First Degree Fitness Apollo II Rower Review

First Degree Fitness Apollo II Overview

Are you in the market for a home water rower? Indoor water rowers are usually the preferred form of resistance for avid rowing fans because the feel of it best simulates actual rowing, but in the comfort of your own home. The First Degree Fitness Apollo II is one of a long line of premium home rowing machines from a brand name that has long been trusted across the home fitness industry. The rower itself is constructed from a combination of solid steel and hand-lacquered ash with steel casing that gives the rugged, wooden appearance that First Degree Fitness home rowers including the famous Viking II are famous for. The maximum suggested weight capacity is set at 330 lbs which shows that the Apollo II is built for users of all shapes and sizes. The forested black American ash is beautifully crafted, although one negative about the machine is that it does not fold which forces users to store the machine vertically. While it does store well, it does limit users who live in a smaller living space.

Consistent with the entire home rowing machine industry, the First Degree Fitness Apollo II has a substantial footprint so ample space is required to use the machine. The dimensions measure out to be 22” W x 21” H x 84” L, which means you will need to clear at least seven feet of space to comfortably operate the Apollo II rower. As with any water rowing machine, the Apollo II’s weight will depend on whether or not the water tank is full. Out of the box, the Apollo II weighs in at approximately 80 lbs, but that will obviously increase when the tank is filled with water. Luckily, First Degree Fitness has installed convenient built in wheels so that moving the Apollo II rower around the house is a breeze, with or without water in the tank.

Not surprisingly, the First Degree Fitness Apollo II comes equipped with a specially designed water tank that provides ample resistance with FDF’s patented Variable Fluid Resistance technology. At the press of a button, the resistance can be switched between the five levels of water resistance, which activates the triple blade impeller inside the Apollo II’s unique twin-tank design. The Apollo II comes with a maintenance-free belt drive and rapid recoil system, which helps keep the machine smooth and quiet. While a water rower will never be as silent as a magnetic resistance rower, the Apollo II does an excellent job of limiting excess noise which can potentially be disturbing to your neighbors or other members of your household.

Where the First Degree Fitness Apollo II is somewhat limited is in the monitor and technology department. In an age where connected fitness machines are rapidly gaining popularity, the Apollo II provides a relatively basic multi-level LCD monitor that displays statistics like time, distance, strokes per minute, calories burned, and 500m split time. The monitor does not come with any Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, but it does come with an operational USB port that you can plug in your devices to track your progress and workouts. Do not expect to sync the Apollo II with any integrated entertainment though, as the rest of the technological specifications are quite limited.

As with most home rowing machines, assembly is actually quite minimal and with the tools provided by First Degree Fitness, it should take the average user between 30 minutes to an hour to put together. First Degree Fitness ships the Apollo II in two different boxes: one for the water tank, and the other for the parts to the frame, so make sure you receive both boxes before trying to assemble it. The maintenance-free belt drive is definitely a plus as the durable materials and minimal wear and tear means that the only upkeep the Apollo II needs is an occasional water purification tablet in the tank. First Degree Fitness does not generally sell directly to the public, so it uses distributors to sell its fitness machines, or sites like Amazon. Shipping rates and times will absolutely depend on which site or location you order the machine from so make sure you receive clarification before placing your order. Oftentimes the simplest place to order your fitness machines is Amazon as their shipping costs and product tracking is simple to understand.

Finally, the First Degree Fitness Apollo II rower comes with a somewhat reasonable price tag compared to other machines in the home water rower industry. Ranging from $1,200 – $1,600 USD depending on the site, the Apollo II can hardly be considered cheap, but for a high quality product from a trusted brand name and industry leader, you can definitely expect to pay up. Check with the site you are shopping on to see if there are any financing options to help ease the burden of the higher price tag. The warranty is decent for the home rower industry and it is always nice to see that brands have confidence in their own products. First Degree Fitness offers a 10-year limited warranty on the frame, 3-years limited on the tanks and seals, 2 years limited on mechanical parts, and 1-year limited on other components.

First Degree Fitness Apollo II Rower Pros:

  • Strong frame made with high quality steel and American lacquered ash
  • Innovative triple blade impellers make resistance smooth and quiet
  • Patented Variable Fluid Resistance technology makes switching through resistance settings a breeze
  • Ergonomically designed handlebar and foot plates provide a workout that is low-stress on your joints and back
  • Maintenance-free belt drive
  • Built in wheels for easy transport
  • Machine is fairly light without water in the tank
  • Easy assembly with tools and instructions included
  • Decent warranty
  • A high maximum user weight means it is built for users of all shapes and sizes

First Degree Fitness Apollo II Rower Cons:

  • Price is on the expensive side
  • Lack of technology aside from a USB port
  • Limited LCD monitor
  • No Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity
  • Large footprint and non-foldable frame make it difficult to store in small living spaces
  • Only five levels of resistance

First Degree Fitness Apollo II Final Verdict

The First Degree Fitness Apollo II is a high quality machine, made with solid steel and beautifully constructed with American ash. The patented Variable Fluid Resistance technology is a great feature and the innovative three-blade design on the impeller makes switching through resistance levels a piece of cake. Everything about the Apollo II says high quality, from the maintenance-free belt drive to the comfortable seat and ergonomically designed handlebars. Could it potentially use some more connected technology and a better monitor? Sure, but at the very least users get a high-functioning machine from a trusted brand that is at about the average price range for home water rowers. Chances are once you use the machine and feel how smooth the experience is, you will overlook the shortcomings, which makes the Apollo II one of the best home water rowing machines in its class!

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.