Nowadays, who isn’t on a budget? If you’re watching your dollars closely, you may worry that you can’t invest in your health at all. While gym memberships and personal trainers can quickly add up, the cost of setting up your home gym can seem even more restrictive.
However, there’s an easy way to get the benefits of nearly all the equipment at your local gym in your own home—and at a cost that won’t hurt your wallet. A rowing machine provides a complete, full body workout that works both for your strength training goals as well as your cardio goals, so you don’t have to buy a ton of different pieces of equipment to try and take care of your entire body.
Before you invest in a home rowing machine, here are a few bits of info you’ll want to be aware of:
1. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to invest in yourself. It can be easy to convince yourself that spending money on fitness is frivolous (I’ve had this issue myself very often). But your health is one of the most important things you could ever spend your money on, so treat it like the priority it is.
2. Buying a rowing machine may seem more financially tricky than paying a relatively low monthly gym membership. However, many of the best budget rowing machine options may last you for years and may pay for themselves within just a few months.
3. It’s important to get a checkup from your doctor before you begin any new exercise routine, especially if it’s been a little while since you’ve worked out. Plus, your doctor can help you tailor your workout program to your specific health and fitness goals.
4. Keep an eye on shipping costs as well as the base price of whatever rowing machines you’re considering. It may turn out that a higher-priced rowing machine is a better value if it offers less inexpensive or free shipping.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten rowing machines that are your best choices for when you’re equipping your home gym on a budget. Check out our selections and then get rowing!
Best Budget Rowing Machine
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
One of the major appeals of rowing as an exercise is the seamless, fluid motion of rowing. It’s not only great for your body, but it can also be a tranquil, calming, and pleasant experience as well (which can be very difficult to find, especially in a cardio workout).
While you may expect to have to give up on this sort of experience when you’re shopping on a budget, the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is eager to prove otherwise. In fact, it offers the same full range of motion that you get when you row on the water, which is relatively unique amongst rowing machines—and especially among those offered at such a low price.
Its hydraulic cylinder also helps keep all your movements on the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 smooth, so that you stay focused on your workout and let your body move in the way you want it to (without finding yourself having to readjust your position or stuttering out of the rowing position). It also offers comfortable seating and folds up for secure storage, making it a potentially high pick for even a picker rower.
Pros and Cons
- Textured footplates
- Mimics the feel of actually rowing
- Multi-function monitor
- May slip out of foot rests
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
Nothing can break the rhythm of your workout routine like having your feet slide off of the pedals as you row. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is designed to avoid just that, as it features large foot pedals with non-slip surfaces and secure straps.
If you find yourself holding back while you row to stay on the rowing machine, you may never reach your max fitness potential, and you may find yourself so irritated that you’ll end up not working out as often as you would like to. With the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine, you may find yourself more willing to work out consistently and to go for it when you work out.
Keep in mind that if you do consistently find yourself rowing very intensely, you may want to get a mat to place underneath the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine to prevent it from sliding back and forth as you row.
Pros and Cons
- Large LCD console
- Anti-slip foot pedals
- Transport wheels
- Low max weight
- Can shift without a mat
Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine
If you’re looking for the best rowing machine under 500, you’ll want to consider the Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine. It’s proof that when you set up a home gym on a budget, you don’t have to sacrifice all of the bells and whistles you may find at a commercial gym.
The Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine comes with eight different resistance levels so that you can adjust the machine to your preferred workout level. It also features a computer display panel built-in, so that you can keep track of your distance rowed, speed, and your calories burned.
Its solid steel frame can make you feel confident in your purchase, knowing that you’re likely to get years of reliable use out of it. That makes the initial investment in the Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine very worth it; after all, no one wants to have to buy a piece of exercise equipment to have to replace it a year later (and especially not if you’re operating on a budget).
Pros and Cons
- Adjustable foot straps
- High-quality construction
- Easy to store and transport
- Not quite
- Some find it unchallenging
Goplus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine
If you’re particularly mindful of your finances, you don’t want to spend your money on anything you don’t have to (which is also true even if you aren’t on a budget, honestly). In that case, you may want to select possibly the best affordable rowing machine that doesn’t require a bunch of additional fees.
Many rowing machines can be complicated enough to put together that you may find yourself wishing you had sprung to pay for it to be assembled for you. However, the Goplus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine is so lightweight and simple to put together that many people report having no issues whatsoever collecting it. (Plus, if you’re like me, you may enjoy the satisfaction of putting something together yourself.)
The Goplus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine also offers a smooth and quiet workout experience, which can be a significant relief to those who crave piece when they workout, or who don’t enjoy having to listen to music while they row.
Pros and Cons
- Large LCD screen
- Non-slip grip handlebars
- Velcro straps on foot pedals can come undone
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
If there’s one thing that’s likely to make you stop working out as often as your fitness and health goals demand, it’s a piece of exercise equipment that makes you uncomfortable. (After all, working out can be hard enough on its own.) The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine was designed, however, to not only be effective but also to be comfortable enough that you’ll be eager to get on it and row.
The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine features a molded seat that’s specially engineered to be comfortable and keep you wanting to row even longer (and go even harder). It also includes footplates that pivot and feature safety straps that can fit most feet, so you can relax and row in comfort and ease.
Pros and Cons
- Steel frame
- Designed for comfort
- Not all feet fit on the foot pedals
Stamina ATS Air Rower
While many rowing machines offer adjustable resistance, if you want to change your resistance level mid-workout (say, after you’ve warmed up, or if you realize that you set it a bit high and need to dial it back a bit), you typically have to stop your workout to adjust the setting.
With the Stamina ATS Air Rower, that isn’t a problem at all. It works thanks to wind resistance, so however much the machine pushes back is entirely up to the intensity you are working out at. It responds to your body’s movements naturally, so you don’t have to think about the settings at all and get lost in your flow.
The Stamina ATS Air Rower may also your best rowing machine for the money if you crave comfort in your workout. While some do find the seat small, it is padded and upholstered, so you’ll feel great as you work out (which makes you more likely to work out in the first place).
Pros and Cons
- Wind resistance
- Upholstered and padded seat
- The seat is a bit small
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine
Are you one of those people who finds themselves treating themselves to a coffee once (or twice, or three times) a week? (I may do it more than that.) You may be shocked realize that you can get a quality home rowing machine for less than probably spend on a coffee in a month.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine is exceptionally affordable, and not only that, it’s convenient. The extremely compact design and light build mean it’s easy to store and move around whenever and wherever you want to use it so that you can be flexible with your workout routine.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine is also an excellent fit if your primary concern is focusing on your upper body strength or reaching your cardio goals. With a price this low, you may well wonder what took you so long to start rowing and get more fit (and you can go right back to treating yourself to coffee—a win-win!).
Pros and Cons
- Extremely low price
- Targets your upper body
- Very compact
- Can be hard on your knees
Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine
You may worry that if you’re looking for the best value rowing machine that you’ll have to pick out something that won’t challenge you long term. But the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine is designed to grow with you as your fitness level improves, so you don’t have to worry about needing to buy another machine in the near future.
It offers eight different resistance settings, and many users find even the medium settings challenging, so there’s a good chance that you’ll feel pushed and improved by the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine long after you’ve become accustomed to working out on a rowing machine.
On top of that, it offers a large LCD so that you can easily track your workout progress, keeping a close eye on how well your routine is working and using the data to measure just how far you’ve come toward your goals.
Pros and Cons
- Eight different resistance levels
- Large LCD display
- Folding frame
- Bolts on foot pedals may need retightening
- The seat can be noisy
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5612 Dual Function Rowing Machine
Want to make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your rowing machine? The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5612 Dual Function Rowing Machine is on your side. It offers dual function capabilities thanks to its footplates.
In addition to targeting your overall body, you can accurately focus your upper body with upright rows and resisted bicep curls, so that you can bulk up your arms and shoulders with the same piece of equipment you use for more general strength training and cardio workouts.
It’s magnetic tension system also ensures a quieter workout than many other rowing machines, so the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5612 Dual Function Rowing Machine may be your best bet if your roommate, neighbor, or family members don’t want to have to listen to you workout (or if you're going to row in peace yourself).
Pros and Cons
- Dual-function workout capabilities
- LCD computer
- Recoil can be slow
Body Xtreme Fitness - Rowing Machine Turbo 2000
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a rowing machine that’s up to date and modern. The Body Xtreme Fitness – Rowing Machine Turbo 2000 was recently revamped and redone to be even more useful and powerful, so you can feel satisfied that you’re getting a rowing machine of value.
It also features an Easy Dial tension adjustment, so that you can continuously revamp and redo your workout to fit your changing fitness needs and demands. The Body Xtreme Fitness - Rowing Machine Turbo 2000 is engineered to work well for both beginner level rowers and those who have been rowing long enough to need a challenge. Wherever you are on your journey, the Body Xtreme Fitness - Rowing Machine Turbo 2000 may be the right rowing machine for you.
Pros and Cons
- Easy to store
- Designed for both low intensity and serious workouts
- Big enough for tall rowers
- Can be hard to assemble
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great workout in the privacy and comfort of your own home. With a home rowing machine, you can work out your entire body, raise your heart rate, and maybe even find some well-deserved peace of mind, all without hitting your wallet too hard.
Thanks to our research we’ve gathered here, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re getting the value for your dollar you want out of a rowing machine. Every one of these ten rowing machines having something great to offer, so you can break a sweat without breaking the bank!