The Best Compact Rowing Machine: A Maximum Workout With Minimal Equipment

Nicolette Roux
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woman on a rowing machine

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A high-intensity rowing workout burns serious calories and engages 86 percent of the body's muscles, making it an incredibly effective total-body exercise for fat loss. Rowing is a goodcross-training practice for runners, cyclists, weight lifters, and fitness enthusiasts of all kinds making it an excellent addition to any home gym. Rowing machines are awesome, but they're typically large, heavy, bulky pieces of equipment for which most people just don't have the space. That's why we've put in the research, scoured the market, and found the best compact rowing machines to accommodate any space.

The Best Compact Rowers - Our Top Picks

We want you to be able to access the best cardio equipment to save space and burn calories. If you're trying to accomplish big total-body workouts and have limited square footage, we've got you covered with the best pieces of exercise equipment for small spaces, best compact ellipticals, the best compact treadmills, and now the best compact rowing machines on the market.

Why Trust Us?'s editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

Best Overall Compact Rowing Machine - Echelon Row-s Connected Rowing Machine

Echelon Row-s


  • Dimensions: 84" x 21" x 47" in use, 41" x 21" 60" folded
  • Weight: 114.5 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.


The Echelon Row-s is a compact but feature-packed rowing machine, which is why it's our pick for best overall. This rower features 32 adjustable magnetic resistance levels, Bluetooth audio, and a large monitor to keep tabs on your stats and offer a wide range of classes (if you want them). The machine keeps track of your strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, time, and calories.

The weight capacity is on the heavier end at 300 pounds, but it also weighs more than some other options at 114 pounds and doesn’t have wheels, so most users will want to use it fairly close to where they store it—especially because it needs to be plugged in for full functionality! If you’re looking for a rower that you can use in the middle of the garage or a gym, cord-free, and then wheel to the wall afterward, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a well-built rower with immersive programming options, it fits the bill.

What We Like

  • Works well with or without app and programming
  • 300-lb. weight limit
  • Easy to fold and store

What We Don't Like

  • Needs to be plugged in
  • Best used with the subscription programs, even though you don’t technically have to
  • Heavier to move around than some other options

BUY: Echelon Row-s

Best Rowing Machine for Beginners - NordicTrack RW600 Rower

NordicTrack RW600 Rower


  • Dimensions: 87" x 22" x 47"
  • Weight: 117 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.


When you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to have a rower that offers you not only control over resistance but also the structure and guidance you would get from a gym-based class or coach. That’s where an established fitness community and class library like iFIT can be a lifesaver. NordicTrack’s RW600 syncs seamlessly with iFIT’s hundreds of rowing classes, even allowing your instructor to change resistance (surprise!).

However, with manual resistance control in addition to digital, this rower still gives you some hands-on control and works well for those of us who would like to build our foundation freestyle before diving into a class where someone else is controlling the intensity.

What We Like

  • Manual resistance in addition to digital
  • Wheels for easy moving
  • Easy-to-fold and unfold for storage
  • Easy-to-adjust foot pedals

What We Don't Like

  • Speaker audio is limited; headphones are a good idea
  • Definitely designed to work with iFIT subscription
  • Lower than the average weight limit

BUY: NordicTrack RW600 Rower

Best Premium Compact Rowing Machine - Aviron Strong Series Rower



  • Dimensions: 84"L x 27"W x 48"H in use, 35"L x 27"W x 83"H upright
  • Weight: 114 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 507 lbs.


Along with being one of the most accessible rowers on the market for its maximum height and weight capacity, the Aviron Strong Series rower also boasts several high-end features and a sturdy steel and aluminum construction, making it our pick for the best premium rowing machine. This top-of-the-line rower combines air and magnetic resistance, reaching up to 100 pounds of resistance spread across 16 levels. You can also transition between cardio and strength workouts based on Aviron's level recommendations—1-10 for cardio and 11-16 for resistance training. As for comfort, the rower has an exclusive four-way adjustable footplate, a rotating handlebar, and compatibility with Aviron's cloud seat and lumbar support add-ons.

The most noteworthy features of the Aviron Strong Series Rower are the 22-inch rotating HD touchscreen and the interactive workout programming options courtesy of its membership program. You can choose from over 500 workouts across eight distinct categories. We especially like the gaming category that makes your sweat session feel like an afternoon at the arcade. You can also participate in live classes, go for a leisurely scenic row, or try out "Pros vs. Joes" and see how you measure up against the best in the sport.

At $29 per month ($25 per month if you pay annually), the membership has unlimited profiles, so you'll only need one account for your entire household. And when you've finished working out, simply lift, wheel, and store the machine upright without needing to install a wall mount.

What We Like

  • 500+ exciting interactive workouts with membership
  • Rotating/pivoting 22"HD touchscreen (up/down, left/right)
  • Excellent height and weight accessibility
  • 10-year frame and 1-year parts warranty
  • 30-day risk-free trial

What We Don't Like

  • Comfort add-ons cost extra for an already expensive machine + membership
  • Larger footprint when in use and will need an outlet
  • 114 lbs. may still be a bit heavy for some to move around

BUY: Aviron Strong Series Rower

Best Folding Compact Rowing Machine - Echelon Rowing Machine

Echelon Row


  • Dimensions: 84" L x 21" W x 45" H
  • Weight: 106.5 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.


The Echelon Rowing Machine conveniently folds directly in half and has a nice, compact footprint to suit a smaller in-home gym space. It's outfitted with a rotating console that securely holds your phone or tablet in place, so you can stream the Echelon fitness app or your other favorite apps and follow along on your rower.

Your Echelon membership grants access to hundreds of live and on-demand classes with motivating instructors that are filmed on scenic waterways around the world. This rower features 32 electronic resistance levels to accommodate rowers of all levels. There's Bluetooth connectivity with the Echelon app and adjustable foot and height settings.

This rower is on the pricier end of our list, but for all the features you get—especially when you subscribe to the Echelon app, it's worth the investment. Some reviewers complained of app syncing issues, but overall, this is a highly-rated piece of equipment.

What We Like

  • Echelon app features
  • 32 resistance levels
  • Adjustable settings
  • Foldable design

What We Don't Like

  • Possible app sync issues
  • Expensive

BUY: Echelon Rowing Machine

Best Rowing Machine with Screen - ProForm R10 Rower

ProForm R10 Rower


  • Dimensions: 86.5" x 22" x 45"
  • Weight: 120 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.


The ProForm R10 is designed to solve the "yeah, the rower costs this much, but the class subscription costs THIS much" trap. Here’s how they do it: You can either buy the rower outright for $1400 or get it for free with a three-year membership to iFIT, which costs around $1200. On one hand, you definitely need to enjoy classes for this to make sense. But if you do, or even if you just think you do, iFIT’s vast library is bound to have enough options to keep you sweating for a lifetime.

Aside from the whole class question, though, this rower has a lot going for it. The footprint is more compact than almost every other rower listed here, and it’s easily foldable for storage, and simple to push around with front wheels. And many users rave about how quiet this rower is, making it a great option if you’re in an apartment or just don’t want to bug your sleeping children or housemates.

What We Like

  • Comes free with a three-year membership to iFIT
  • Smaller footprint than many other options
  • Space-saver design with front-mounted wheels
  • Very quiet, even when working hard

What We Don't Like

  • You really need to enjoy classes to make the most of it
  • Lower weight capacity

BUY: ProForm R10 Rower

Best Comfortable Compact Rowing Machine - Aviron Impact Series



  • Dimensions: 97"L x 21"W x 43"H in use, 54"L x 21"W x 62"H folded
  • Weight: 97 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 397 lbs.


With its ergonomic seat and 19-inch rotating handlebar, the Impact Series Rower is our pick for the best comfortable rower. This sturdy machine's frame sits at an accessible height of 20 inches, making it convenient when stepping over and sitting without crouching. You can also adjust the length of the footpad and the shoe size to create the most secure positioning for your rowing workout. Jam-packed with interactive programming, the Impact Series Rower has the same robust membership and 22-inch HD touchscreen as the Strong Series but can fold up by lifting the lightweight steel and aluminum rail and wheeling it away for storage. There is no need for a wall mount.

Aside from the noticeable features—like the ergonomic seat—that make this rower excellent in terms of comfort, it also has a whisper nylon belt for a more smooth and quiet row with less noise pollution. The Aviron Impact Series also has roughly 100 pounds of magnetic and air resistance that add up to 16 levels of dynamic training, so transitioning from short HIIT bursts to long endurance-focused rowing sessions is a breeze.

What We Like

  • 20" frame height and ergonomic seat
  • 22" interactive HD touchscreen
  • Whisper nylon belt
  • Foldable lightweight rail and 4 wheels for storage
  • Membership features 500+ programs across 8 categories

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Large footprint when in use and will need an outlet
  • If you're more petite, at 97 lbs. this may still be heavy to move

BUY: Aviron Impact Series Rower

Best Rowing Machine for Home - Sole Fitness SR500 Rower

Sole Fitness SR500 Rower


  • Dimensions: 94" x 18" x 46"
  • Weight: 115 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 515 lbs.


Sole Fitness's SR500 rower is one of the heaviest and longest rowers in our guide, but for certain people, that might be a benefit. It brings a best-in-class weight capacity of over 500 pounds, as well as an unusually high sitting position that’s meant to make the machine easier to get on and off of. All that adds up to a great rowing choice for taller, heavier, and older people who find other rowers to be too low, too small, or too flimsy.

But even setting those perks aside, this is a rower that gets rave reviews for its sturdiness and smooth pull reminiscent of rowing on actual water. The small, non-distracting LCD screen shares just enough information for minimalists to track progress, but you can also utilize Sole Fitness’ Studio subscription service if you want deeper analysis and classes. But refreshingly, unlike some other rowers here, you don’t need an app to fully utilize this machine.

What We Like

  • High seated position easier for heavier and less mobile people to get onto and off of
  • Best-in-class 515-lb. weight limit
  • Syncs with the Sole Studio app (optional), but also works great without

What We Don't Like

  • Needs to be plugged in
  • Heavier to move around than some other options
  • Tougher to fold than some other foldable rowers

BUY: Sole Fitness SR500 Rower

Best Rowing Machine for HIIT - REP Fitness Dual Function Ski and Rowing Erg

REP Fitness Dual Function Ski and Rowing Erg


  • Dimensions: 103" x 35" x 54" (rower mode)
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 515 lbs.


Rowing machines and ski-erg machines are both built around the same flywheel resistance technology, so it makes sense that the two could be combined in the same machine. Rep Fitness tackles the task admirably, creating an all-in-one machine that transitions between rower and ski-erg in just a few seconds and without much extra effort.

Why is this nice? It actually allows you to alternate the two activities, spreading the fatigue across your body and not overly taxing one single muscle group. If you’ve ever felt like your tiring biceps kept you from giving full intensity to an interval workout, you can just switch to ski mode and give your triceps some love, too! With its unobtrusive LCD screen, this is a solid, straightforward machine that is designed with one goal: to help you work HARD.

What We Like

  • Dual functionality - ski and row for full-body workouts
  • Manual resistance means you can use it outdoors without an extension cord
  • Very solid and well-built, this thing doesn’t wiggle!
  • High weight limit - 350 lbs.

What We Don't Like

  • Takes up a lot of space in both modes; not a "stash it somewhere easily" option
  • Expensive compared to some single-function rowers

BUY: REP Fitness Dual Function Ski and Rowing Erg

Best Portable Compact Rowing Machine - Horizon Oxford 3

Horizon Oxford 3


  • Dimensions: 80.7" L x 24.5" W x 43" H
  • Weight: 121 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs.


The sleek Horizon Oxford 3 features 10 magnetic resistance levels to accommodate users at a range of capabilities. It's outfitted with a smooth-action drive belt for an ultra-quiet stroke and realistic on-the-water experience. There are commercial-grade footpads with adjustable straps and the seat height can be easily adjusted to fit users of most heights.

The 5.4-inch LCD display shows calories, meters, strokes per minute, stroke count, time, and watts. There are five pre-loaded programs to guide your workouts. Take note that although this rower has a compact footprint, it is not foldable. It's also heavy in comparison to some of the other rowers on this list, at 121 pounds.

What We Like

  • 10 magnetic resistance levels
  • Foot and seat adjustments
  • 5.4-inch LCD display
  • 5 pre-loaded programs

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Doesn't fold

BUY: Horizon Oxford 3

Best Budget Rowing Machine with Screen - Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

Sunny Health and Fitness Smart Magnetic Rowing Machine


  • Dimensions: 78" x 19" x 23"
  • Weight: 60 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 285 lbs.


This streamlined rowing machine from Sunny Health and Fitness pushes the envelope on how small, light, and inexpensive a rowing machine can be. It weighs just 60 pounds, and is less than two feet wide, making it by far the lightest and easiest to-stash option here. Even the LCD screen is no bigger than a row of numbers that you can toggle through, along with a shelf that you can stash a phone or tablet on top of to stream classes.

The big question, of course, is whether this rower is up to the challenge of actual strenuous exercise. And it definitely is, within reason. The weight limit is just 285 pounds, so it’s not for larger people. And a number of reviewers note just a little rattling while using the rower at high intensities. Far more reviewers note what a pleasant surprise this rower is to set up, use, and use again. If you’re planning on primarily using it for moderate-intensity cardio and are a smaller person, this truly could be all you need.

What We Like

  • Very lightweight and easy to store
  • Simple assembly and operation
  • Tracks stats, but also has a shelf for devices
  • Easy to adjust resistance with a manual dial

What We Don't Like

  • Not the most robust or stable machine on the market
  • Lower weight capacity
  • LCD functionality is pretty bare-bones

BUY: Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

What To Look For in a Compact Rowing Machine


When you're looking for the best compact rowing machine, consider the features that you prioritize. Do you want a connected rower, where you can access live and on-demand classes and follow along with expert instructors on the screen? Or do you want something that's geared toward more manual workouts? It's important to consider the levels of resistance a rowing machine has and the type of resistance you're looking for. If you want something super quiet, magnetic resistance is the way to go. If an ultra-quiet ride isn't high on your priority list, something that uses air resistance fits the bill. Screen size and Bluetooth connectivity are important features to think about. Are you looking for an interactive touchscreen or just a basic monitor? Deciding which features you want most and which you can live without is essential to finding the right rowing machine for you.


This is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a rowing machine. Be sure to measure the space where you plan to put your rowing machine to ensure it will fit. Luckily, all but one of the rowing machines on this list fold, so you can easily store your rower if you need a multi-functional space.


If you're going to spend the money, you want a rower that's built to last. Look at the frame and parts warranty and read the reviews regarding durability so your money goes toward a worthy investment.

FAQs About Compact Rowing Machines

What is a better rowing machine: magnetic or air?

One isn't necessarily better than the other. Both magnetic and air resistance work to provide a great workout. However, magnetic resistance is quieter than air resistance. If you're looking for the quietest experience, you'll be happiest with a magnetic rowing machine.

Will a rowing machine flatten my stomach?

Yes, a rowing machine engages the core to build core muscle, and a high-intensity rowing workout burns lots of calories. The combination of burning calories while toning your core on a rowing machine will definitely contribute to a flatter stomach.

Is rowing a better workout than spinning?

Rowing is a better full-body workout than spinning as it engages more muscle groups while you exercise. Spinning is primarily leg-focused. You can get excellent workouts with both, but a high-intensity workout on a rower will burn more calories in an hour than a high-intensity workout on a bike.