Fitness Technology

I Tried the Aviron Rowing Machine for 4 Months, and I Was Blown Away by the Quality and Variety of Workouts

Photo: W+G Editorial
A few years ago, it was pretty rare to hear someone talking about buying a rowing machine for their home. Treadmills, exercise bikes, and elliptical trainers dominated the market for personal cardio equipment.

But between Orangetheory and CrossFit, rowing has skyrocketed in popularity, spurring a boom of engaging at-home rowing machines that let you get a total-body workout without having to worry about the logistics of actually getting out on the water.

Out of the many rowing machines on the market these days, the Aviron rower seemingly shatters the competition, or so I’d heard. After seeing countless ads and hearing favorable reviews, I decided to put it to the test myself, seeing how it performs and whether it brings anything new to the table over the Hydrow and Ergatta rowers, which I'd tried in the past.

After working out on it for about four months, I can confirm: It’s a fantastic machine that’s well worth the money.

What is the Aviron rowing machine?

Featuring an integrated touchscreen with a membership subscription model, the Aviron offers a wide variety of streamable content, including virtual rowing destinations, fully animated video games, and access to popular streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+.

There are two models: the Impact Series and the Tough Series. The primary difference is that the Tough series can withstand more weight (507 pounds vs. 397 pounds), and the Impact series is designed to be lightweight and more portable, with a design that folds down and stands upright. The one I tested is the Aviron Impact.

Aviron Impact Series Rower — $1,999.00

The content on this rower gets constant updates so you never get bored.

My Aviron rowing machine review: The best features

There are quite a few bells and whistles on this machine. These some of my favorites:

22-inch touchscreen

The HD touchscreen is a generous 22 inches and displays crystal-clear graphics. The speakers are also great, which helps immerse you in the experience whether you’re playing a game or watching Netflix.

Foldable, lightweight design

At just under 100 pounds, the Impact isn’t truly something I’d call "lightweight" (I’m super tiny so it’s definitely big to me), but in terms of home rowing machines, it’s the most portable, maneuverable, and storable option I've found.

It stands upright when not in use, and unlike others, the rail actually collapses down so the rower essentially folds in half. This saves a lot of space, and it’s great for anyone with low ceilings.

Versatile workouts

I have to admit that I get bored pretty easily—and I’m also super competitive with myself. This ends up leading to a lack of motivation to work out; I not only feel unengaged if I don’t get enough variety, but I get anxious before a workout that I won’t perform as well or “beat my time” if I always do the same thing over and over.

So I’ve always gravitated toward running outdoors where the changing scenery prevents boredom and I don’t have to worry about every single split. For at-home equipment, the Aviron rowing machine does about as good of a job of providing variety as I could imagine from a piece of stationary equipment.

Unlike the Hydrow and Ergatta rowers, where you really only have one type of streamable workout style, with Aviron you can choose between eight workout formats, and do something different every day of the week:

  1. Games: In these fully animated video games, you try to escape zombies or outrun hungry monsters by rowing faster. I really liked this mode for when I needed extra motivation to hit hard intervals and wanted some fun distraction from the discomfort.
  2. Streaming videos: The Aviron has built-in apps for popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, and Hulu. You can watch whatever shows or movies you want while the rowing machine keeps track of your stats in the background. I found it’s great for long endurance rowing workouts where I just want to row at a consistent effort for a long time.
  3. Coached programs: Rowing coach Austin Hendrickson leads workouts for beginners to experts. This is an especially smart way to start because you can learn some of the foundations of proper technique.
  4. Power play: This mode basically combines the video games with guided rowing programs. You get to earn points in a race, and it’s extremely engaging without being overwhelming.
  5. Virtual rowing: In this mode, you can watch real footage from waterways around the world to transport yourself to somewhere more exotic than your living room.
  6. Competition: You can test yourself against other Aviron users, a major bonus for rowers who like to race (myself included).
  7. Guided programs: These total-body workouts led by expert trainers take you on and off the rowing machine.
  8. Pros vs. Joes: Admittedly, I only attempted this mode a few times, but it’s a really cool feature for advanced rowers—you get to compete against professional and elite rowers and see how you stack up.

Great resistance

The Aviron rowing machine has dual air and magnetic resistance. The air resistance is not only extremely smooth, but is also designed to mimic the feeling of rowing on real water. The magnetic resistance essentially lets you magnify the amount of resistance the rowing machine offers, allowing for strength training workouts in addition to the standard cardio workout you would get from regular rowing.

Super quiet belt

I have a really weird schedule that has me up most of the night and sleeping for a large part of the day, so I am usually working out at odd hours when other people in my home are trying to sleep. For that reason, I absolutely love how quiet the Aviron rower is. It has a RAW whisper nylon belt that operates at about 60 decibels, so it can’t be heard through a bedroom door.

Higher seat height

At 20”, the Aviron rower also sits higher off the ground than other rowers. That makes it really easy to get on and off, even if you are stiff or have bad joints.

Durability

The Aviron Impact machine might be the smaller sister of the Aviron Tough rower, but it’s far from flimsy. Made from steel and aluminum, the frame feels super sturdy and solid while you row—it does not rock or bend in any way. And after heavy daily use for four months, I haven’t noticed any discernible wear and tear.

Is the Aviron a good value?

At about $2,000 and with an ongoing monthly membership fee of $29, the Aviron rower isn’t cheap (although the price is on par with competitors). But honestly, I was blown away by the quality of the design and construction, the seamless performance of the machine itself, and the variety and function of the workouts on the touchscreen.

If you’re interested in getting one, beware that there is some assembly required, though I found it pretty easy to do. You will also need a solid internet connection for the games and streaming.

The Aviron rower is definitely an investment, but at this point, it gets my vote for best in class.

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