Things to Know About Smart Rowing Machines

Technology is everywhere these days and nearly every appliance we use has the ability to be a smart machine. So doesn’t it make sense that our fitness equipment should come with connected technology as well? People seem to generally think that adding in connected technology to a rowing machine automatically makes it better. Unfortunately for all of the techies out there, this isn’t always the case. So trust me, even though I love technology, it is definitely not always an improvement.

Rowing machines and other fitness equipment are getting more advanced with each passing year. Companies like Peloton really revolutionized how we looked at fitness equipment, especially if the machine comes with a giant screen and connected fitness classes that are accessible via rowing applications.

Some rowers come with Bluetooth or WiFi connections, and others come with smartphone compatibility and the ability to join lessons from anywhere in the world. So while all of this sounds incredible, especially from the comfort of your own home, I’m going to break down why there are pros and cons to connected technology rowing machines such as NordicTrack RW900 and Hydrow Rower.

Connected Technology Rowers: the Pros

The benefits of having connected technology in your rowing machine are obvious. We live through our smartphones these days and integrating them to keep track of our fitness makes sense to a lot of us. Many rowers come with connected apps that you can download and connect straight to your phone or tablet. Thus, giving the rower the ability to speak with our connected devices adds an extra bit of incentive for users to stay motivated.

Then there is the case to be made for entertainment while using your rower. Having Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity allows us to connect to our devices or even a television that is in the same room. This allows you to listen to music or watch the game, as you get in a workout on your rower. Many of these rowers come with tablet holders or a place to connect your device. Some people are good with just working out, but others like to be entertained while doing so.

Adding in internet connectivity opens the door for a world of options for your connected rower. Join in to classes that show up directly on your monitor, or even sign up for one on one training. You can even ride with friends in a series of world famous locations, or compete against them in a race to see who can burn the most calories.


  • Keep track of your fitness levels and workout history by integrating your connected device through an app.
  • Always be entertained when you work out with the ability to connect to any smart device in your home.
  • Join in to classes or ride with your friends in exotic locations.

Connected Technology Rowers: the Cons

There are two sides to every coin and adding in technology to a rowing machine doesn’t always make it better. The obvious problem with joining an app or workout class is that it costs money! These connected classes often come with a monthly or annual subscription fee, which of course adds on to the cost of the machine itself. Some machines do not even let you use the monitor or connectivity if you do not have a subscription to the app. If you do not intend on using these features, then I would suggest going with a non connected rower instead.

Now, consider that you bought a machine that does not require you to pay for a subscription and you can use the rower as is. Well, if it is a connected machine of any kind, it will cost you double or sometimes even triple what you would pay for a non-connected rower. This is another obvious downfall of connected rowers: if you aren’t serious about rowing then you are likely overpaying. If you are using your rower for training and are on it every day, then investing in a higher end model makes sense. But if you are just using this to workout from home once or twice per week, then think long and hard about if you even need such a high end rower.

Finally, another negative for connected rowing machines is that technology can be distracting! Sometimes you just need to focus on your workout for an hour and not bother with having to have entertainment. I know I would just stop and find myself watching a television show or a sports game instead of getting in the best workout I can. Most rowing machine users do not need all of the bells and whistles of the high-end connected models. If you want to just workout and get away from the technology for a while, I suggest just getting a non-connected rowing machine.


  • Most connected apps and fitness classes require a monthly subscription fee to use.
  • A connected rowing machine can cost double or even triple what a normal rower costs.
  • Too much technology can be distracting and take away from the quality of your workout.

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny
Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, my name is Sayed Hamed Hosseiny. I am a professional health and fitness trainer with nearly 20 years of experience using ellipticals, rowing machines, and spin bikes. I also have my own EU-based Rock Fitness Pro fitness brand where I design, import and sell exercise equipment such as rowing machines and spin bikes. I and writers on my team also often receive fitness equipment to review and evaluate their functionalities and performance from tens of different exercise machines manufacturers. Fitness equipment tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on this website are my opinion (and opinions of my fitness expert colleagues) based on tens of criteria. I never accept payment to write reviews of products or say positive things about fitness equipment products. If brands are interested to have me review their rowers, ellipticals, or spin bikes, they can get in touch with me via email provided on the contact page and send a sample of their product.