps. Feet can be safely secured and will not move out of position while you exercise.
Product Dimensions/Size/Stowage/Personal Weight Limit – Fully assembled size is 20″ x 36″ x 79″. Once the machine is totally folded it can be stowed in an upright position. The maximum personal weight is set at 331 lbs by the manufacturer
- Getting on and off the rower is very easy
- The motion and sound of water is very calming/soothing
- Large easy to see and read LCD monitor
- Fully functionally contoured seat (large, spacious)
- Lengthy Manufactures Warranty (frame, parts, labor)
- The footpads are made of a light plastic which don’t feel as strong as maybe they should be
- The seat could be made from a softer material (some buyers questioned comfort aspect)
Whether you want to simulate the sound and feeling of rowing on the water with a water rower, you need a super quiet exercise machine (the magnetic rower), or you like the inclusion of bluetooth and app, you’ll find there’s something for everyone in our above picks. There are many great options available in the best rowing machine under 500 range so you really don’t need to break the bank to get fit at home!