Compare Indoor Rowers

How to choose an indoor rowing machine and why Fluid Innovation matters.

It can be difficult to compare types of indoor rowers on the market when you don’t know what the features and benefits are. Each indoor rowing brand and technology used varies considerably in terms of quality, level of resistance, stroke profile and closeness to real on-water rowing simulation.

Common types of indoor rowing innovation include air, electromagnetic or water resistance technology. Your exercise goals, budget and the level of importance you place on performance, will impact your selection preference and enjoyment level.

In the following table, we compare First Degree Fitness’ Fluid Innovation to the other two most commonly purchased indoor rowing resistance options with respect to the system design and innovation used to simulate the experience of real on-water rowing.


FeatureFDF Fluid RowerOther Water RowersAir Rowers
System DesignPatented twin tank with triple bladed stainless steel impeller to create variable water resistance rowing.Single tank with two blade plastic impeller.Chain driven internal flywheel fan with airflow interaction.

Tank Performance

Internal baffles maintain resistance while providing a realistic on water rowing feel and sound.Smooth walled internal tank allows water to accelerate as it free flows without respect to length and rate of stroke.Air rushes noisily through the fan blades as the metal chain is driven with each stroke.
Tank EngineeringTwo-part tank joined by durable tank seal and screw fixings.Two-part tank glued together.There are many inexpensive imitations. As dust gets sucked into the machine’s vents, the performance characteristics change.
ResistanceLevel can be changed at the turn of a dial for multi-user interval training.Water must be manually added or removed to change level.Very little ability to change resistance ±10% at any given stroke rate.
Stroke ProfileConstant catch on initial pull with tank baffles holding the resistance during second half of the stroke to produce a more realistic on-water rowing feel throughout entirety of action.Resistance typically peaks at around 35% of the stroke pull and falls away as water freely accelerates within the tank. Resistance does not increase proportionately with speed of the pull-through.Resistance lag at beginning of stroke followed by a rapid increase to peak resistance, which then rapidly falls away before the end of stroke. Not conducive to good stroke technique.
Force CurveAs stroke profile is more robust, more work can be comfortably achieved per stroke. Alternatively, resistance can be reduced or increased at a turn of the resistance dial.Limited ability to increase power by “pulling harder and faster” but effectively restricted as water free-flows in tank reducing actual workout intensity from perceived effort.Inconsistent stroke pull can create a high perception of ‘work’, but less effective stroke power output.
Performance MonitorComputer can be set to allow for different water levels and resulting resistance changes to calculate new outputs.Computer does not adjust to different water level so workout becomes unmeasurable other than at one set water level.Extensive computer, but display seems to ignore registering considerable resistance lag at beginning of every stroke pull.

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