WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine – Walnut Wood Review

Product Description

A classic design for a modern rowing machine. This WaterRower Classic is made from Walnut Wood, comes with a built in heart rate monitor in the form of a chest strap, and an LCD S4 monitor. The included PC cable mean you can download your workout info to your computer and your favourite workout software.

Our Review

This is the first time I’ve used a ‘classic’ rowing machine, so, in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect when I tried this machine from WaterRower for the first time. But I was very, very pleasantly surprised. This rowing machine offers one of the smoothest rowing strokes I’ve felt, provided by the unique ‘self-regulating’ water resistance, and its design makes it something you want to show off, rather than tuck out of the way when it’s not in use.


WaterRower pride themselves on their hand crafted units, and rightly so. They offer a unique experience in a world of mass produced, metal and plastic rowing machines.

The Classic is part of WaterRower’s ‘Designer’ series. It’s a gorgeous thing, crafted out of solid American walnut wood, and hand finished with three coats of Danish Oil. As these are made of natural woods, your rowing machine may vary in colour slightly, from a rich brown to a more blacky-purple colour, making it even more unique. The wood is clearly fantastic quality and is highly durable, and this will become a showcase piece in your house.


In an interesting concept, the resistance this machine is ‘self-regulating’. What that means is you can’t set the resistance manually – it varies depending on the speed you operate the machine. It uses a ‘Rule of Cubes’, which essentially means that doubling your speed will require an eight-fold increase in power. The manufacturer claims this is much safer than a normal air resistance machine, as it means users can’t set the resistance higher than they can manage. As a result, this makes the machine suitable for anyone regardless of their age, size or fitness level.

Rather than a fan or magnetic resistance, the resistance on the WaterRower Classic rowing machine is provided by a water tank with a rotating paddle, mimicking the action of rowing on a river. It offers the closest thing you’ll get to the real feel of rowing on water, and does give a very smooth stroke. The whoosh of the water with every stroke is slightly odd for someone who’s used to the sound of mechanical rowers, but it’s very quiet and blends in in no time.

Performance monitor

The rower comes with an S4 performance monitor, which gives you all of the usual statistics such as stroke rate / intensity (in meters per second), time per 500 meters and per 2km, your total number of strokes, duration, distance, and, if you’ve purchased a separate heart rate monitor, your heart rate as well.

You can connect the machine to a heart rate monitor via a chest strap, and it’s also Polar compatible, and can be linked up to a T31 transmitter, to accurately transmit your heart rate to the unit. One thing that lets it down is the fact that it only has two workout programmes – distance and time – and serious rowers may want more granularity over their workouts.

One big plus though is the fact it stores your workouts automatically, and you can also choose to store them manually in 9 different storage locations. As it comes with a PC cable, you can then download your stored workouts to your computer and input them into your favourite workout tracker. The manufacturer lists 4 commercial products that are compatible with the WaterRower:

  • We- Row, WaterRower’s Online Rowing Community
  • NetAthlon, a VR training and racing system
  • UltraCoach, an industry leading training software
  • RowYo, Cadence Training Software

However, with a little bit of manual work you could input your workout into other web-based software such as Endmondo.


The WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine in Walnut has a comfortable seat, and the rollers feels very smooth during the rowing motion. As with many rowers, this one can be stood upright for storage, so if you’re tight on space then you’ll have no problem finding room for the WaterRower.

This rower doesn’t need an external power source either, so you can simply fold it back out and start using it. However, as the WaterRower Classic Rower is so beautifully crafted, and has such an attractive walnut wood finish, you won’t want to fold it away, and it’ll soon become a talking point for your guests.

It was my first time using a water rower, and it feels wonderful – it feels very smooth, and there’s no need to worry about cogs or chains wearing out or getting less smooth over time. As long as you change the water once a year, there’s no need to worry about maintaining this thing.

It’s very high quality, so will last you a long time and is designed to be worked hard. I’d highly recommend the WaterRower for users at all levels, who want something a little bit different, or don’t want an ugly rowing machine taking up space.

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