Best Compact Rowing Machine – December, 2018 Reviews & Buyers Guide

There’s no denying the appeal of working out at home. Avoiding gym memberships, crowds, waiting for the equipment you want to be free, or having to plan your schedule around a gym’s hours are all tempting reasons to get your gym equipment and work out where you want to, when you want to. But unfortunately, you may not have space for a full personal gym in your home (I know I don’t).

However, a compact rowing machine can pack nearly every function of a total gym into one easy to store, portable, and reasonably sized piece of equipment! Whether you want to strength train and build muscle, get trim and fit, or focus on cardio health, a rowing machine can do it all—and there’s likely one that can work in whatever space you have, no matter how small.

Ready to jump into the big world of compact rowing machines? Here are a few things to be aware of before you get started:

1.  A compact rower doesn’t have to mean low quality or inferior rower. There are many top models that store upright, fold or  are minimal in size without sacrificing state-of-the-art features.

2. Don’t be put off by the prices of some compact rowing machines. Since they offer such a complete workout, they’re  often the only piece of exercise equipment you need, which makes even a luxury rowing machine often great value and even a luxury rowing machine often great value and investment.

3. Make certain to set up an appointment with your doctor before you start working out on a rowing machine. You’ll want to be certain your heart and body are in good shape, and if they’re not,  your doctor can help you devise a rowing workout routine that can work best for you.

4. If you live in a small apartment or dorm room, be aware that some rowing machines can be quiet loud. If this is a concern for you, you’ll want to look for a magnetic rowing machine (we have several on this list) that offers a nearly- silent workout.

We’ve put together a list of the ten best compact rowing machines available in 2018. Read on, and get ready for a streamlined workout that is all smooth sailing:

Best Compact Rowing Machine

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Our Favorite
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Highest Rated
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine Rower w/ Digital Monitor
Highest Quality
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine Adjustable Resistance with Folding Arms, LCD Monitor & Safety Straps
JOROTO MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine
Description
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 replicates the sensation of rowing on open water, allowing your arms to fluidly in their full range.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 is not only small and easy to store, but it also is offered at an incredibly low price, so you can save as much cash as you will room in your house.
The Stamina Products Conversion II Recumbent Bike / Rower offers the best of both worlds by combining a compact rower and a bike into one space-saving machine.
The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine respects your commitment and may be what you’re looking for to meet your long-term goals.
The Joroto MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine offers 16 different levels of resistance.
Our Rating
Price
$111.99
$75.99
$724.00
$139.99
from $349.00
Our Favorite
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Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Description
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 replicates the sensation of rowing on open water, allowing your arms to fluidly in their full range.
Our Rating
Price
$111.99
Highest Rated
Image
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine Rower w/ Digital Monitor
Description
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 is not only small and easy to store, but it also is offered at an incredibly low price, so you can save as much cash as you will room in your house.
Our Rating
Price
$75.99
Highest Quality
Image
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower
Description
The Stamina Products Conversion II Recumbent Bike / Rower offers the best of both worlds by combining a compact rower and a bike into one space-saving machine.
Our Rating
Price
$724.00
Image
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine Adjustable Resistance with Folding Arms, LCD Monitor & Safety Straps
Description
The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine respects your commitment and may be what you’re looking for to meet your long-term goals.
Our Rating
Price
$139.99
Image
JOROTO MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine
Description
The Joroto MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine offers 16 different levels of resistance.
Our Rating
Price
from $349.00
Image
Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine 8.8Lbs Folding Exercise Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine Rower
Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine with Transport Wheels NS-40503RW
Description
The thickly padded seat and pivoting foot pedals add to the comfort of the Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine, helping to make your workout routine as comfortable as possible.
The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower can help make it easier to make sure you’re getting the cardio workout you desire.
It also comes with built-in wheels, so it’s a breeze to move the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine out of the way when you’re done using it.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine is a fantastic compromise between extreme compactness and impressive effectiveness, and is one of the best portable rowing machine choices you could find.
The foot pedals are placed thoughtfully so that it’s easy to reach them (even if you are a taller user), and they are crafted with a slip-resistance in mind.
Our Rating
Price
$247.77
$449.00
$249.99
$110.00
$179.65
Image
Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
Description
The thickly padded seat and pivoting foot pedals add to the comfort of the Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine, helping to make your workout routine as comfortable as possible.
Our Rating
Price
$247.77
Image
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
Description
The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower can help make it easier to make sure you’re getting the cardio workout you desire.
Our Rating
Price
$449.00
Image
Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine 8.8Lbs Folding Exercise Rower
Description
It also comes with built-in wheels, so it’s a breeze to move the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine out of the way when you’re done using it.
Our Rating
Price
$249.99
Image
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine Rower
Description
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine is a fantastic compromise between extreme compactness and impressive effectiveness, and is one of the best portable rowing machine choices you could find.
Our Rating
Price
$110.00
Image
Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine with Transport Wheels NS-40503RW
Description
The foot pedals are placed thoughtfully so that it’s easy to reach them (even if you are a taller user), and they are crafted with a slip-resistance in mind.
Our Rating
Price
$179.65

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050

Whether you’re a college student, a busy stay-at-home mom, a 9-to-5 worker with a killer commute, or someone who packs their schedule full to the brim (which can be a great way to live), it’s easy to find yourself short on space, cash, and time.

If this sounds like your life, the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 may fit right in, and may even end up making your life a little easier. Its compact design includes folding arms, so it can be easy to stow it away and have it take up much less space than many other standard rowing machines.

The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 replicates the sensation of rowing on open water, allowing your arms to fluidly in their full range, so you can imagine yourself in a calm, wide open space even if you’re in a hectic, small, or cramped environment. And when your mind and spirit feel great, it can be far easier to stick with your workout!

Pros and Cons

  • Folds up
  • Allows full range of motion
  • Foam-padded hand grips
  • The clock can malfunction

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

Looking for a compact rowing machine that not only saves you space but saves you money as well? The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 is not only small and easy to store, but it also is offered at an incredibly low price, so you can save as much cash as you will room in your house.

While you won’t have to pay a high price for the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205, you’ll still get many of the features you may only expect at a higher price point. It comes with 12 levels of resistance, so you can easily adjust the rowing machine to match what you need.

It also features a smooth and comfortable seat, foot straps that can be adjusted, and an electronic monitor that shows you how many calories you’ve burned along with other vital workout date.

Pros and Cons

  • Extremely low price
  • 12 levels of resistance
  • Pivoting foot plates
  • May not be challenging enough for advanced rowers

Stamina Products Conversion II Recumbent Bike / Rower

What’s an even better use of space than a compact rowing machine? A compact rowing machine that also doubles as a bike! The Stamina Products Conversion II Recumbent Bike / Rower offers the best of both worlds by combining a compact rower and a bike into one space-saving machine.

Not only that, but the Stamina Products Conversion II Recumbent Bike / Rower also features a top bar, so that you can do upper body exercises like tricep kickbacks and bicep curls. With a machine this varied, you’re likely to not need any other piece of gym equipment, which can save you a ton of space.

While the price is a bit higher than some others on our list, you’re getting even more benefits than many standard rowing machines have (and even a modest rowing machine can offer a lot).

Pros and Cons

  • Can be used as a bike and a rower
  • Can perform upper body exercises
  • Hand-pulse sensor
  • Somewhat high cost
  • LCD display isn’t backlit

Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine

Just because you don’t want to commit to a gym membership doesn’t mean you don’t want to commit to a long-term, lasting workout routine. (In fact, you could argue that investing in home gym equipment actually shows more of a commitment to working out and staying healthy.) The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine respects your commitment and may be what you’re looking for to meet your long-term goals.

It’s made of steel, so you can feel secure in the durability of the construction. You may think that a piece of steel exercise equipment would be clunky and take up way too much room, but the Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine features folding arms that help make it compact and good for tight spaces.

Pros and Cons

  • Low price
  • Steel frame
  • Includes a warranty
  • Foot straps may not hold well

Joroto MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine

As you continue on your fitness journey, you’re likely to want a rowing machine that will grow with you and continue to challenge and push you to be your very best. The Joroto MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine offers 16 different levels of resistance.

With so many options, you’ll be able to adjust the Joroto MR30 Health & Fitness Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine to mimic whatever rowing experience best fits your goals, whether it’s a lazy row down a calm river or a competitive race against a top-rower.

All this power is offers through a magnetic flywheel, so you can workout in near silence no matter how hard you’re pushing yourself. (In fact, the only noise may be the crowds of rowing fans cheering you on in your head.) It also includes a fitness monitor so you can track your fitness progress and will know exactly when it’s time to step it up to the next level.

Pros and Cons

  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Very quiet
  • Includes fitness monitor
  • Some find the computer manual inadequate

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine

If you have any joint issue at all, you’ll be looking for a low-impact exercise routine that will not cause you any unnecessary pain or injury (after all, if you hurt your body, it sort of defeats the point of working out).

The Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine can be easy on your joints, as it features hydraulic cylinder resistance, which means smooth, even, consistent movements as you row. This puts much less strain on your joints, allowing you to work out with less pain or potential injury.

The thickly padded seat and pivoting foot pedals add to the comfort of the Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine, helping to make your workout routine as comfortable as possible. And it’s small enough to be an option for tight spaces and crammed living situations.

Pros and Cons

  • Single button monitor
  • Thick seat padding
  • 5-year warranty on frame
  • Manual may be confusing
  • The tension may need to be readjusted often

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Getting truly healthy is about way more than looking great, and it’s even about more than being strong and flexible. To know you’re at your best health-wise, you’ll want to make sure you’re also working out the inside of your body—especially your heart.

Rowing is a great way to get in your cardio (while you also take care of many of your other fitness needs) and the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower can help make it easier to make sure you’re getting the cardio workout you desire.

The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower comes with a heart rate monitor that straps to your chest, so you can keep an eye on exactly how your heart is doing while you work out, and it can even help you monitor your progress as you advance.

Pros and Cons

  • Foldable
  • Monitors heart rate
  • Easy to store
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Some find the seat uncomfortable

Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine

You may worry that a rowing machine that’s built to be compact may not be built to last. After all, sometimes companies use flimsier materials in order to make their equipment seem lighter or easier to move around and store. Which is exactly what makes the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine one of the best foldable rowing machine options out there.

Not only does the frame fold, so that it can fit into much smaller places when you’re done with your workout, but it’s built solidly and is made to last. (After all, what’s the point in investing in a piece of equipment if it’s only going to start working before you’ve seen results?)

It also comes with built-in wheels, so it’s a breeze to move the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine out of the way when you’re done using it. So if the only spot you have space to workout is right in front of your tv (which is perfectly convenient), it doesn’t have to stay there when you’re done.

Pros and Cons

  • Relatively low price
  • Folds up
  • Magnetic resistance
  • Display monitor isn’t backlit

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine

Living in a small space isn’t the only reason you may prefer a compact rowing machine. If you’re interested in working out on the go, you’ll want one that’s light, extremely small, and still gets the job done. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine is a fantastic compromise between extreme compactness and impressive effectiveness, and is one of the best portable rowing machine choices you could find.

This sit-up rowing machine is small enough that you may not even notice it’s there, and you could conceivably bring it along when you want to work out in hotel rooms (which means not having to seek out a hotel that includes a gym). The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1406 Sit Up Rowing Machine focuses on your upper body and shoulders, but you can still get a mean cardio workout out of it, so it does multiple jobs, even with its incredibly small size.

It also doubles as a sit-up bench, so you can do additional exercises on it if you want to mix it up a bit and not focus exclusively on rowing.

Pros and Cons

  • Extremely low price
  • Very small
  • Solid steel frame
  • Only targets your upper body
  • Some find it lacks back support

Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine

Just become you want a rowing machine that is compact and easy to move doesn’t mean you want to sacrifice comfort. If it doesn’t feel good to use a piece of equipment, you’re less likely to work out—and you may even be more likely to injure yourself during your routine, since you may be distracted or find yourself moving into awkward positions to relieve your discomfort.

The Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine is designed ergonomically to avoid any of those issues. The foot pedals are placed thoughtfully so that it’s easy to reach them (even if you are a taller user), and they are crafted with a slip-resistance in mind. Anyone who has ever had their foot repeatedly slip off a pedal while rowing will be extremely grateful for that.

The row handles also are designed to prevent slipping; they’re covered in foam that makes them easy to grip. And the seat of the Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine is padded and contoured so that you’ll love to sit down and get rowing.

Pros and Cons

  • Includes transport wheels
  • Eight present levels
  • Ergonomic design
  • Instructions may be confusing

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a college student in a tiny dorm, a workaholic who wants a way to knockout their fitness routine in the office, a city apartment dweller, or just someone who can’t spare a large space for their home gym needs, a compact rowing machine can be a fantastic way to meet your fitness goals.

There a ton of great compact rowing machines on the market, which can make the whole selection process a bit overwhelming. Thanks to this list, you know you can pick from some of the best options easily and with confidence—and can start rowing your way to your fitness and health goals, no matter how much space you have.