The Hydrow Connected Rower made me actually enjoy rowing—here's why

The beginner-friendly smart rowing machine is a great way to exercise at home

Hydrow rowing machine
(Image credit: Future)

I've never been a big fan of indoor rowing. I don't generally enjoy cardio exercise all that much, and I'd always believed that rowing was primarily about improving your cardio fitness. But there's more to it than that. 

As I recently found out, the Hydrow, regularly ranked as one of the best rowing machines, is a great way to get a full-body workout without leaving your home. Its magnetic resistance system is near-silent so that you won't disturb others in your house.

I think my misunderstanding of the rowing machine benefits really came down to the fact I was doing it wrong—my technique was all over the place, and my lack of form meant that I hunched my back and barely worked my core.

I'd only ever really used rowing machines independently at the gym, so it was initially a shock to load up one of the Hydrow's virtual classes and have an instructor (in this case, Olympian Aquil Abdullah) properly guide me through the technique.

Memorial Day Hydrow deal

Hydrow Connected Rower | Was $2,494.99, now $1.994.99 at Best Buy

Hydrow Connected Rower | Was $2,494.99, now $1.994.99 at Best Buy

The Hydrow Connected Rower comes with near-silent magnetic resistance, a stylish unibody design, and an immersive 22-inch touchscreen display.

You can stream 1,000s of on-demand sessions or join one of Hydrow's live classes to get a full-body, metabolism-boosting workout without leaving your home. Take advantage of this rare 25% discount before the deal ends.

Once I realized that the aim wasn't just to drag your arms back but to activate your core and take a more controlled approach to bending your legs, sliding forward and back, then ending with a solid upper body, I started to feel the muscles worked by rowing machines.

Hydrow's accessible approach to rowing helped, too, as all of the instructors took time to explain each workout, why it was effective, and how to improve your technique. Plus, some of the on-location workouts were filmed near my house, which felt exciting.

As we found in our Hydrow review, you do need a Hydrow membership to use the virtual workouts, which costs $38 a month, but this also gives you access to the Hydrow smartphone app to access the company's yoga and strength training routines when you're away from your machine.

If you like the sound of at-home workouts with the Hydrow but feel unsure of where to start, this Best Buy deal bundle also includes a complementary 1:1 virtual coaching session to get you started and focus on your rowing machine technique

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.