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July 21st, 2007

Buying a rowing machine can be a daunting experience. With so many different brands and rowers to choose from it’s difficult to know which is the right one for you. However, if you follow a few guidelines then you should be able to narrow your choice and select a machine that will meet your needs.

How much do I want to spend?
The amount of money you have available to spend and how you’re going to it will influence the type of rower you should buy. As a rule of thumb, the more you have to spend the better the build quality, the more functions you get and aftercare service.

How much space have I got?
Rowing machines occupy a reasonable amount of space. Therefore measure the amount of space you have available and compare this with the dimensions of the rower you’re thinking of buying.

If space is an issue then consider a folding machine. These have improved dramatically in recent years. The more reputable brands are of solid construction, and have excellent functionality.

How will I use the rower?
Depending on how you’re going to use the rower will depend on the type you should buy. If you’re mostly going for a gentle workout then you could buy a cheaper machine with less solid construction. However, if you’re looking to do some serious cardio workouts then you’ll need to spend at the higher end of the market.

What type of resistance is there and how is it controlled?
Most rowing machines use one of the following different methods of creating resistance. These are:

Hydraulic Resistance Rowers - Compressed air or fluid within a cylinder or piston creates the resistance. The resistance can be adjusted manually.

Air (Or Flywheel) Resistance Rowers - The resistance is provided by an air resistance flywheel. A Spiral damper controls airflow to the flywheel allowing users to choose the feel of a sleek, fast boat or a slow, heavy boat The resistance comes from your own pace, so the harder you pull, the greater the resistance as the fan speed increases.

Magnetic Resistance - These use magnetic braking with a flywheel construction to create a very smooth, and virtually silent, rowing action. This type of resistance will be found on models in the mid to higher range and offer a very comfortable work-out. The resistance is adjusted by a manually controlled permanent magnet.

Water Resistance - Water rowing machines use a special water flywheel (resistance tank) which has been designed to match the actions of a boat moving through water. Water rowing machines automatically adjusts resistance to equal the amount of work being done.

What maximum user weight should I get?
Most manufacturers specify the maximum user weight for their machines. As a guide, choose a machine that has a Max. User Weight of around 20kg (45lbs) more than the heaviest user. This will help to reduce the workload on the machine.

How much warranty can I expect?
Most manufacturers will cover parts and labour for the first two years. If you’re going to be using your rower a lot then look for a warranty cover that has a lifetime on the frame and longer period for parts and labour.

Try before you buy.
It may not be possible to try a rower before you buy it, but you should at least go down to your local fitness store and have a look around. You can always ask your friends for their experiences of rowing machines and they may be able to give you some pointers.

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