First Degree Newport Challenge AR Review

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Reviewed and Compared By BEMH Indoor Rowing Team • Updated: April 14, 2021

First Degree Fitness Newport AR indoor rower is a top-rated fluid resistance rowing machine. Meaning you get a rower that worth every penny of your $800. The sporty shiny red First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Water Rowing Machine is an excellent addition to the “Horizontal Series” of rowers.

It’s compact and designed for home use to offer a killer workout for any fitness level. Unlike the majority of water rowers on the market, the AR First Degree rower allows you to change resistance at the turn of a dial.

When changing resistance on most of the water-resistance rowing machines, you will have to stop rowing and get up to manually add water to the tank which is pretty unpractical.

But this First Degree water rower allows you to change the tension on the go without having to add water. This is an innovated patented technology used on the First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR water rowing machine.

Apart from this unique feature, the Newport Challenge AR indoor rower has other good features as well. They include 300-lb max user weight, 38″ max inseam accommodation, leakproof twin tank, monitor, comfortable seat and unbreakable belt drive. 

First Degree Fitness Challenge AR Overview:

As we mentioned before the easy dial adjustment is not the only reason we recommend the First Degree Newport rower. There are quite a few other features of First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR water rower that make it good value for the money. These features include triple bladed impeller that delivers instant catch and consistent resistance.

Improved pully system, computer with USB port, adjustable footplates, comfy seat, belt-drive, aluminum seat rail, and ergonomic design.

And if that’s not enough, the 50+ top-rated consumer reviews on Amazon about the First Degree Fitness Newport AR rower water rower exercise machine might help you make the decision.

To find out more before buying the New Challenge AR, we highly recommend you to read our in-depth AR First Degree Fitness rower review down blow.

Newport Challenge AR Frame

The Newport Challenge AR First Degree Fitness rowing machine doesn’t feature wooden materials. It’s made of high-quality steel and durable aluminum that weighs 68-lb when the tank is full.

The Challenge Newport First Degree rower frame can withstand up to 300 pounds user weight. This amount of weight capacity for a compact First Degree rower indicates the quality of both the parts and the frame.

The Challenge AR water rower has double coated corrosion resistant paint which helps to protect against humidity. But we still suggest you to use rubber equipment mat to prevent the AR First Degree WaterRower against humidity and vibration. The sporty red color used on the First Degree fluid rower also gives a good home gym style look to the rower.

As far as the required space goes, the top mid-price water rower makes cardio at home possible for those living in smallest apartments. The AR First Degree Fitness fluid rower measures 77″ L x 20″ W when in use.

And when it’s not in use, it can easily be stored upright taking as little as 21″x20″ space. There are two built-in transit wheels that make the Newport Challenge AR Indoor Rower simple to move around and store away.

Newport Challenge AR Resistance
Newport Challenge AR Indoor Rower

There are two factors to consider in rowing machine resistance. The amount of resistance it can provide and the level of noise.

Fortunately, the First Degree Fitness AR Newport Challenge offers a good amount of resistance and makes very little noise. Being a water rower, the First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR provides the sound and feel of real on-water rowing which is nearly silent and proven to be very inspiring.

It has the leakproof twin tank and 4-level of adjustable resistance to make sure all fitness levels can get a challenging workout. So, whether you are a beginner or elite, there is enough resistance for you to challenge yourself. Unlike cheap indoor rowers, the resistance is consistent. That means you don’t get a jerky unpleasant motion in your strokes.

Last but not least, the Newport Challenge AR responds to your effort. It means the fluid resistance technology allows the rower to also automatically control and adjust the resistance from ‘Feather-light’ to ‘Olympic sprint’ load levels. So, the harder you pull, the more resistance you get, which is similar to concept 2 and water rower Club.

To fill the tank of the First Degree Newport Challenge AR, you will need 17 liters of water. It’s recommended to use distilled water and add a treatment tablet to the tank every 7 months. The First Degree AR rower comes with the 4 water treatment tablets and a water siphon pump to make the process easier.

Newport Challenge AR Monitor

Let’s get right to it and see what kind of monitor you get when Buying First Degree Fitness Newport AR. This First Degree AR rower features a pretty good computer that uses 2 AA batteries (included) and provides all the important rowing feedbacks. You can track the time, distance, 500M split time, strokes per minute, calories burned, watts and heart rate.

Keep in mind that you are going to need a buy a 5 Mhz chest strap to see your heart rate. There are 3 buttons on the monitor that allows you to set your goal.

Note that the First Degree Fitness Newport doesn’t have the Bluetooth and ANT+ connection capabilities. It has a USB mini A-type connector that allows you to connect your computer with the rower.

You will then need to download the free software/drivers from their website to be able to save your workout stats. Windows 32/64 is supported but MAC systems aren’t supported yet.

Unfortunately, the First Degree Challenge AR Monitor is not backlit and doesn’t have preset programs, storage capacity, and rowing games. It’s also not capable of joining the online rowing racing apps.

Seat And Handlebar

The Challenge AR indoor water rower features an ergonomically designed Super comfortable contoured seat. You can do long indoor water rower exercises without feeling uncomfortable.

The top of the seat is 13″ off the floor. If you have knee issues, this might be too low and not ideal for you. The seat has precision bearings and low-friction rollers that help to glide across the rail very smoothly.

Another really important and excellent feature of the First Degree AR fluid rower the high quality anodized aluminum seat rail. It’s durable, looks good, and makes the operation very smooth.

Last but not least is the soft ergonomic design hand grip. It’s made to reduce stress on the hands and wrists while rowing.

Newport First Degree AR Footrest

This water rower home rowing machine comes with highly adjustable footplates and adjustable straps. They can accommodate all feet sizes, ensure optimal foot placement and comfortable rowing position.

The footboards feature upgraded advanced heel support to offer low impact and extra comfort during rowing workout.

Shipping and Assembly

The Newport Challenge first degree fitness rower parts ships in two boxes. A light-box which is 51″x3″x4″ that weighs 5lbs and a heavier box which is 38″x22″x23″ and weighs 68lbs. The Newport Challenge AR water rower machine comes with free shipping.

As far as the assembly goes, the First Degree AR water rower rowing machine comes half pre-assembled. But there are still parts that you need to put together. The tools that are required for the assembly are all included.

Following the instructions, it shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes to fully assemble all the First Degree rower parts. Putting this rower together is fairly easy and you should be able to do it by yourself. Along with the rower and the tools, you will also receive a siphon to pump the water into the twin tank.

Maintenance and Warranty

The First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Water Rowing Machine is backed by excellent warranty terms. You have 5-year on the frame, 3-year on tanks and seals, 2-year on mechanical components (non-wearing) and 1-year on components (wearing). So, you can buy the Fitness Degree AR rowing machine water rower with peace of mind.

If you have any problem with the rower, you will need to go to the First Degree Fitness website. There you will be asked to fill out the form to validate warranty support and register your unique product purchase.

Always make sure to save your original receipt. The sturdy quality and generous warranty help to round out the overall solid Newport Challenge AR Water Rowing Machine.

Featuring durable belt drive system, the Newport Challenge AR water rowing machine provides a smooth operation. Unlike the chain drive system, it doesn’t require oiling. And overall it’s cleaner, quieter and requires very little maintenance.

The First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR also has an improved pulley system that increases the range of resistance whilst retaining constant tension and recoil action.

Always make sure the seat wheels and rail are clean. There are also a few other instructions that you will receive When buying First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower Water Rower.

When working out on the First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower Water Rower, remember to use proper form. It helps to prolong the life of the rowing machine’s parts and maintains stability throughout the rowing movement.

Newport AR Water Rower Pros:

  • It’s compact and can be stored vertically
  • AR features the Fitness Degree’s Fluid Technology adjustable resistance
  • It’s made of durable steel and aluminum materials
  • The handle features a soft ergonomic design
  • It has a contoured comfortable seat
  • Footrests and straps are highly adjustable
  • Multi-functional monitor with USB
  • 38″ Max user capacity
  • 300-Lb weight support
  • Easy assembly

Newport AR Water Rower Cons:

  • Heart Rate strap is not included
  • Newport Challenge AR doesn’t have preset programs, internal memory, and racing game
  • It’s not Bluetooth and ANT/+ enabled
  • Elite users find the max resistance not challenging

First Degree Fitness AR Specs:

AA Batteries
78"L x 21"W x 20-"H

My Final Verdict

The Newport Challenge AR Water Rowing Machine is a great piece of home exercise equipment. If you prefer to have water resistance over the other types, yet, can’t afford to spend more than $900, this water rowing machine is for you.

When buying this water rowing machine, you might save a few hundred bucks compared to some other home water rowers such as the Club WaterRower. You can also use your Amazon credit card and pay for it for 12 months which makes it even more affordable for most people.

First Degree Fitness products such as the Ar and the Apollo II rower are certainly not only for beginners, as those who do elite rowing workouts can also find great use in this type of water rower exercise machines too.

Of course, if you are doing an intense cardio workout to lose excess weight or for competition, you want to know it doesn’t break, and this particular First Degree Fitness rower model is ideal for doing just that.

AR First Degree rowing machine is perfect for home use, this rower is belt drive which is smooth, clean, quiet and maintenance free.

This also means that your floor and clothes stay clean because the belt doesn’t require oiling, unlike the chain system. The ergonomic design helps to prevent strain on arms, wrists, and hands.

We have picked this First Degree Fitness water rower as one of the best for home use because not only does it certainly look the part with its sleek appearance, but it is easy to use and truly durable, for even the most intense indoor rowing workout.

Obviously, Fist Degree Fitness is a big name brand, so you are getting instant peace of mind. But the sturdy construction, multi-function display, ergonomic seat, and aluminum seat rails, will provide you a comfortable workout without having to deal with maintenance.

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.