Everyone knew there was going to be a Peloton rower. In fact, it’s been rumored for so long that even chief product officer Tom Cortese said: The edge the rower was the ‘worst kept secret on earth’. So now that it’s actually in my living room, it all feels a bit anticlimactic.
What can I say? It’s exactly what I thought a Platoon rower would be like. Peloton’s stamp is found throughout the product design, from the red accents and ubiquitous logo to the 23-inch HD adjustable touchscreen. This is not a bad thing. Peloton’s hardware is always slick and better suited to your home than the equipment you’ll find in the gym. This rower is much nicer than the one in my building’s fitness center, although I somewhat preferred the more minimalist style of the Hydrow Wave for my living room aesthetic.
The queue is big. It has a footprint of 8 feet by 2 feet and weighs 156 pounds. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my NYC apartment, and it takes up a lot of my living room. It can be stored vertically, but you must still ensure that it can lie flat with 2 feet of free space on all sides of the unit for safety. Vertical storage also requires the use of the included wall mount. That can be a problem if you have a grumpy landlord who doesn’t want you to drill holes in your wall.
Otherwise, Peloton had some nice little design versions. For starters, the seat is sturdier than most rowers I’ve used. My tailbone is grateful. There’s also a handy water bottle and phone holder, although I wish it was big enough for a tablet. Some days I just want to eradicate my frustration with the too long storylines in my K-dramas.
The device is designed for people between 4 feet, 11 inches and 6 feet, 5 inches and up to 300 pounds. I’m a smaller person so can’t say how well the Row supports people at the top of the height range. I can imagine you’ll have some issues if you’re on the long side – perhaps stretching your legs comfortably – but unlike the Tread, which had a blade that taller people could hit their knees against when warming up from the high knees, does the Row not have so many things you can run into.
The power of Peloton is in the content, and there the Row delivers pretty much what you would expect. The best part so far has been the Form Assist feature. When you first set up the rower, there is a calibration process that takes about five minutes so that the sensors in the seat and handle can learn your individual stroke. Once that’s done, a small figure in the top left corner of the screen will correspond to your movements. If you mess up your form, the areas you need to improve will light up red.
Learning to row can be tricky, and it’s not as intuitive as running on a treadmill or pedaling on a stationary bike. Correct rowing form has four components: the catch, ride, finish and recovery. There are a countless number of YouTube videos with fitness experts expanding on this, but the gist is that you move your legs, body, then arms, then turn around. If you’re unfamiliar with rowing, it takes some getting used to, and if you’ve never received any instruction, you’re probably doing it wrong.
You are probably doing it wrong
Form feedback is still on the rise in connected fitness technology, but it’s nice to see Peloton making the effort to include it in the Row (mainly because it wasn’t much of a deal with its Guide strength-training system). After a workout, you’ll get some helpful breakdowns of your form and stats to help you understand what you need to do better. I’ve always wondered if I’m doing it right, and now, if Peloton is to be believed, I know I need to stop jumping my body on the gun during the propulsion portion of a blow.
The main training screen contains beats per minute and personal pace targets. During setup, you will be prompted to select your skill level, then it will determine which tempo ranges work best for you during intervals. These two stats are standard for rowers, but it’s always good to see a recommended range (even if you completely ignore them at the end of a long lesson).
I haven’t had a chance to try all the different types of rowing workouts yet. But the 20-minute hip-hop driving lesson I took was neither too easy nor too difficult. Class selection was understandably limited this past week, but that should resolve itself in the coming weeks as the library expands. Lessons range from five to 45 minutes. Like other Peloton gear, there’s an option between instructed rows, rowing boot camp (a mix of rowing, HIIT, and strength intervals), scenic rows, and regular rowing.
But while the hardware and content matched my expectations so far, the price didn’t. Maybe I’m a fool. I expected it to be expensive, maybe around $2,500, which isn’t far from other affiliate rowers. But no. The Row costs $3,195 — more if you buy accessories like mats, dumbbells, or a heart rate belt. (Accessory bundles start at $75 and go up to $375.) The price includes delivery and installation, but not the $44 monthly subscription. Peloton is doing market itself as a premium brand, but that is much more than the competition. For context, the Hydrow Wave costs $1,495, and the regular Hydrow costs $2,495. Other home connected rowers such as Avron and Ergatta are equally priced. Meanwhile a regular Concept2 rower costs $990.
True, the price may change. Lord knows that Peloton subscriptions and hardware costs have been everywhere for the past year as the company tries to get its act together. Still, this is one of the most expensive home rowers on the market.
Pre-orders for the Row begin today for US customers who can get past the sticker shock, with shipping expected in December. In the meantime, you can stroll to one of the 18 retail locations to get a trial version. Peloton says it will expand to more showrooms later this year.
Photography by Victoria Song / The Verge