When you’re low on space, a little more thought has to go into your buying decisions. For city dwellers and renters, the space problem is all too common. However, a lack of space doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your home workouts. The key is to choose the right compact exercise equipment. And one of the best cardio workouts is rowing. Since you probably already know this, this article will introduce you to the best rowing machine for a small apartment.
You’ll find that the models in this guide manage to pack a punch into a small package. Whether you’re looking for a piece of workout equipment for casual workouts or to push yourself hard daily, I’ve got you covered. The compact rowers in this guide match all experience levels and needs.
When choosing a rowing machine for an apartment, it’s important to consider the specs listed in the table below. Additionally, you’ll want to consider whether a folding model better suits your needs.
Top 5 Compact Rowers for Apartments
How to Choose a Compact Rower for Your Apartment
Below, I summarize the key points to consider when choosing a compact rower:
- Footprint – The footprint of the rower is one of the most important factors since that’s the space you’ll need to house it. Since the length of the rower is the longest dimension, you’ll want to make sure you have an adequate place for it. The rowers in this guide have some of the shortest rails, making them great choices for small apartments.
- Folding – A folding rowing machine allows you to fold the machine when not in use. If you plan to store it in a closet or in a corner to open up space between your workout sessions, this is an important feature to look for. Also, there are models that allow you to store them vertically to conserve floor space when not in use. For this reason, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re ceiling is high enough if you choose that route.
- Rower Type – The most common types of rowers are magnetic, water, and hydraulic. In most cases, a magnetic or water rower will give you the most challenging workout. On the other hand, a hydraulic rower is the smallest and a good choice for beginners who prefer light workouts.
- Resistance – Rowers with more levels of resistance allow you to work your way up the ladder. As you become stronger, you’ll be able to up the resistance level. Always check the number of resistance levels to ensure you’ll be able to push yourself to your desired level.
- Warranty – Since a rower isn’t a small investment, it’s wise to stick with trustworthy companies that offer reliable warranty services. This way, if you run into any problems along the way, you’ll know that the company won’t suddenly disappear when you need them.
Overall, those are the most important points to consider.
Reviews: Best Rowing Machine for Small Apartment
Below, I share detailed reviews of each rower from the table above.
#1) Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Synergy Power Motion Rower
When choosing home gym or office workout equipment, Sunny Health & Fitness is always one of the first places I look. The company knows how to make great workout equipment more affordable for the average user. Ultimately, you’ll find that most Sunny Health & Fitness equipment cuts out some of the bells & whistles to lower the cost without sacrificing functionality.
Because of this, the SF-RW5801 Synergy Power Motion Rower is an excellent choice for small apartments. Firstly, the machine is compact, yet not too short to accommodate users over 6′. Secondly, the folding design allows you to significantly reduce the footprint. Currently, the latest model sports a folded footprint of 36.3″ x 23″ x 47″ (LxWxH). That’s one of the smallest you’ll find in this class.
As for functionality, the 16 resistance levels ensure you’ll be able to challenge yourself along your fitness journey, and the wide padded seat ensures a comfortable ride. Lastly, this compact rower has one of the highest weight capacities of 285 lbs along with floor stabilizers to keep the machine level on uneven floors.
- 16 resistance levels
- Folding design takes up less floor space when not in use
- High 285 lb weight capacity
- Large padded seat
- Large pivoting foot pedals
- Quiet operation won’t disturb your neighbors
- Fitness stat tracking could be more accurate, e.g. calories burned
- The wheels don’t roll well on thick carpet
- Using the latch pin when folding may feel awkward at first
#2) Xterra Fitness ERG160 Magnetic Rower
Now if the 77″ length was too much for your apartment, Xterra’s ERG160 could be the better choice at 61.4″. And this machine manages to significantly shorten the overall length without sacrificing functionality. Additionally, this model does stand straight up for easy storage.
Next, this machine offers eight levels of resistance to challenge both beginners and intermediate rowers. Currently, Xterra recommends a user height range of 5’1” to 6’2”, which is good news for taller renters up to 6’2″. Regarding performance, the magnetic flywheel and aluminum rail ensure a smooth and quiet rowing experience. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about bothering your neighbors.
Finally, you might like the adjustable foot straps along with the LED more on this model than what the Sunny Fitness model above offers. All in all, the ERG160 brings everything to the table that you’d expect from a compact rower.
- One of the smallest footprints
- Stands up when not in use
- Suitable for users up to 6’2″
- Sturdy build
- Easy to set up
- Smooth and quiet operation
- Advanced rowers may desire more resistance
- Renters above 6’2″ will want to look elsewhere
#3) Fitness Reality 3000WR Bluetooth Water Rowing Machine
If you arrived here on the hunt for a compact water rowing machine, this is the one. Firstly, of the models in this guide, the 3000WR has the highest weight capacity of 300 lbs, making it one of the sturdiest compact rowers on the market. Secondly, if you’re a more advanced rower, then the 3000WR is a better choice than the two models above. The water tank provides a more natural rowing motion, and the resistance will not disappoint.
Next, if you’re someone who enjoys trainer-led workouts, this machine is compatible with the MyCloudFitness app. For this reason, fans of HIIT will find more value here than someone who casually works out from time to time. Plus, there’s the option to use preset programs offered by the console if you want to skip over the MyCloudFitness app.
Finally, what makes the 3000WR great for small apartments is the ability to stand it up for easy storage. Since most of the weight is at the front of the machine, it’s easy to lift it up to store vertically. Overall, the 3000WR is a good choice for rowers of all skill levels.
- Stands up vertically for easy storage
- More challenging than compact magnetic rowers
- Preset HIIT programs and more
- Integrates with the MyCloudFitness app
- High 300 lb weight capacity
- Sturdy footrests
- The foot straps may rub
- Distance tracking could be more accurate
- Choosing a preset program may feel time-consuming
#4) Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1052 Rowing Machine
Next up is the first of two hydraulic rowers included in this guide. As mentioned earlier, hydraulic rowers are a good choice for beginners and people who are really tight on space. Comparatively, this machine is over a foot shorter than the Fitness Reality water rower above. Plus, the fact that the BodyTrac Glider 1052 weighs just 39 lbs means that most people won’t have much trouble moving it.
After those considerations, it’s important to know that this type of rower functions differently than the models above. Firstly, this machine features foldable arms that mimic a natural rowing motion. Thus, it’s easier for beginners to engage more muscle groups since there’s less of a need to focus on form. Also, making resistance adjustments is as easy as turning the knob located beneath the machine.
When not in use, the machine folds up vertically and is flatter than the models above. As a result, renters with small apartments who want to store their rowers in a closet will find more value here.
- Very compact when folded
- The foldable arms make it easier for beginners to use proper form
- Small footprint
- Large user height range
- One-touch LCD monitor with fitness stat tracking
- The hydraulic mechanism maintains resistance well
- You may find the range of motion somewhat limited
- No Bluetooth connectivity with fitness apps
- The foot straps could be more secure
#5) Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine
Last up is the most affordable rowing machine for small apartments in this guide. Hence, it also happens to be the most compact. With that in mind, this model is a good choice for renters who are both on a budget and very low on space. At first glance, it’s easy to see that this rower is basic, weighing in at just 20.9 lbs, yet it does support users up to 220 lbs.
Similar to the Stamina model above, the SF-RW1205 features hydraulic resistance with 12 levels to choose from. Next, at just 54″ long, this is the shortest rower featured in this guide. Most renters will find that there’s enough space somewhere in their apartments to squeeze in this micro rower.
After those considerations, one of the greatest advantages of this model is that it’s one of the quietest rowing machines you’ll find. The way it operates leaves very few moving parts to worry about. The motion allows you to get your arms more involved while you press with your feet without having to overly focus on your form.
All things considered, this is a great basic rower for renters who desire a casual workout experience to burn some extra calories.
- The lightest model in this guide
- The smallest footprint of the models in this guide
- Adequate resistance levels for beginners and intermediate rowers
- The most affordable model in this article at the time of this writing
- Comfy wide cushioned seat
- User-friendly control panel
- Not the best choice for tall people
- You may desire larger pedals
- The range of motion is limited compared to full-size rowers
When choosing the best rowing machine for a small apartment, measure twice and buy once. The last thing you want to do is purchase a machine without comparing its dimensions against your available space. Also, you’ll want to go a step further by measuring the space you plan to store it.
Since most compact rowers stand vertically or fold, always check the folded dimensions to compare them to your planned storage space. By taking these few steps, you’ll know for sure what you’re getting into before you buy.
Beyond size, also consider your skill level. As mentioned a couple of times earlier, a hydraulic rower is better for beginners, while magnetic and water models are best for all skill levels. In the end, matching a rower to your needs and space before you buy it will leave you with a smile on your face by the time it arrives.