Getting a reliable rowing machine under £500 allows you to exercise your entire body, from neck to toe, so that you can build muscle mass and increase your endurance. However, you have to pick a quality, comfortable, durable rower that helps you reach your fitness goals.
That sounds intimidating for the price range.
It almost sounds impossible.
That’s what this guide is here for. After reading the “what to look for in a rower” section below – which takes just two minutes – you’ll find out how to get that perfect rowing machine for your needs.
In the next session, you’ll discover how we judge fitness equipment according to people’s goals to recommend them the best indoor rowers.
Follow our advice, and you’ll end up with the perfect affordable rowing machine for your needs.
What to look for in a rower under £500
The main factor that should influence your choice is your goals.
Now, there are different types of goals. For example, if the price is an issue for you – and it is since you’re looking at rowers below £500 – you need a comfortable rowing machine that lasts.
Here’s what that means:
- Quality materials like steel, aluminium, or iron for the frame. You don’t want to mess with cheap plastics.
- Comfortable ergonomic design: a contoured and cushioned seat, grippy handlebars, and anti-skid footplates
If price is an issue, you’re most likely dealing with limited space. So from that point of view, you need:
- A rowing machine that fits your home’s dimensions
- A foldable and portable rower
- A very silent rowing machine if you’re sharing the house with other people and exercising at what they consider inopportune moments
Now you have to consider your goals and current fitness level.
|Level/ goal||Weight loss||Strength training||Increasing your fitness level over time||Just staying active|
|Beginner||Air-resistance rower||Magnetic rower||You need all the bells and whistles, including computer training programmes, app connectivity, training according to preset goals.
You also need an ergonomic rower that allows you to work out for longer and minimises recovery times.
|You need a standard rower that functions well and doesn’t hurt your body.|
|Intermediate||Air and magnetic resistance||High magnetic resistance rower|
|Advanced||Air and magnetic resistance||High magnetic resistance rower|
Let’s explain the table above.
Magnetic resistance allows you to set the tension so that you can challenge your muscles as much or as little as you want to. Besides, this type of resistance also allows you to slow down/ accelerate your movements regardless of that tension.
Therefore you can:
- Push slowly through a high resistance: strength training
- Push slowly through low resistance: beginner cardio
- Push fast through high resistance: strength and high-impact cardio
- Push fast through low resistance: aerobic training
Air resistance can’t be set, so that means you’ll have to push faster to achieve more resistance. Basically, you can only:
- Push slowly through low resistance: beginner cardio
- Push fast through high resistance: strength and high-impact cardio
Alternatively, you can choose a rower that boasts a combination of air and magnetic resistance for a more intense workout.
Best Home Rowers under £500 Reviewed
Now that you know how to choose according to your goals, let’s see how you should judge real-life rowing machines:
Dripex Magnetic Rowing Machine: best versatile rower for beginners and intermediates
➽【Original & Ergonomic Design】: Dripex...
➽【15 Magnetic Resistance Adjustment】: Using...
➽【Super Silent Aluminum Sliding Frame】:...
Dripex is a famous brand in fitness equipment for home use because it produces quality, ergonomic machines that last. This rowing machine from them fits the bill because it’s comfortable, easy to use, and versatile.
Firstly, the ergonomic build stands out through a very contoured seat with a 3D design. This slightly concave construction aligns your hips and keeps them open at the correct angle throughout your workout. In combination with the comfy padding, this type of construction helps you avoid chronic back pain and also tailbone pain after your workouts.
The handles are also ergonomic because they’re non-slip and contoured. Thus, you won’t need to squeeze them too hard or force your arms into an uncomfortable position. The quick anti-skid pedals are also highly secure and promote natural movements.
Bonus: You can tilt the screen however you need to. So, you won’t have to strain your neck to peek at those stats during your exercise.
This ergonomic design has a substantial advantage, apart from saving you possible pain:
It allows you to exercise for longer so that you can reach your fitness goals faster.
Besides, the 15-level magnetic resistance is very intuitive so that you can genuinely reach those objectives seamlessly:
- The first five levels: aerobic
- Following five levels: weight loss
- Last five levels: strength training
Remember: While you have many resistance levels, Dripex’s flywheel weighs just 3 kg. So, as some customers have noticed, the resistance you’re getting is best for beginners and intermediates.
To top that off, this Dripex rower is foldable. Even the screen folds to help you store this rowing machine in tighter places. The only problem is that you can only place the rower in a vertical position.
So now you probably think that foldable fitness equipment isn’t that high-quality.
But in Dripex’s case, you’d be wrong. This home rower boasts a double-aluminium railway that’s very sturdy and durable.
On the downside, many customers have complained about Dripex’s control panel. The screen is faulty sometimes, and other times it can display inaccurate stats. However, if you’re not interested in keeping track of your stats like they’re gospel, then you can easily go without that LCD monitor.
V-fit Tornado Air Rower: best for quick weight loss
- Club style, speed proportionate air resistance chain drive...
- Contoured polyurethan anatomically designed seat with...
- Pivoting, oversize PVC footplates with two-position mount...
V-fit Tornado Air Rower has many differences compared to Dripex’s Rowing Machine. But let’s start with one similarity:
Both these rowers’ seats are highly comfortable. The Tornado Air Rower sports a contoured PU seat that’s anatomically designed and large – that way, you can work out for hours without triggering your pressure points.
Oh, and they’re both foldable.
This is where the differences begin.
Firstly, the resistance: the Tornado features air resistance instead of magnetic resistance, and that means you will have to push & pull faster to increase your resistance.
Basically, at the highest levels of intensity, you’re getting both strength training and cardio.
That’s a massive advantage for weight loss, especially if you want a rower for HIIT. However, it can be a disadvantage if you wish to strength train.
So, this rower doesn’t allow you to set a very high resistance and push against it slowly.
Secondly, the footplates are pivoting and oversized, featuring a two-position mount. That means you have more flexibility even if the deep-heel design keeps your feet supported.
Another difference is the maximum user weight. The Tornado only supports up to 115 kg – but those five kilograms can make a massive difference if you’re not in the weight category.
Besides, fork out about £100 more for the price difference. And be prepared for a slightly noisier machine than the Dripex. Even if the Tornado is not what we’d call excessively noisy, it’s not as silent as the Dripex either.
JLL® Ventus 2 Air Resistance: best scalable rower for all fitness goals
- 8 Levels of magnetic resistance combined with air resistance
- LCD Monitor: Time (mins:secs), Time 500M (mins:secs),...
- Compact, lightweight and foldable. The inbuilt wheels on the...
JLL Ventus 2 is more expensive than the two rowing machines above, but it packs a punch. Every last feature this rower boasts explains this price difference, such as:
It combines air resistance with magnetic resistance. Basically, you can make your workouts extremely hard on this rowing machine. You can challenge your muscles with different exercises, such as strength, cardio, and HIIT.
That means you can set different fitness goals and reach all of them faster than an average home rower.
Another difference is that the LCD monitor has more functions, plus it’s very accurate. Apart from the usual time, calorie, distance, and strokes, this monitor tracks:
- The time you need to complete 500 metres
- Your pulse
- Total strokes
These stats are practical for adjusting your workout to what your body’s telling you. Also, at the end of each session, you’ll get a more clear perspective on your progress.
To top that off, the JLL Ventus 2’s monitor also displays the clock, calendar, and temperature.
Just like the two rowers above, Ventus 2 is also foldable and easy to transport thanks to its in-built wheels. However, this machine is heavier at 34.7 kg, thanks to its alloy steel frame. Arguably, this sturdier construction also translates into an extended life for the Ventus 2 rower compared to lighter rowing machines.
And here’s another difference regarding materials:
Ventus 2 features a contoured foam padded seat. On the other hand, Tornado’s chair is made from PU, while Dripex’s is from PU feather. By comparison, memory foam is more resilient and contouring, although arguably less firm.
Surprise bonus: Ventus 2 features a tablet holder so that you can stay entertained throughout your workout session or follow an online routine.
JTX Freedom Air Rowing Machine: best feature-packed rower for heavy people
The JTX Freedom and the JLL Ventus 2 are in the same price range, and both feature air & magnetic resistance. So, the JTX Freedom allows you to challenge yourself a lot too. Push the magnetic resistance to the eighth level and row as fast as possible for a draining workout.
However, the main difference between these two rowers is that JTX Freedom supports people up to 135 kg, and that’s arguably thanks to its iron construction.
Beware: this iron construction means that JTX Freedom weighs 40 kg, so it’s the heaviest in this review.
That said, JTX Freedom is a really comfortable indoor rower for home use. As you’d expect, the seat is cushioned and contoured, and the handlebars are non-slip.
But there’s another advantage:
The footplates boast a 7-point adjustable design. This design helps you keep the proper form throughout your workouts regardless of your height and movements. As such, you can exercise for longer and avoid injuries.
The computer console is excellent too because it helps you exercise according to the targets you set. As such, you can fill in goals based on:
You can even race against the computer using the race mode.
Besides, this computer displays watts, an arguably better way of tracking your effort than calories burned.
Bonus: The Freedom Rower gives you access to a free customised training plan from JTX’s in-house trainer. Besides, JTX has a fully-packed workout video database so that you can set and track your goals as best as you can.
Basically, the Air Freedom Rower is a dream-come-true for people who are extremely serious about their fitness.
Psst: you can use JTX Freedom outdoors because it’s self-powered.
Bluefin Foldable Rowing Machine: best for Kinomap
- SMOOTH BELT DRIVE: Simulates natural rowing motion. Feel the...
- MAGNETIC RESISTANCE & BRAKING SYSTEM: 8 x levels of tension...
- SMARTPHONE APP: The rower is compatible with fitness app so...
This Bluefin Fitness Blade Rower has one advantage that makes it stand out: it has Kinomap compatibility. That way, you can access thousands of workout videos, take part in classes, use structured routines, and so forth.
This feature is incredible for people who need workout videos to keep their motivation up. It’s also of great use for beginners who may need some guidance to find what works best for them.
Watch out, though: Many customers complain about problems connecting to the Kinomap app, and that’s probably because they don’t have the right operating system. If you decide to get this rower, read more about that issue on the company’s website here.
Besides, Bluefin Blade is a very comfortable rower.
Its belt drive is very smooth, so rowing on it feels like actually being on the water. You also get a 10-degree incline that increases your resistance.
Speaking of that, the Blade features magnetic resistance with eight levels of tension control. That way, you can choose and adjust the resistance however you feel like it.
Warning: Even the maximum resistance level isn’t very challenging for advanced rowers.
The computer is accurate too but limited in stats compared to the Freedom Air Rower and JLL’s Ventus 2. So, you’ll only know your primary stats like calories, distance, stroke, and time.
That said, the Blade is an ergonomic machine with grippy handlebars, anti-slip footplates and a cushiony seat. These characteristics ensure that you can work out for more extended periods without any pain.
Now that you’ve read this entire piece, you know that choosing the right rower starts with understanding your current condition and your goals perfectly. So:
- Dripex Magnetic: Best versatile rower for beginners and intermediates
- V-fit Tornado: Best for quick weight loss
- JLL® Ventus 2: Best scalable rower for all fitness goals
- JTX Freedom: Best feature-packed rower for heavy people
- Bluefin Fitness BLADE: Best for Kinomap (motivation, beginners, keeping track of your stats)