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We’ve always been huge fans of rowing machines. They are one of the few exercise machines capable of targeting several key areas of the body. You can tighten your glutes and abdomen at the same time while burning fat and building muscle mass. They are incredibly well-rounded machines that can benefit any home gym. If you’re trying to find that next great addition to your gym, then a high-quality rowing machine is always a great option.
Not all rowing machines are created equal. The major brands on the market today remain competitive by adding new and advanced features. Some of them emphasize on “connected workouts” with the ability to communicate with other exercise equipment. Others focus more heavily on designing compact, lightweight machines that can be easily stored away when not in use. The best machines combine several of these features into a single powerful device.
When it comes to the best on the market today, we believe Hydrow and Ergatta are at the top. These are two major brands that take a slightly different approach with their workout options.
We’ve compiled a comparative buyer’s guide below to help you decide which of these rowers is right for you.
Biggest Differences Between Hydrow and Ergatta
1. The Hydrow Experience
At first glance, it’s clear that the Hydrow is designed to be a sleek, modern rowing machine. It features a black and metallic design with a 22-inch touch screen at the front. After assembly, you can connect the machine to a Wi-Fi connection or straight to the internet via an Ethernet cord. The rowing machine takes a few moments to download the operating system and you then create a personal account. This is the account you’ll use to access leaderboards, online communities, and other Hydrow social functions.
The Hydrow is a slightly larger machine with a length of 85 inches, a height of 47 inches, and a width of 25 inches. Despite the larger frame, it has a somewhat lower weight capacity at only 375 pounds.
The Hydrow is manufactured with a single piece of aluminum for the frame. This prevents you from being able to fold the machine when you’re done. However, you can purchase an additional kit from Hydrow that allows you to rotate the machine and store it vertically. This is a great option if you don’t want it to take up a large, permanent space in the home gym.
The two machines also differ in how they create resistance for the rower. There’s also a difference in how these two machines produce their resistance. With its advanced, sophisticated approach, the Hydrow relies entirely on electromagnetic resistance. However, you don’t manually select your desired resistance level. You instead choose a drag level between 1 and 300. A lower drag level will emulate the feel of rowing a multi-person boat while a higher drag level will emulate a single-person boat. The amount of resistance provided is determined by how hard you row.
Electromagnetic resistance does have some clear benefits compared to more traditional options. Most notably, it’s more smooth and quiet compared to alternatives like the Ergatta. There’s also no need to worry about adding or removing water to adjust the levels. Even with these differences, the computer-controlled resistance system is able to accurately duplicate the feel of rowing in water.
2. The Ergatta Experience
Ergatta is definitely a more traditional rowing machine. Both, in terms of its sleek and refined appearance as well as its functionality. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any advanced features. Just that it embraces a more classical design scheme, which we’re huge fans of. For example, it’s made primarily of cherry wood. Cherry wood is a very aesthetically pleasing hardwood that is surprisingly durable. If it weren’t for the 17.3-inch touchscreen at the front, this model would look a lot like rowing machines from several decades ago.
The footprint for the Ergatta is comparable to the Hydrow at around 86 inches in length and 23 inches in width. It is; however, significantly lighter than the Hydrow despite its hardwood frame. The Hydrow weighs around 145 pounds while the Ergatta weighs closer to 76 pounds.
The Ergatta can also be stored vertically but without the need to purchase an additional kit. You can simply fold the arms down and lift the frame vertically. In this position, it has a new footprint around 22 inches by 23 inches.
It has some of the same connectivity features as the Hydrow. That includes Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. The Ergatta is also Bluetooth-enabled. You can use this to connect to headphones or other biometric monitors.
As for resistance, the Ergatta relies on all-natural water resistance. There’s a large tank near the front of the base with several marking lines along the edge. The level of resistance varies according to how hard you row the machine and the amount of water that is in the tank. There are a total of seven different water levels available. Adding more water makes it feel like you’re rowing a bigger boat. It comes with a siphon you can use to remove the water when you want to lower resistance levels.
The water resistance adds an authentic feel to the machine that other devices like the Hydrow attempt to replicate with their forms of resistance. However, it does produce slightly more noise than other machines. It can also be a bit tedious to add or remove water from the tank.
Workout Head-to-Head: Instructor Led vs a Gamified Expereince
1. Hydrow’s Instructor Led Rowing Classes
If you’re familiar with other smart connected machines like Peleton or Echelon, then you’ll feel right at home with what Hydrow has to offer. Their workout selection includes a large catalog of pre-recorded workouts, tutorial videos, and training programs. They also offer two live rows every day during most of the week. You’ll have to work your schedule around these live sessions or rely instead on the pre-recorded sessions.
The library of pre-recorded workout sessions is pretty impressive. There are several options for sorting through the available videos. You can choose a specific workout category based on the trainer, the workout type, the duration, the location, and the objective. Some of them are designed as rowing journeys through specific locations, others are intense workout sessions, and others are more focused on teaching you the basics.
RELATED READING: Hydrow Review
The scenic workout category doesn’t include any instructor. Instead, it moves the camera along with you down a particular waterway. They’ve taken the time to record at several waterways throughout the country. Their library of scenic trips and pre-recorded sessions is increasing all of the time.
There’s also a certain social element to the workout experience. If you choose, you can post your data to public communities and compare yourself to other athletes around the world. You can even interact with other rowers by commenting on their posts or giving them a “like” similar to Facebook.
Hydrow also includes a “challenge” section. Here, you can choose to race against other rowers or try to complete waterways within a specific time limit. It’s a fun way to stay motivated if you are the competitive type.
Finally, Hydrow makes a donation to Water.org for every 60 days that you are active on their machines. The Water.org company helps provide people around the world with access to safe, clean drinking water.
2. Ergatta’s Gaming-Inspired Platform
The Ergatta is undoubtedly a great rowing machine, but it is their unique workout experience that attracts so many new rowers. They have approached the workout concept much like a video game. If you’re an avid gamer and you’re looking for a way to get involved with home fitness, then the Ergatta is a great bridge between the two.
Ergatta starts off every user with a simple 2000-meter race used for calibration. After this race, the program will assign you various intensity zones. Your ability is recalibrated after every ten races. This allows you to view your progress as your fitness improves and you become a more capable rower.
RELATED READING: Ergatta Review
There are no live videos or instructor-led programs. Instead, there are four different workout types that you can complete on your own or compete against other rowers. While rowing, you’ll be led along a variety of incredibly scenic routes. You’ll often experience several different levels of intensity during the race. The intensity of any particular course varies according to your assigned intensity zones.
After the race, you’ll receive feedback regarding several different fitness metrics. It’s very rewarding to watch these stats increase as you continually work out and improve your form.
Pricing Compare: What You Get with Your Purchase
1. Hydrow Pricing
The Hydrow requires a one-time payment for the machine and then a monthly subscription for the workout program. The price for the machine starts at $2,245 but can increase if you purchase additional features like the kit needed to fold the Hydrow vertically. The cost of the subscription workout services is $38 per month.
2. Ergatta Pricing
The Ergatta also has a one-time payment for the rowing machine and a monthly subscription cost for the streaming service. The machine itself is slightly cheaper than the Hydrow with a starting price of around $2,199. The subscription service is also slightly cheaper at $29 a month. That means you’ll save close to $100 a year using the Ergatta.
You Should Consider Hydrow if…
- You want a workout experience similar to Peloton
- You want to experience live, instructor-led courses almost daily
- You want to access a large library of pre-recorded workouts and training programs
- You want to experience scenic rows through several famous waterways without an instructor
- You want to use a brand that regularly donates to charitable causes
You Should Consider Ergatta if…
- You’re a gamer who wants to start rowing at home
- You like the competitive aspect of rowing
- You prefer traditional water-based resistance
- You enjoy the classic cherry wood frame and elegant design of the Ergatta
- You want a slightly more affordable rowing experience