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Review: Peloton Row

I’m almost annoyed by how much I like this premium hunk of metal.
Peloton Row Machine
Photograph: Peloton

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A sleek and sturdy machine with a large, responsive touchscreen display. The comprehensive database of fun and challenging streaming classes suits all skill levels. Class options extend beyond rowing to include strength, yoga, meditation, cardio, and stretching workouts. Myriad stats help you easily monitor each workout and track your progress over time.
It’s expensive and takes up a lot of space. White-glove delivery doesn’t include installation of the Upright Wall Anchor for vertical storage.

On mornings when the conditions were too poor to hit the water, my high school crew team was relegated to practicing in a dank garage overlooking the roiling Ohio river. Still dark at the outset, heavy with sleep, we slowly settled into a tidy line of ergometers, or indoor rowing machines—we just called them “ergs”—to best approximate our eight-person, 60-foot boat on the water.

No matter the specifics of the workout, one thing was constant: We generated near-tornadic winds (and the noise to match) with the air resistance fans on the creaky, uncomfortable, and largely analog machines as we moved in groggy unison.

The humble indoor rower has gotten a major tech makeover in the decades since, and the $2,995 Peloton Row is the latest example of this. Its built-in 23.8-inch touchscreen delivers easy access to thousands of interactive classes that can be streamed for a $44 monthly subscription. The classes are varying lengths and come complete with energetic music, charismatic instructors, and enough onscreen metrics to make a serious study of your workout goals if that’s your thing. Sensors in the seat and handle track your movements to make sure your form is consistent.

If you’re fully sold on the Peloton platform of streaming home workouts—despite the company's recent challenges, including a controversial holiday ad that sent its stock price plummeting, a treadmill and a bike recall, and multiple rounds of layoffs—you won’t be disappointed in this machine. However if you're simply looking for a solid indoor rowing experience, you can find what you need from Hydrow’s similar luxury erg. Hydrow charges the same monthly fee as Peloton for its streaming content, but its rower costs $2,195. Also, I prefer Hydrow’s massive library of classes taught on the water—a class type Peloton does offer, but not in great abundance.

Starting Out

Peloton’s pricing starts at $2,995 for the Row and an included wall anchor for stowing the machine vertically against a wall when it's not in use. Two subsequent tiers, at $3,225 and $3,470, tack on things like a mat for the rower, a separate workout mat for off-erg fitness classes, dumbbells, and a Peloton-branded Camelbak water bottle.

You can buy the accessories separately if you decide you want them later, but a single mat for the Peloton Row costs a whopping $85.

All purchase levels include white-glove delivery, which means you don’t have to drag the 156.5-pound machine inside your home or put it together yourself. Delivery does not include installation of the wall anchor, but Peloton strongly encourages having a professional installer handle this step, which I found oddly inconvenient.

Photograph: Peloton

The Row measures 7 feet and 10 inches long, 2 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. Peloton suggests 2 feet of clearance on all sides of the Row so you have room to move around the machine, get onto it, and climb off. You’ll need at least an 8-foot ceiling if you plan to store it upright using the anchor accessory. Two wheels on the front make it easier to reposition the thing, but make no mistake, the Row is massive and heavy. In addition to the space it takes up, you’ll need to make sure the delivery team has enough clearance to actually get it to the desired area of your home.

It can accommodate rowers with heights between 4'11" and 6'6", and the footrests can accept any size shoe between a women’s size 5 and a men’s 13.5. Peloton suggests users be 16 or older to use the Row. The machine supports a maximum weight of 300 pounds.

A lot of these specs closely mirror the Hydrow, but that machine is about 8 inches shorter and can handle up to 375 pounds.

In addition to its integrated 23.8-inch 1080p HD touchscreen and the standard footrests, sliding seat, and handlebars, the Row also has a cupholder and a little storage area where you can set your phone. The cupholder is a standard size and was too small for a 48-ounce Nalgene or either a 32- or 48-ounce Hydro Flask, but it does fit the 24-ounce Peloton Camelbak bottle. The storage area was just wide enough to fit my iPhone 14 Pro Max.

The main body of the rower is made of aluminum. The handle and some other components are made of molded plastic, and the belt is a thick woven material that looks and feels similar to a seatbelt.

Peloton’s rower also has a built-in camera with a privacy cover, but the company provides very few details about how the camera is intended to be used. A Peloton representative told me over email it was originally meant for video chatting, but the company ultimately decided not to enable the feature.

Once your Row is installed, a tutorial on the Peloton touchscreen walks you through the entire configuration process. This includes basics like entering your Wi-Fi credentials and timezone and creating a Peloton account if you don’t already have one.

The $44 per month membership gives you access to all of the classes and features available on the Row, plus full access to the app. The app offers all of the same classes if you’re at the gym or traveling, but still want a guided workout. You can create as many as 20 different profiles with one Peloton membership. A single membership extends to more than one piece of Peloton equipment in the same household from different product categories (like a Peloton Row and a Peloton Bike), but you need separate accounts to use a Peloton Bike and a Bike+ in the same home. It’s all a bit convoluted, but you can review all of the details on membership pricing and terms if you have questions.

Photograph: Peloton

The final step in the setup involves rowing briefly to calibrate the machine based on your form via sensors in the seat and handle. This Form Assist feature shows up later during classes, when it offers suggestions to help you maintain a consistent form.

Peloton’s Row pairs to Strava and Fitbit and is compatible with any ANT+ heart rate monitor. Peloton also sells its own heart rate monitor for $34.

If you sign in with your Spotify or Apple Music account, any song you “like” when you tap the heart on a given track during class will automatically be added to a playlist in your music streaming app of choice. Link your Facebook account to find friends who are also Peloton subscribers.

You can use Chromecast or AirPlay to connect the Peloton app to a TV if you’re working out away from home, but still want to view your classes on a bigger screen.

This whole setup process took me about 35 minutes from start to finish, which is longer than I would have expected at the outset.

Catch, Drive, Finish, Recovery, Repeat

Rowing is a fantastic full-body, low-impact workout. It engages 86 percent of your muscles and targets more muscle groups than either cycling or running.

My high school regattas consisted of 2,000-meter races, which Olympic and other professional athletes finish in well under 10 minutes. These “sprint competitions” are the ultimate high-intensity interval workout, but rowing is also great for longer aerobic sessions, recovery rides, and everything in between.

Peloton offers 708 rowing classes as of writing this (yes, I counted!) to suit whatever you’re looking for on a given day, ranging from five-minute HIIT rows to 60-minute endurance sessions.

The Row’s resistance is controlled electronically; the faster you row, the more intense the resistance. You can customize the drag factor, which is how much the resistance increases the faster you row. Peloton suggests sticking with the default option because it “simulates the feeling of rowing a boat in the most realistic way.” No erg gets that close to what it’s really like on a boat, but Peloton's default resistance setting felt like an accurate enough simulation to me.

During classes, you’ll see all sorts of stuff on the screen: your distance in meters, number of strokes, split pace in minutes per 500 meters, output in watts, stroke rate in strokes per minute, calories burned, and total output in kilojoules.

The aforementioned Form Assist window tells you how closely you’re matching the form you demonstrated during the Row’s initial configuration. The screen also shows a leaderboard where you can see how your workout compares to other rowers.

Peloton not only tracks your stats as you row, but the Row gives you a recap of how you did at the end of each class. Everything is saved in the Workout History tab should you want to review your numbers later.

I really like how easy it is to filter through your options to find classes. I also appreciated that you can hide any of the stats or other info on the screen during a class that might not interest you or that you might find distracting.

Peloton via Megan Wollerton

Peloton’s rowing classes are taught by the same caliber of enthusiastic instructors you get from its other workout categories, which is especially helpful on those days when you need a little extra motivation.

Some of the interactive components intrigued me. On-demand classes display who else is currently there, which approximates taking the class live even when it has already aired.

At various points I also noticed a feed below the leaderboard where other users give you kudos on a strong showing: “Katie B. high-fived.” You can also “follow” people who tend to take similar classes or row at the same level and filter your leaderboard to display just your curated list of followers. Peloton has nearly 7 million subscribers worldwide and a variety of hashtags you can use to find people with similar interests. The #WorkingMomsOfPeloton group has almost 250,000 members; the new #PelotonRowCrew hashtag has just over 1,000.

Photograph: Megan Wollerton

Along with the 700+ dedicated rowing classes, there are currently 116 bootcamp classes, which combine rowing with off-erg core and full body exercises in a single session. Many bootcamp classes call for dumbbells of varying weights, which you can either order through Peloton or buy locally. There are also thousands of strength, yoga, meditation, cardio and stretching classes that make good use of the touchscreen’s ability to rotate left or right 45 degrees so you can still see the screen from a yoga mat set up near to the Row.

In addition to classes, you can participate in various challenges, like the November Activity Challenge, which asks its current tally of almost 180,000 participants to complete at least 10 workouts during the month.

I especially enjoyed the Perfect Your Pace Targets program, which consisted of 10 rowing classes spanning three weeks to help build your comfort with maintaining a certain pace.

If you aren’t in the mood for any of those options, you can select “Just Row” and row with no instructor and nothing on the screen but the stats. There are some options to row unguided along virtual waterways in different parts of the world, like Kerala, India, or British Columbia, as well as a small selection of guided rowing classes with instructors actually out on the water.

A beta feature lets you connect to your Disney+, Max, Netflix, and YouTube TV accounts to stream your favorite show while you row. I started season 2 of Loki on Disney+ while rowing, which made for a fun (if not slightly chaotic) workout. There are also multiplayer “races” that pit you against others through a beta program partnership with rowing brand Ergatta. Their beta offering also includes the more abstract “meteor workouts,” which Ergatta says is “inspired by classic 2D side-scrolling games.”

Immersive Rowing at a Price

The Peloton Row is an excellent erg. I especially like the quietness of the machine and the large database of fun classes on Peloton’s platform. It’s easy to personalize your account to match your current level of fitness, experience with rowing, and particular workout goals. The HD touchscreen display also brings the Peloton studio into your home and makes you feel connected to the rest of the folks around the world exercising at the same time. I just wish the instructors taught more classes on the water.

The Row is also exorbitantly priced, and a ginormous beast at nearly 8 feet long. The fact that the included white-glove delivery service does not include the installation of the anchor accessory used for vertical storage makes its awkwardness and bulk stand out even more.

Peloton enthusiasts interested in adding regular rowing to their workout rotation will enjoy this product. Hydrow’s less expensive luxury rower and thousands of guided classes taught on the water offer a better overall value.