Rowing machines continue to soar in popularity, cultivating an excellent reputation for helping people get closer to their unique fitness goals. They certainly work as advertised (excellent for both fitness and weight loss) but when looking to buy one for your home, how do you choose which one?
When doing your research you’ll come across quite a few different brands, including a particularly popular one called Sunny Health & Fitness.
This leading distributor is well-known for providing a wide range of health and fitness products at very affordable prices, and they don’t disappoint with their budget model, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine.
If you’re looking for an in-depth review of this rower, then read on. By the end of this article hopefully you’ll have decided whether or not this is the rowing machine for you!
First things first though:
What is a magnetic rower?
A magnetic rower uses strong magnets in the flywheel that adjust to create resistance. The particular benefits of a magnetic rowing machine is that it is very quiet – almost silent (and much quieter than an air rower), although it rows equally smoothly. That makes the magnetic rower particularly good for home use because you won’t disturb anyone!
8 Levels of adjustable Magnetic Resistance
Designed with an improved 8-leveled magnetic resistant system, this model allows you to increase or decrease the intensity of your workout simply by twisting the tension knob on the mainframe. When you raise the resistance level, you create more challenging workouts. The resistance levels are sufficient enough to create several effective workout patterns and unique routines, which stimulate muscles differently.
You get to enjoy low impact aerobic, as well as cardiovascular exercises with mid to maximum level resistance. This feature basically allows you to row into shape at a higher stroke rate while keeping your pulse in a healthy heart rate range.
LCD Monitor Screen
The rowing machine is equipped with a functional basic LCD Monitor screen to help track your workout progress. The console unit will display the time you’ve been rowing, the number of calories burned, count (strokes), and total count (total strokes) made.
There’s the Scan function, which you can use repeatedly to see the value for each feature for a couple of seconds. This makes keeping up with all calculations a lot easier.
The Mode key featured in this console unit allows you to scroll through the values. With the Set key, you are able to select one feature to track. If you want to delete workout data and start tracking your progress a fresh, then use the Reset Key.
This console unit uses 2 AA batteries, so you shouldn’t worry about having an extra electrical outlet.
The rower has a fully padded seat which is in a pretty good rowing position, providing you with maximum comfort during lengthy and intense workout sessions.
A good seat can make a major difference in achieving your fitness goals. Workouts on a bad seat can easily cause pressure on the glutes and hamstrings, and will begin hurting your sitting bones after a few minutes. No seat is perfect (nor is this one), but it’s good enough to let you get a decent workout.
Large Foot Pedals with Safety Straps
The foot pedals on Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine are nicely textured to provide you with a non-slip surface, allowing for an ergonomic position of your feet. These pedals are complemented with high-quality straps, so you can be sure that your feet will remain in position even during the most vigorous workouts.
Foam Grip Handlebars
Another feature worth mentioning is its non-slip grip handlebars with adequate padding designed to offer you great comfort, allowing you to complete the long rides effectively.
Sleek Sturdy Construction
Most of the parts that make up the frame construction, such as the main rail and bases are made of silver-dyed steel, which is resistant to corrosion. The parts where the flywheel and other internal parts are attached — are also made of steel.
Well, the resistance system and flywheel casing are the main plastic parts. With the bases, they are not only made of steel, but also finished with plastic caps. And to prevent the bases from scratches on irregular flooring, the manufacturer has included rubberized and adjustable stabilizers.
What we like about it
Easy storage: Storage is unlikely to be a concern with this model, as it can be folded up and the footprint is minimal. The rower also comes with in-built wheels that make it easy to move around. Its folded dimension is 37 X 19 X 53.5 inches. If your home space is small, this one would definitely fit the bill.
Lightweight design: It weighs 59lbs, so it’s relatively easy for almost anyone to carry or move it. It’s also got rollers so you don’t even need to lift it because you can just roll it along.
Incredibly quiet: While this magnetic resistant rower is not dead silent, it’s much quieter compared to most machines that use the air resistance system. It is quiet enough that you can work out without causing disturbance to a person sleeping in the next room. A lot of people enjoy working out early in the morning or late at night while their family sleeps, and this rowing machine won’t wake anyone up!
Supports up to 250lbs: The rail is sturdy enough to support people with weight up to 250 pounds. If you’re heavier than this there are better models out there that will meet your weight requirement.
Reasonably comfortable: It comes with non-slip foam grip handlebars and padded seats. No rowing seat is 100% comfortable (especially if you row for a long time) but this one is actually okay.
Inexpensive model but durable: Although the SF-RW5515 has a sturdy construction due to its high-quality materials that can withstand continuous and intense use in the long-term, it’s still available at a very affordable price. Obviously, at this price you can’t compare it the top level air rowers on the market but you WILL be able to get a decent workout. Which is what most people want from a home rower.
Long seat rail: With over 7” of space, it’s fair to say that the seat rail is long enough to accommodate almost every user looking for a comfortable rowing experience. I’ve seen people up to 6’5″ comment that this rower is suitable even for a tall person.
Assembly is easy! Users are provided with easy to follow step-by-step instructions that will guide them in assembling the rowing machine (even the smaller pieces come in clearly labelled clear plastic bags). Most reviewers were able to assemble it within a few minutes, typically less than 20 minutes, and usually without help!
Doesn’t track distance and heart rate: One of the major complains reported by customers is that the LCD monitor screen doesn’t provide information about heart rate or display the distance covered during workouts.
Lacks a backlit feature: You can only use this rower during the day or when the lights are on.
If you’re already very fit you might achieve maximum resistance pretty quickly.
Magnetic rowers tend to be not quite as reliable and long-lasting as air rowers. You’ll still get a great workout (and the rowing machine should last beyond the warranty period), but they’re not quite the same quality as an air rower. Of course this is also reflected in the price!
Who is it most suited to?
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly magnetic rowing machine with decent features that can help you enjoy a physically demanding home workout, then the SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine might be a good pick. It’s particularly good for those new to rowing or looking to improve their fitness level.
The rower is well-constructed with comfort in mind, and it supports full-body cardio exercises that work multiple groups of muscles like deltoids, biceps, glutes, rhomboids, hamstrings, and quads.
This rowing machine has been on the market for a few years already, but it continues to fetch plenty of positive feedback from users – check out Sunny rowing machine reviews.
However, we must say it is more suited to beginner and intermediate levels of fitness. If you’re already very fit or a long term fan of rowing (and can afford the extra expense) you might want to invest in a more feature-laden model such as one of the “top of the market” Concept2 models D or E. These are more suitable for an intense workout and are very popular with athletes, although they are 4x the cost (if you factor in the price difference this definitely gives Sunny the edge!).