If you’ve been a long time reader of the site you know that I dislike running. However, no gyms due to Covid-19 and a distaste for running is no excuse to ignore cardio in a workout. For this reason I decided to pick up a rower.
Rowing is a solid full body cardio workout (roughly 60% lower body, 40% upper body) that’s perfect for the indoors. Most rowers are barely 7 feet in length and they are quite narrow, so space isn’t a big issue–they take up less than most treadmills and even many exercise bikes.
Since I wasn’t confident I’d use the darn thing, I decided to purchase one of the lower cost options on the market: The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower.
I figured, the price was low enough even if I end up never using it at all–it was barely the cost of a fancy dinner for two–and I’ve been saving that money easily, given the current pandemic environment we’re living in.
I also figured that most rowers will probably feel roughly the same, and since I am no expert, what really matters is whether or not I can get a good cardio workout with the machine, not how accurately it simulates the movement of a boat in water.
So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I like the SF-RW5515 Rower!
Despite a very low price, the Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower simply gets the job done. Let’s get into it.
There was assembly required; however, the instructions were clear enough and the process was simple–they also provide all the tools you need, including a mini screw driver. A drill with an allen wrench attachment can speed things up a little, but honestly, not by that much. If anything the most frustrating part was getting everything out of the box–I ended up cutting the box completely open. It took about 20-25 minutes to fully assemble.
The seat is comfortable and moves smoothly–I’ve done workouts as long as 45 minutes consecutively, and the only discomfort was my muscles from such a long workout! Same goes for the actual rower–it’s not some weird jerky and unbalanced action.
The handles don’t callous the hands, and the resistance options are a nice added bonus–there are 8 of them and they definitely offer a nice mix of resistance levels–though I end up mostly using the higher end of the range (6,7,8) so I don’t have to row as fast for the same level of effort.
The foot pedals are comfortable, though they work best with shoes–while comfortable enough to use with just socks, the velco straps might not be able to tighten enough around your feet–though maybe if you have huge feet you may get away with just socks.
The rower has a 4ft long rail which should be sufficient for men and women of most heights–I’m not tall enough to truly put this to the test but reviews suggest that even men as tall as 6’4″ have no issues with the length of the rower.
There’s also a digital display; however, I find it rudimentary and not that easy to use–I don’t really bother with it–instead using my phone timer.
Durability and Reliability
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 definitely feels durable. It’s super sturdy when rowing–even while sprinting–and the components all feel solid.
I haven’t had it long enough to form a strong opinion on reliability–but I’ve done plenty of sprints on it so far and it hasn’t batted an eye–and many other reviewers have been happy with the reliability. However, there have been some concerns about the quality of the customer service should something go wrong.
The bottom line? This Rower gets the job done for probably one tenth the price of a state of the art Concept2. Also, rowing in general has been a super convenient workout during tough quarantine times–no worrying about running with a mask or potentially exposing others to heavy breaths–no worries about leaving the house at all, just hop on the rower.
The main knocks on the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower is the customer service and the mostly worthless digital display. In my opinion, well worth a 90% discount to the top of the line options.