The Evolution of Indoor Rowing

From Wooden Frames To Hydraulic Resistance, To The Flywheel And Now The Fluid Indoor Rowing Machine.

If you’ve ever wondered where the original idea for indoor rowing came from, it’s not hard to imagine that the first rowers were nowhere near as efficient as the machines of today. There are reports rowing machines were invented as early as 4th Century BC Greece, where wooden frames were used in military training, so inexperienced oarsmen could perfect their technique. However, the first patented indoor rower wasn’t created until 1872, when W.B. Curtis invented a machine to help water athletes stay fit on land.

The most important thing about this design was the invention of the flywheel, which is still used to store rotational energy in air rowers today. While this machine lacked the feel of on-water rowing and the technology to measure the user’s performance, Curtis had many admirers and imitators who took it upon themselves to improve the machine.

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The Hydraulic Indoor Rower

Indoor rowing in the early 1900s saw gas used to create resistance and motion. The Narragansett hydraulic rower was the most popular rower of the time and was sold to gyms, universities and occasionally homes between 1900-1960.  Created in Rhode Island, this machine was slightly more sophisticated than Curtis’, however it still lacked the feel of on water rowing and the ability to measure the user’s power output.

The Air Indoor Rower

In the 1950s, mechanical brake machines were invented, however indoor rowers became very unpopular as users found them uncomfortable. The iron wheel was created as part of this design and widely hated because it was difficult to handle, so the air rower made a comeback in the 1980s. While the air resistance and flywheel design has been retained, the hydraulic, magnetic, and water resistance designs have been invented in the past 30 years.

The Fluid Indoor Rower

Fluid rowers use water resistance to replicate the sight, sound and feel of propelling a boat through water. Compared to other resistance forces, the dynamics of FDF’s patented fluid technology creates a consistent resistance load from the catch throughout the entirety of the stroke. This optimises the stroke power and exercise benefit. Other lesser quality water rowers allow the water to accelerate in the tank with each stroke, resulting in a resistance peak in the middle of the stroke, with no respect to the length or rate of stroke.

FDF water resistance rowing machines offer between 5 and 20 levels of Fluid Force accessible at the turn of a lever, which makes these rowers unrivalled in terms of design and construction. Learn more about why Fluid Rowers are better.

Don’t believe us? Try one yourself!