Hydrow Rower Machine Review | Best for Petite & Short People

As a former competitive gymnast, I’m particular about how I move my body and my fitness routine. Now, if you’ve been following me for awhile you know that cardio workouts were a challenge. I don’t naturally gravitate to cardio workouts without a coach, registering for a class that has a cancellation fee and forcing myself to push myself. So for the past 3+ years, my cardio came from Orange Theory Fitness studios. My favorite station at OTF…can you guess it?…THE ROWER machine!

Fast forward to the pandemic. I’m a critical care pharmacist and my partner and family work in healthcare (get to know me here). As we continued to social distance, we preferred to continue staying out of our gym to ensure safety for all.

In came at home workout options. I’ve already been a Bar Method online class member for several years and although I LOVE The Bar Method (combination of pilates, dance, yoga), it wasn’t cutting it for cardio workouts. So, in May I started looking into at-home workout options specifically focused on full-body, cardio equipment.

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What options I considered in searching for At-Home Cardio Equipment:

I looked into rowing machines, cycling machines and treadmills.

To narrow down my choices, I was honest with myself. Many people consider a treadmill a common and functional piece of equipment. For me, treadmills are limiting since I’m a power walker and can easily do the same exercise outside in natural air. My partner also prefers to run outside rather on a treadmill.

Next up, cycling machines. I was seeing so many people post on social media about their Peloton bikes. This was enticing because of the community feeling Peloton has created, especially among healthcare professionals, but I have never been to a cycling class. Not once. Add on the fact that Peloton had long delivery delays and limited maintenance/repair and I opted to let go of a cycling machine option.

That left rowing machines! I looked at: Hydrow, NordicTrack, Concept2, Echelon, and Ergatta Rower.

What I was looking for in a rowing machine:

Sleek design to fit into our 950 square foot home
Minimal feeling that fits within my KonMari lifestyle and Swedish style
Option to fold up the rowing machine
Large touchscreen monitor to see and hear coaches during workouts
Wi-fi and Bluetooth options for workouts and connecting to bluetooth headphones and/or bluetooth heart rate monitor
Competitive feeling with a leaderboard to stay engaged during a 20-60 minute workout (which is quite long on a rowing machine)
Milestones to track progress
Community to engage with other at-home rowers!

Hydrow Rower versus NordicTrack Rower

NordicTrack has 3 options for rowing machines
Only one NordicTrack rower has a large touchscreen monitor
Air resistance format
Larger design with large circle air resistance – not as sleek as Hydrow
Does not flip up to store, more of a lift and fold which doesn’t like friendly for day-to-day use

Hydrow Rower versus Concept2 Rower

Concept2 rower is a lower priced option for rowing machines
Does not have a touchscreen monitor
Even larger design with large circle air resistance – not as sleek as Hydrow or NordicTrack
Does not have the interactive community or leaderboard competitive feel

Hydrow Rower versus Echelon Rower

Echelon rower is a smart rower but does not offer a built-in touchscreen monitor – requires a tablet or phone to see workouts
Large design with circle air resistance
Does not flip-up to store
Some on-demand rows with leader boards

Hydrow Rower versus Ergatta Rower

Ergatta has a large 17 inch touchscreen monitor – slightly smaller than the Hydrow 22 inch touchscreen monitor
Sleek design that fits with minimal, Swedish, KonMari lifestyle
Flips up to store against wall just like Hydrow
Water rower function versus the Hydrow’s electromagnetic drag resistance function
The Ergatta rower is probably most similar to Orange Theory Fitness water rowers
Does not seem to have the same on-demand, live rows on the water with leaderboard and community function like Hydrow

Hydrow Rower – Why I chose it as a Petite Woman

Overall, the winner was the Hydrow Rower! The Hydrow rower had everything I was looking for in a rower (as listed above in the bullet points). Plus, it is petite friendly. A must for me as a 5’1″ 100 pound woman – not the typical size for a rower.

My favorites on the Hydrow Rower?

The community and competitive feel so I don’t feel alone. Like I stated in the beginning, I literally needed the consequence of losing my payment for the class to motivate me to actually show up for the cardio workout class! So, an at-home equipment was a concern for me – who was going to motivate me to show up and stay consistent on the Hydrow rower?


How am I using the Hydrow Rower?

Every single day! Yep, I usually row 7 days a week. When I miss a day, I can do one of the on-the-mat workouts instead such as pilates or strength on the Hydrow workout option list.

I love the Hydrow Crew Facebook Group and the Hydrow (unofficial) Shorties Facebook Group to participate in their competitions and share wins together!

I hit my 100,000 meter milestone in the first 4 weeks and am set to hit 250,000 meters in the next 2 weeks. The milestones also include weekly streaks and I’m on Week 10 of my streak. I received my Hydrow water bottle for hitting 100K meters and cannot wait to get my Hydrow socks for 250K meters. Of course, there are Million Meter clubs that I’m looking forward to join in 2021.

The team function has been fun since I met a pharmacist in another state when I joined Hydrow and her and I have a team together (healthcare heroes). It’s great because we have a Weekly Team Row for total meters and then a Team Minutes Leader Board. It’s been fun to see our team in the top 50 and top 100 with our combined minutes on the Hydrow each week. It’s another great accountability tool for working out and achieving our goals.

I also love being able to sort my leaderboard by age and gender. So, if I want to see my leaderboard position against everyone, then I can. But, I usually sort into female and 30s. I also don’t worry too much about being on top of the leaderboard – that’s not my goal. My goal is to acknowledge I’m a shortie and petite sized so I won’t be rowing the high meters like some other Hydrow members but I have my stats that I improve on. I aim for 1,400-1,500 meters every 10 minutes.

How did you fit your Hydrow rower into a small home?

I honestly wasn’t worried about finding a spot in our 950 square foot home. Because we live simply (as a Certified KonMari Consultant and simplifying coach myself), there is no clutter around. So, I had the option to set-up the Hydrow rower in our office space or hallway. I opted to set-up the Hydrow in our hallway between our kitchen island counter and hallway wall – it sounds weird but it works since the hallway is 7 feet wide. I set it up here since it is wood floors instead of carpet and it allows options in the office with my at-home Bar Method area.

The Hydrow is about 7 feet long by 3 feet wide. I can place a workout mat next to it for the On-the-Mat workouts (and the Hydrow monitor turns to view it on the side versus straight on). I opt to use the Hydrow app on my phone to watch these on my carpet office floor and mirror area instead.

How was the setting up the Hydrow rower?

The set-up was so smooth! I honestly will tell you that the box is enormous and a little overwhelming at first. But, after delivery into our entryway, it only took 30 minutes to unpack everything and start set-up. Another 30 minutes with two people and we got the screws in for the base and monitor and it was time for wi-fi sign-in and account sign-in.

Do you use rowing gloves with your Hydrow rower?

Yes, I do! I didn’t have rowing gloves when at OTF but definitely need them with longer rows and sweaty hands. I chose the ScullingGear Rowing gloves and LOVE THEM. I’ve washed them in a delicate laundry bag on delicate/cold cycle and air dry them. I wear a size XS in these ScullingGear rowing gloves.

I highly recommend ordering these gloves directly from ScullingGear instead of Amazon. Shipping was fast and supports a small business.

Is the Hydrow rowing a full-body workout? 

YES, it is! Rowing is ~60% legs, 20% arms and 20% abs in simple terms. You get a full-body workout when you focus on good technique and good form.

What bluetooth headphones do you use with the Hydrow rower that don’t fall out during the rows? 

My fiancé and I share the Jabra 75t wireless earbuds. To save some money since we don’t workout at the same time, I swap out the earbud cushion for the small version for and the larger version for him. This way we can share them without feeling dirty with separate earbud cushions that come with the headphones already. Buy the Jabra 75t here or the Jabra 75t active earbuds here.

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Hydrow Cardio Rower Workout BarMethod