This post picks up from the end of the first post, Part 1. Here I’ll describe why I zeroed in on rowing machines as the method for improving my own physical well-being, give background to my own research on rowers, and also provide a detailed comparison on two of the most popular machines. I’ll talk briefly about home vs. fitness centre machines. And I’ll conclude by sharing some of my results after approximately 8 weeks of concentrated use.
Why a Rowing Machine vs. Something Else?
When I first saw a rowing machine I learned that 80% of a person’s muscle mass is affected by regular rowing exercise. 80%? That, impressed me. Here is is a link to a document that describes how the muscles are affected during a rowing session. I can see where the 80% is validated. Maybe you’ll reach the same conclusion.
Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine
I wanted also to understand the health benefits of using a rowing machine. In summary, here is what I found out: Using a rowing machine can help to build and tone your muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular function and increase your stamina. Rowing machines are particularly effective for older fitness enthusiasts because they place no strain on your back and joints. Click here to learn more about the benefits.
Choosing a Rower or Something Else
I concluded a rowing machine would be the way to go. Something else really never came into my thinking. I definitely did not want to go to a fitness centre and have to fight to get on the rowing machine. No, my thinking at this point was, home machine. But, which one? Choosing a rower is like buying a new car…..there are so many options. I needed to narrow my search.
Criteria for Choosing a Rowing Machine
Rowing machines may all have similar designs, but where they can differ the most is in their form of providing resistance. This is where your workout is going to be the most effective. The types of resistance include: water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance and, piston/hydraulic resistance. Each type of resistance has its benefits and unique rowing feel, so be sure to take that into consideration.
- Comfort and Adjustability: The best rowers will have a comfortable seat, good foot pads, and some adjustability.
- Noise Level: Some indoor rowing machines are noisier than others. But a silent machine isn’t necessarily for everyone. Some people appreciate the rushing noise as a kind of feedback that they’re working hard.
- Workout Space: You’re going to need a good amount of dedicated floor space in your home to comfortably and safely place your rowing machine. Rower length varies, and they are usually rather narrow, but almost all have long footprints.
- Maximum User Weight: Rowing machines can usually handle higher weight than most other exercise machines. There are less moving parts to become stressed by heavier users.
- Storage Features: Several rowing machines are easily disassembled, others not so easy. Make sure you check it out.
- Row Computer / Monitor: Most good rowing machines come with a handy computer that tells you information such as distance, time, and calories burned. Additionally, check to see if the rower you’re looking at has the option to connect to apps so you can upload data and be able to track your progress.
- Ease of Assembly: You might only have to assemble your row machine one time, but you want that one time to not be a total nightmare. Do your due diligence and make sure you’re not getting some crazy puzzle instead of a piece of exercise equipment.
My Research Continued…
I made an inquiry to Fitness Town regarding popular brands; and here is their response:
“We have carried all sort of brands & types of resistances over the years. Everything from LifeSpan, to Proform, to First Degree, to WaterRower, Concept 2, Life Fitness and many more. In the last 12-18 months we have really dialed in our rower selection and limited them to premium, name-brands and high quality rowing machines”
– Malcolm Wheeler, Marketing Manager.
With all that information, I decided to research “the most popular rowing machines”. My conclusion was: either air machine, Concept2, or water resistance, WaterRower. If you’ve done any research of products on the Internet, you probably know the minefield that awaits. After many, many reviews with all the Pros and Cons of each brand, I came across an amazing article written by James Stroud. His comparison, and very detailed analysis of both the Concept2, and WaterRower, covers all the bases, and then some!
For those new to rowing machines, you will find pretty much all you need to know to make a choice, after reading the article. But, for those who just want an overview: you cannot go wrong with either machine. Both are top quality and will last for years. You need to do your own research for prices. The Senior’s Blog does not recommend one brand over another.
My Interim Results
I have been using my rowing machine for approximately eight weeks; and I track my progress on a detailed spreadsheet, but more about that in another post. Energy Level? Way up. Flexibility? Noticeable improvement in back and shoulders. Weight Loss? 2 lbs. Overall? I feel healthier and more alive.
For the next posting, I’ll talk about two topics: Assessing Your Current State of Health and, Understanding Heart Rate Ranges and Calorie Burn.