When the Hydrow Wave launched last month, a rower they said would be a lighter and smaller version of its original smart rower, the Hydrow, I was excited to try it. But if like me, you've only got a limited amount of space in your apartment, you'll struggle to know where to put it.
The Hydrow rowing machine was launched originally in 2018. The smart machine is like the Peloton Tread, one of our best treadmills: a super-streamlined piece of kit allowing access to hundreds of on-demand classes. It's great, but I still have to climb over it every morning to get to my desk on the other side of my living room.
I became a big fan of rowing after a friend convinced me to join her at a rowing class, which had water-based rowers. We became addicted to the all-over body workout, where a PT helped us through a 40 minutes class, with HIIT and strength-based elements to it. But when lockdown hit I moved to virtual workouts, saving me time and money.
So, I was intrigued when the Hydrow launched in the UK early last year, but I knew I’d never fit it in my apartment – the rowing machine, which weighed 145 pounds and was 86 inches (219 cm) in length would have filled my whole living room – plus I knew my flatmate at the time, who wasn’t remotely into fitness, probably wouldn’t have been impressed with it taking over her space.
But when the Hydrow Wave launched a couple of months ago, which promised to be 30% lighter and six inches (15cm) shorter, it seemed like a good idea to try it out. However, I winced as they delivered it and placed it right in the middle of my living room, in front of my TV and next to my Peloton. It was huge, and I still had to climb over it to get to my desk every morning. Luckily the rowing machine can also be folded upright, storing it vertically, so it gives me some room when friends come over.
And while I knew the Wave would be a great all-over body workout, I wasn’t prepared to get so addicted. The smart TV which is attached to the rower, just like the Peloton, is an easy way to immerse yourself in very realistic workouts.
With thousands of on-demand and live classes, just like the original Hydrow, I didn't really know where to start, but picked a 20-minute HIIT class and was, straight away, impressed with how immersive it felt. Unlike the clunky rowing machines, I'd tried before it felt smooth and literally like I was rowing on water.
Unlike the Peloton, most of the instructors are Olympic athletes, coaches or professionals in their field, so with every stroke, you feel as though you're being guided by someone in the know.
Another difference to a normal rowing machine is the resistance of your stroke or drag is controlled via the smart TV, like a volume control button you can swipe it from easy to challenging. This took a little getting used to but felt like a more streamlined way to control the resistance.
Another selling point, according to Hydrow, is how quiet the machine is, but I'm not sure if my neighbors below would agree. The electromagnetic drag technology, which controls the machine, is in fact quieter than most rowing machines, but the seat as it goes back and forth can be a little noisy. If you had family or flatmates in the next room, I assume would probably distract them – a mote that the Wave isn't quite as "whisper quiet" as its marketing might like you to believe.
The sweaty and intense workouts you get from the machine are worth the noise though. After a few workouts I understood why the Hydrow machines were so popular: I felt it most in my upper body: working the top of my back and the backs of my arms, muscles which are always forgotten about.
I can’t wait to see how my fitness levels change after using it more regularly over the next few weeks – but I’ll definitely be storing it vertically so it doesn’t take over my apartment. I'd be interested to see how it stacks up against the new Peloton Row.
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Sarah is a freelance writer - writing across titles including Woman&Home, Fit&Well, TechRadar, the Independent and the BBC. She covers a variety of subjects, including trends in beauty, business and wellness - but her biggest passions are travel and fitness. She can normally be found trying out the latest fitness class or on a plane to an exotic destination. While she loves to combine the two - signing up to do hiking holidays in LA, intense boot camps in Bali - last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddleboarding around deserted islands in Croatia.