Let’s be real – investing in gym equipment for your home is expensive. That’s why, if you’re in the market for home gym equipment, it pays to read articles like this one that provide a good, honest and thorough review of the machine/s you’re looking at before you part with your hard-earned cash.
In this article, I’m going to tell you all about the Echelon Smart Rower, including what makes it different from a regular rower, my own personal experiences with the machine, and listing its various pros and cons.
Toward the end of the article, I will wrap up with my final verdict on the machine, at which point you will be much more well-informed, and hopefully in a position to decide if the machine is right for you.
Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section that catches your attention.
Why Invest In A Rower Anyway?
Rowing is an excellent form of exercise. You work out all of your limbs, your legs and your arms, and when done properly, you can also work on your core and your posture as well.
But it’s not just for strength training. If you row at pace, you can really get your heart rate going, at which point it switches to cardio exercise rather than just strength training. And this means that you get your body into that fat burning zone, which is just what you need if you want to lose a few pounds.
A rower offers the user incremental workouts, so you can start as gradually as you like, with minimal tension, and as your fitness level progresses, you can increase the tension level, and push yourself as far as you want to go.
What’s The Difference Between The Echelon Smart Rower And A Regular Rower?
In their smart rower, Echelon has taken everything that’s good about rowers and built on it by incorporating smart technology to hook up your workout to their app, which is available for both phones and tablets, including both Apple and Android devices.
And this is where the Echelon Smart Rower really comes into its own. Through the app, you can access thousands and thousands of rowing classes from world-class instructors. This includes many classes that you can access on demand, and some live classes too, to give you that extra push.
Amongst the on-demand classes, you can get classes which emulate being out rowing on open water, and this has gone down incredibly well with consumers. Customer reviews state that this adds a whole new dimension to their workout, making it a much more enjoyable experience.
It has some great convenience features, too. It folds up very compactly when you’re not using it. And you can rotate the device holder so that you can use the app for any off-rower exercise you want to do, such as yoga or Pilates.
Stowing the machine away is easy thanks to the built-in wheels, it just glides away.
I was pleased to learn that Echelon backs their smart rower with both a 100% 30-day money-back guarantee, and also a 12-month manufacturing warranty that covers both parts and labor.
I didn’t need to use the after-sales support myself, but from what I gather from elsewhere on the net, people seem to be happy with the brand’s customer service.
My Personal Experience With The Machine
Unboxing and Assembly
When my rower arrived, I couldn’t wait to unbox it. I had someone with me to assemble it, which helped. But it wasn’t too difficult, and I reckon I could have done it by myself if I really had to.
I was able to adjust the device holder to either hold my smartphone or my tablet as required.
Using The Machine Before Signing Up
The mechanics of actually getting secured into position and rowing on the machine went just fine. It has ergonomic, comfortable handlebars and the seat glides easily along the machine without any friction.
I was impressed with the number of resistance levels available to choose from, a whopping 32 altogether. The lowest level of resistance felt like it required no effort whatsoever. But in stark contrast I could barely pull the handlebars at all at level 30.
Before I registered for membership, I hooked my smartphone up to the machine via Bluetooth and downloaded the app. I found the app very intuitive and easy to use.
Then I decided to sign up for the standard monthly subscription, because I wanted to view all of my workout stats and check out some of the classes, so I could report back to you guys on here.
Using The Machine Following Membership Subscription
One thing that frustrated me about using the app to record my workout is that I couldn’t use any other apps on my smartphone at the same time. But maybe that’s a good thing because it encourages concentrating on working out.
But I did like the fact that one subscription can be used for up to 5 users, so my partner gets to use the classes too at no extra cost.
I tried some of the classes where you’re presented a video which made me feel as if I was actually rowing on open water. I could see the waves on my tablet as I rowed and a nice blue sky overhead.
The thing was, I found it a little too relaxing. It wasn’t really the energizing workout experience I’d been hoping for. But I can certainly see why it would appeal to others, especially if they’ve had a long, hard day and want to unwind and workout at the same time.
The great thing about this video was that you don’t have to lose track of your stats as you use it, because all your key data is superimposed over the video.
If you are going to do the open water video, I recommend doing it with a large tablet rather than a small smartphone for the best possible experience.
The live classes were quite the opposite though – there’s energising, muscle pumping music pounding through, and I was really pushed hard by the instructor.
Value For Money
Ok, I’m just going to level with you here. The Echelon Smart Rower is not a budget rower. You can get rowers on sites like Amazon for under $300, and the Echelon rower typically costs 5 times that.
But you can’t really compare the Echelon Smart Rower to a regular rower. You have to also take into account all the awesome features you get, that a standard regular rower simply doesn’t have.
Besides, when you compare it to the cost of other high-end smart rowers like the NordicTrack RW Rower, which is nearly $3000, this makes the cost of the Echelon rower seem much more affordable, at about half the cost.
Unfortunately, the costs do not necessarily stop after the initial purchase. You can see some of your workout metrics on the app without a subscription, but if you want to view your resistance level, that incurs a subscription fee.
You do however have a choice of subscription plans to consider…
When this article was written, the standard plan, the Echelon United Monthly Plan cost just under $40, which is significantly cheaper than gym membership. So I would argue that its value for money is reasonable.
This plan offers over 6000 classes, including over 1,200 live classes.
There’s also Premier membership, which varies in price depending on what time block you want it to cover. (I won’t cover the prices here in case they change, but you can find out more by clicking on this link.)
The only other app subscriptions available, the FitPass Classes access, are only for the off-machine classes. I was disappointed by this because when I saw that the Fitpass cost only $12.99 a month, I thought it was a bargain, but it just doesn’t cover classes for using the rower.
The advantage of the Premier membership over the standard membership is that you can pay for one or even two years’ membership in one lump sum, and by doing this you could save quite a bit of money.
Summary Of Pros And Cons
- On-demand scenic classes emulating rowing on open water
- Challenging live classes with encouraging world-class instructors
- Wide range of music genres to accompany your work-out
- Folds away easily and compactly when not in use
- Requires a membership fee to really get the most out of the machine
My Final Verdict
Overall, I definitely like the Echelon Smart Rower, and I will continue to pay the subscription fee for the classes. It makes getting a whole body workout both easy and fun.
If you click on “Check Price” you will be taken to the product page on Amazon.com on another tab, and through it, you can buy the rower together with a Free 90-day trial of the Echelon Premier Membership with access to more than 6,000 live and on-demand fitness classes.