Julio Reguero

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A collection of random thoughts relating mostly to design, but occasionally life lessons, and other experiences full of meaning.

I just got my new Hydrow delivered, the Peloton of rowing machines

I have to say that I'm really impressed with this rowing machine. It offers an impressive level of features and class variety that put it on par with similarly priced tech fitness equipment, and the design is sleek-looking and really stand out from its category.

A perfect balance of innovative design, digital precision and immersive content

Measuring 86 inches by 25 inches, Hydrow can be stored upright with a mounting device to minimize the necessary storage space. It’s built to meet commercial-grade quality standards and is compatible with any sports shoe. The seat is comfortable (Hydrow said it can hold up to 350 pounds). There are 300 different levels of resistance and you can adjust that on-screen in a settings menu while a workout is in progress. I like the emphasis of the product on community. Rowing with other people is what makes the sport both beautiful and demanding, but once you fall into a rhythm, it's not only satisfying but also meditative.

Maximum muscle engagement

This fitness machine promises to help you burn up to 400 calories in a 20-minute workout by engaging 86% of your muscles at once. The workouts vary in both length and intensity. I've seen them range from 10 to 45 minutes, broken into categories like Sweat, Breathe, Push and Drive.

An effective and enjoyable workout that brings the river to your home

Hydrow distinguishes itself from other rowing machines through its subscription platform that lets you stream live and on-demand workouts led by world-class athletes, including rowers who are training for the U.S. national rowing team. Users will watch a rowing instructor out on the water, either live-streamed or pre-recorded and follow their instructions for the workout.

This platform is designed to mimic the sights, sounds, and feeling of being in the water to give you comparable workout experience. You’ll need a strong internet connection to make this work.

There's certainly room for improvement in the user interface

As you exercise, the Hydrow screen will display the instructor on the water as well as your time left in the set, your average time for rowing a set distance (typically 500 meters), your total distance, calories burned, and heart rate. It will also display your rank compared to others who are doing the workout at the same time, and those who have completed it in the past.

What does Hydrow cost?

Hydrow retailed for $2,199. All orders qualify for free standard shipping, which the company values at $200. In the future, the company plans to offer payment plans for financing. There are also numerous accessories you can buy to improve your Hydrow exercise experience. You don’t need to purchase a monthly subscription to use Hydrow, but without doing so, you won’t have access to the company’s live and on-demand classes. This costs $38 per month. Some people will find it an overpriced option for exercising compared to a gym membership or traditional rowing machines, but those same people likely aren’t interested in Peloton either.

Once the rower is delivered, you have up to 14 days to try it out and request a full refund (minus return shipping) if you aren’t satisfied. Regarding the warranty, Hydrow labor is covered for a year, the screen and other electronics for two, and the frame and other mechanical parts for five. This warranty isn’t transferable to new owners.

Final thoughts

I'm not saying rowing is for everyone, much less that it's a good idea to spend $2,199 on a piece of exercise equipment plus a $38 monthly subscription unless you already know you're fond of the sport. Rowing is hard, relentless. It is repetitive, with few breaks, and your hands will develop blisters. But it's also a rigorous cardio workout and will strengthen nearly every muscle in your body, and that's part of what makes it such an effective workout.

You can learn more about the design process of this next-generation fitness solution here.

Julio RegueroComment