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Peloton Row Offers A Premium Indoor Training Experience

Jul 21, 2023

You don't have to match your mood lighting to your rower, but it helps.

Having been a runner for over a decade, I’ve built up my fair share of minor (and somewhat major) injuries. I've also been phenomenally bad at taking care of said injuries. That's why I wasn't exactly surprised when, after a sustained break from running to "let myself heal up," I found that pretty much any return to "serious mileage" just aggravated things anew.

So if 10+ miles per week of running wasn't in the cards for me, I needed to find something to fill that cardio gap. After all, I have a job that doesn't have me moving around much and I'm pushing 50…with the strained waistband to show for it.

That's when I discovered rowing. Well, I'd known about rowing machines before, having endured the machines at my local OrangeTheory gym. But this new generation of home rowing machines is different, offering world-class instruction and electronic resistance drives that make them sleek, contained devices that offer more than your standard rower.

I first tried out Hydrow, which provided an excellent design and solid, if not slightly awkward, instruction. Their focus is very much on the incredible locations they travel to. Places like New Zealand and Japan that take your breath away for reasons other than you're going for max effort in the final minutes of your workout.

Then Peloton reached out with an offer to test out their machine, appropriately named the Peloton Row. And while I loved testing the Hydrow, it was with the Row that I truly found my rowing groove.

The Peloton Row is sleek, black, 8-foot long rowing machine with a 24-inch HD swivel touchscreen (for moving around when you're off the rower), that can be stored in an upright position when not in use (with the included wall anchor).

Peloton Row, weights and mat not included

The Row is a gorgeous machine and runs whisper quiet. In fact, you'll make more noise working out than the machine does. The action on the pull is smooth and the resistance is immediate. Much like a well-made car, everything you touch feels premium. Even the rowing handle, which I initially griped about because it was too smooth, builds up a texture over time that makes it easier to grip.

Where the magic happens

The seat is firm without being overly hard and sculpted to promote proper positioning. With a raised bump in the middle, you won't be scooting to the edge during your workout (or if you do, it won't be for long). I especially like the cubbies built into the rower near the handle dock. One for your water, one for your phone, and one for a towel.

Peloton Row stored upright

And if you need to reclaim space after you work out, you can stand the Rower in an upright position and secure it with a wall anchor. Getting it up is fairly easy but make sure you have the strength to bring it down without dropping it. Also you’ll need to make sure you have 8-foot ceilings.

Rowing, in and of itself, can be a tedious exercise. With unfamiliar metrics and a seemingly glacial pace, sitting down at a rowing machine and knowing if you're doing well or not can be elusive. It's not like a treadmill or bike where you've got mileage and speed metrics. I know that before this year, I always dreaded rowing when I had to do it…mostly because I didn't know how to properly row.

The Peloton Row takes care of that by having you go through a quick orientation and full-body calibration the first time you sit down. It then uses this to give you instant form feedback on screen during workouts.

When I converted my dining room into a pandemic gym, I went all in

Within seconds of my first class, the Form Assist was highlighting all the little cheats that I'd accumulated from my month or so of rowing on the Hydrow Rower, namely bending my knees too early in my recovery and leaning back too soon in my drive. Once I paid closer attention to fixing these form issues, I could immediately feel the benefits. And when I have a workout that doesn't feel like it was as effective as usual, I can go back through and check my form rating and insights to see what I did wrong.

Personal pace targets help you dial in an overall effort for classes and can be adjusted on the fly. Rather than lamenting that you can't hold a single rowing target pace for the entire 20 minutes like your Olympics-seasoned instructor, Peloton Row's target windows for pace and cadence are generous, allowing you blessed leeway.

The interface in general is well tuned to rowing. Little things make the difference. Take for instance the high five widget, which is on the left-hand side, mid-screen on the Tread and Bike. On the Row, it's in the lower-right corner so that it's easily to interact with without having to totally let go of the handle.

Oh, and did I mention that most classes are 20 minutes? That's the expectation, not the exception. You'll get a full-body cardio workout that works your legs, back, and core in 20, maybe 30, minutes.

New classes are added weekly

Unlike Hydrow, where they use new locations to bring fresh interest each month, Peloton drives you to sit down and get working with engaging instructor content (there are scenic rows, they just aren't the focus).

I've said this before and I'll say it again, no one can hold a candle to Peloton's instructors. Unlike Hydrow, which offers classes led by rowing athletes, Peloton's classes are led by trainers who are rowing. It's a subtle but noticeable difference.

Katie Wang, especially, seems to truly understand the assignment. Rather than just providing effort targets and inspirational messages, she follows the leaderboard for her live classes, commenting when members are going above and beyond or when they appear to be duking it out for position. Or maybe she’s just talking about her cat, Ma’am. The difference is, I get the same feeling I do when I’m working out in person with a personal trainer. This is a person that isn’t just going through a script, she’s experiencing the class with you.

Peloton's Row Boot Camp classes, just like with their Bike, Tread, and Guide, continue to be top notch. The weight exercises are varied and sufficiently difficult and the rowing feels like a substantial part of the class, not just an add-on.

Some people may prefer not being reminded of the fact that they're on a machine and not outdoors but I like the camaraderie that Peloton instructors always seem to bring to the table. Yes, we're all in separate rooms on separate machines, but we're doing the same thing together and that makes it much more engaging.

About the only critique I have of the classes is that I want more of them! Row content doesn't drop with quite the cadence of Peloton's other Tread, Bike, and Guide classes. It's a real shame, as the classes I've taken on the Row have been some of the most engaging that I've enjoyed from Peloton. That's not to say there isn't plenty of content available. You could row every day for a year and still have plenty of content leftover.

The Peloton Row has become a welcome addition to my home cardio routine in a very short amount of time. Since it was delivered, I've only used the Tread occasionally to take a Lanebreak or hiking class (if you haven't taken Rebecca Kennedy's latest scenic hike, you need to get on that).

Being the flagship machine for a new category, the Peloton Row carries a premium price tag at $2,995. That includes delivery but doesn't include the $44 a month Ultimate Membership subscription that you need to be able to take classes. The membership does give you access to the Peloton app, as well as classes on any other Peloton hardware you might own. And as I’ve said, the content is more than worth it.

Thankfully, Peloton does offer a 30-day trial so you can see if you're willing to invest in the Row. Though I think once you've tried it, you'll keep coming back. Get started on the Peloton Row page.