Guest Post By Heather
When I underwent a mastectomy three years ago, I had no idea that I would be left with a limited range of motion in my shoulder and persistent back pain. I knew that in order to regain some semblance of normal activity, I needed a strengthening program. At the time, I hadn’t discovered the Kettler Rowing Machine but if I had, I would have saved considerable time and money.
Things to Consider When Buying a Rowing Machine
When I made the decision to buy my first rower, I really had no idea of what I needed. Although I had used rowers in the past, I never paid much attention to design and functionality. I had to learn along the way what worked best for my needs. The most significant factor I found influencing the variability in machines is the type of built-in resistance it offers.
Air powered machines use a large flywheel to provide variable resistance. The harder you pull the rowing handle, the more antagonistic force you’ll get. It’s the perfect setup for you if you’re into HITT or Cross Training because you can adjust your effort during rest intervals without interrupting your workout.
Hydraulic machines use pistons to create resistance. One of the quietest of all rowing machine types, it provides a range of lower end resistances. If the goal is to increase the maximum number of reps you can do before muscle fatigue sets in, then this is a good option. There are also machines that combine magnetic mechanisms for a wide range of setting.
Water rowers use a tank of water with paddles to create the highest exercise resistance. You will get a much more extensive workout at the cost of bigger, heavier equipment. Top end athletes often use water rowers because it mimics actual outdoor rowing on the water.
Build quality will determine how well any rower works and how long it lasts. Regardless of price, you don’t want to be replacing bungees or broken parts instead of actually working out. You can sit on a few different rowers and feel the difference between machines. Quality rowers will be heavier and have an adjustable fit.
The Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine is a home rowing machine using hydraulic rowing resistance. It has several different settings, allowing you to adjust the difficulty as needed. That being said, if you’re looking for an intense resistance machine, this may not be for you.
As one of the quietest rowers on the market, you can work out and watch TV without headphones. It comes with everything you need to assemble it, which takes about four hours.
The thing that stands out about this machine is the manufacturer. Kettler is headquartered in Germany, which is known for producing high-quality products. Some of their innovations are so beloved, new words added to the official language to describe them. Despite the low cost of their products, the company offers an impressive lifetime warranty against breakage.
- Excellent craftsmanship- This rower boasts some of the best craftsmanship available, even when compared to more expensive models.
- Long rail size- No matter how short or tall you are, you will fit comfortably on this machine.
- Lifetime frame warranty- Your investment is protected and this speaks volumes about the company’s confidence in their equipment. There isn’t another manufacturer out there that will compete with this type of warranty.
Unique piston design- The clever way Kettler manufactures this rower combines the affordability of piston hydraulics with unparalleled durability. By using industrial grade materials, this is probably the strongest piston you can buy in this class of machine.
Foot straps- The straps tend to move around or come loose during a workout. It may be helpful to add Velcro to keep your foot secure.
- Adjustability of pistons- You can adjust the resistance level of each piston. However, you can’t change how the resistance is delivered through the handles. While this isn’t a problem for me, you may notice that increasing the resistance will increase the load unevenly between the start and end of a stroke. You can also adjust each arm independently if you want to put more of a load on one side.
Low-end resistance- Since this is a hydraulic-piston rower, you will only have a lower range of resistances. It will not give you the same workout that lifting heavy weights does. If you want serious, high-end intensity, this may not be the machine for you.
Features and Benefits
The superior construction for a rower in this price range is what makes it notable. German manufacturing offers up some of the best quality globally. The powder-coated steel frame comes with the Kettler lifetime warranty, which is the best in the industry. The joints are welded using automated robotics to ensure the complete circular welds are done to exact specifications.
Far more than just a frame, attention to design is apparent even in the smallest of parts. From sealed ball bearings in the seat to industrial strength pistons, you’ll find higher end upgrades simply not present on similar machines. It’s worth mentioning that in addition to the frame warranty, there’s an additional three-year warranty on moving parts.
This rower has some simple but important ergonomic features. First, the foot holders are at an angle to mimic the way our feet would naturally sit when rowing, helping alleviate any foot fatigue. This also allows your foot to pivot correctly between strokes.
Another issue with other equipment is seat comfort. Spend any amount of time on a rower and you’ll know that you want plenty of padding. This is especially true if you’re smaller and tend to slide around on the seat during a workout. The Kettler rowing machine has a good amount of padding across a broad seat base, making it as comfortable as possible during a workout.
When rowing properly, the ability to extend your legs is critical. In fact, your legs initiate the power behind each stroke, then your back and finally your arms. If you’re relatively tall, you may have noticed some rowers have a very short rail that impedes the ability to do this. This can limit your range of motion and cause you to use your back muscles incorrectly through the entire stroke. The slightly longer than standard rail makes it easy for taller people to fully extend and execute each rowing stroke correctly.
The rowing arms themselves are somewhat offset from each other. It’s easy to mistake this as a build defect, but it actually serves to encourage proper form while rowing. If you’re not familiar with rowing techniques, it’s worth reading up on sculling. This machine is designed to be used with this technique and you’ll want to learn it.
When it comes to display screens, I find that many machines have a lot more bells and whistles than what I use. This one comes with an LCD display that shows pulse rate, time, distance, frequency and energy consumed. There’s also a clip-on earlobe heart rate monitor included. It’s not wireless, so you’ll want to upgrade if you hate cables. As far as accuracy goes, as long as you’re consistent as to which monitor you use, you should be fine.
The simplicity of the display shows you relevant information without cluttering the screen with data. With no pre-set workout routines, you’ll want to pay attention to your target cardio output range. If you’re new to rowing, researching routines beforehand is useful. The programmable goal feature will keep up with your fitness level. There doesn’t appear to be a built-in light, but it doesn’t hinder the legibility of the screen in normal room lighting.
One of the things I really liked about this rower is its ability to fold down into a very compact frame. I live in a townhouse, so space comes at a premium.
Folded up, this unit measures around 59x20x18 making it ideal for sliding out of the way when not in use.
When it comes to evaluating the aesthetics, I’d say this rower is about average. The carbon steel frame is powder coated. It’s modern, unobtrusive and will blend with all but the most traditional décor.
Despite being compact, it still offers the heavy, slick-gliding feel of quality rowers you’ll find at higher end gyms. Its sturdy frame can be set on virtually any level surface, although I do recommend a mat underneath for protecting the carpet. Weighing less than 60 pounds, it’s significantly lighter than competing models but I’d still take precautions.
Other than the faint sound of the hydraulic pistons, this machine is incredibly quiet. The distinct lack of noise is another hallmark of German quality. Once you have mastered technique and form to the extent you no longer need to concentrate on it, you can easily watch TV or listen to your favorite music while rowing. It won’t bother neighbors on the other side of the wall or anybody trying to nap in the same house.
What people are saying
Across the internet, people agree that this rower is manufactured to a higher standard than many others are. Quality engineering and an attractive price point are among some of the great things people have to say about this equipment.
Other Rowers to Consider
The Stamina X Air Rower is a powerful, high-intensity machine capable of delivering decent workouts for beginner rowers. It’s an air resistance machine, designed to increase output in correlation to how much effort you put in. It features a durable chain driven handle, ergonomic foot pedals, and is also foldable for storage. It doesn’t offer any leg resistance, but for the price it’s a nice piece of equipment for upper body workouts. Although it lacks the quality assurance of the Kettler rower, it is constructed on a steel frame.
- Air resistance
- No leg resistance
- Comes in a sporty red and black color
This is a great low-cost rower if you don’t need a lot of features and you’re budget conscious. You’ll get a basic upper body and cardio workout of varying intensity, without the bells and whistles that drive up the price. If you’re just breaking into home rowing equipment, I’d recommend you give the X Air a look.
The Perform 440R is a hybrid rower that gives you the ability to combine longitudinal rowing and vertical strength training. As a rower, you’ll find it has a lot of nice features, such as a longer seat rail, padded handle, and ergonomic foot pedals. The resistance is created using magnetic braking, which provides eight levels of intensity. You won’t get as strenuous of a workout as you do with an air rower, but the real magic with this machine is its ability to convert vertically. In the upright position, you can get an effective arm workout, targeting the biceps or triceps separately with the low pulley. It’s very quiet and one of the least expensive rowers on my list.
- Converts to a vertical strength training station
- Magnetic braking resistance
- Less overall resistance in the rowing position
The Perform 440R is worth looking at if you want to do more than just row. Its ability to convert upright for arm strength training lets it essentially do two separate jobs with one piece of equipment.
The Model D is a sleek, low profile rower with plenty of power. It comes with a five-year frame warranty and a choice between black and grey. Also an air resistance rower, the main difference between it and the other models is its sturdier construction and more powerful monitor capabilities. Some of the extra frills include pre-set workouts, wireless connectivity and measurements in meters. You can also see watts, calories burned and other performance data. You’ll find it’s one of the heftiest weight ratings of all the rowers on my list, supporting up to 500 pounds. You can expect to pay double the price for these upgrades.
- Air resistance
- Upgraded monitor features
- Higher weight capacity
- More expensive
If you want a serious rower that’s capable of intense, high resistance workouts and the ability to get detailed information from the monitor, then this might be the rower for you. It consistently earns high ratings in customer satisfaction, even among veteran users.
Whether you’re like me, trying to regain strength after surgery, or simply looking to shred calories at home, your rower should offer you a balance between cardio and strength training. You also want it to work when it should and last a number of years. The Kettler Rowing Machine has a reputation among users as being a top-notch machine designed with comfort and value. It’s solid, reliable and at a reasonable price point. You can see this rower by following the link here.