I’ve bought many different things throughout my life, and I never thought that a piece of exercise equipment would take the top spot for the best thing I’ve ever bought.
Now, I hate exercising, but I realize that I have to add it to my schedule since I sit in front of a computer most of my life. Could I go for daily walks instead? Sure, I could. However, going out for a walk in wintery or rainy weather gives me an excuse to put it off. Also, if I’m walking 30 minutes away from home and an important call or email comes in, I can likely only address it properly when I walk back home. With the Concept 2 RowErg, I have no excuses for putting off exercise.
If you don’t have the same weak willpower as I do, I still want to share my experience with the RowErg, and why I think everyone should own this machine, especially if you have a gym membership that is barely utilized.
The Concept 2 RowErg comes in a pretty large box, which weighs around 50 lbs. You will likely need an SUV, truck or hatchback to fit it unless you take it out of the box for transport.
Once the box is opened, you’ll find that the machine is securely packed inside and almost ready to go.
You’ll find the machine, instruction manual, screws, and a special screwdriver to get the machine set up for first-time use within 10 minutes of opening the box.
Installation was much more straightforward than I expected. First, the three metal pieces shown above are secured to make a triangular shape. Next, you’ll flip the machine over and attach the triangular stand. I did this by myself, but having help will make it go faster. I recommend using the screwdriver and not an electric drill to prevent stripping the screws. You can now flip the machine back over and connect the rear portion of it, which has a seat on rails, to the front portion with the wheel by aligning the rear portion that drops into a metal bar and stays secured by gravity, and you are good to go.
Optional: You can check for any firmware updates for the monitor. There was a firmware update for my machine, and I was able to download the software, load the firmware files onto a formatted USB drive and update everything in around 15 minutes on a Windows computer.
The Concept2 is a pretty long machine since it has to accommodate tall users as well. The overall length comes in at around 96 inches or 8 feet. The width is around 24 inches or 2 feet. So while it isn’t very wide, you do have to have a long area or space to set it up. The machine can be folded when not in use, but I prefer to have it always ready to go.
The rowing handle doesn’t feel heavy due to the hollowed-out design in the middle of it, and the grips are comfortable to hold. However, rowing gloves are still probably a good idea to have.
There is a holder for the handle when it isn’t being used, which is a nice touch to have.
Phone & Tablet Holder
Since it can be challenging to get into the mood to exercise, having something to watch or keep you company is always a good idea. There is a holder for a phone or tablet that is situated just below the PM5 monitor. It is adjustable to accommodate a traditional-sized phone all the way up to a tablet. I use my Samsung Z Fold 4, and it fits perfectly once adjusted. If you are using a fitness app or rowing app, you’re covered too.
Since I haven’t used any of the previous Concept2 rowing machines before, I’m unfamiliar with how they compare to the newest PM5 monitor. My take on the PM5 monitor is that it gets the job done but without any frills or attention to a nice-looking user interface. Yes, information is nicely divided so you can get an idea of stroke rate, distance travelled, the time elapsed, splits, etc., but it’s against a basic LED display. What would have been nice is a high-resolution display with those stats and icons like up or down arrows near the stats to indicate upward or downward trends. I find this motivates me more when I can see simple graphics like that at a glance.
There are buttons under the monitor to see different information presets and units on the fly, which is handy. One improvement will be if the presets are cycled through for those who like to see multiple information without needing to break their cycling rhythm by pressing a button. A minor complaint in the overall scheme of things.
There are also inputs at the back of the PM5 monitor for ethernet cables, USB type A and USB type B.
The Concept2 was my first introduction to rowing if it counts that I’m not on the water. I wasn’t sure how quickly I would pick it up, but within a few minutes, I was in a pretty good rhythm after consulting a few YouTube videos on the proper rowing technique. The manual that comes with Concept2 does go over the basics as well.
I found the rowing experience to be very smooth. This machine is perfectly built for rowing. The seat slides effortlessly on the guide rails without any hitches or bumps.
The pull handle has a decently wide grip area, and the pulls are so smooth. The seat isn’t really plush, but it doesn’t feel too hard, either. The footrest area can accommodate the largest show sizes if needed, and it straps my feet down quickly and securely.
I sometimes hit the front of the seat against the back of my ankle because I got sloppy and didn’t push back early enough, which is a user mistake. For reference, I am 5’11 or around 180 cm, and I can easily extend my legs fully on the rail.
Since my hands aren’t used to rowing motion, I did develop some calluses after my first two rowing attempts. Buying some cheap rowing gloves stopped that issue, though.
I tried to put the machine on a large rug to prevent damage to the floor, which resulted in the entire machine and mat sliding backwards until I hit a wall behind me. I was pulling so aggressively on the handle that each pull was shifting the rug back. Installing a rubber sheet under the rug fixed the issue. So keep that in mind if you won’t be putting the machine on a hard surface. The legs have rubber feet on them to prevent slipping on hard surfaces.
Overall, the rowing experience was polished and made me thankful that I purchased a higher-quality rowing machine instead of one of the cheaper options. If something was off on a cheaper machine, I could blame the machine for some things, but since nothing is off with the Concept2 rower, I only have myself to blame. Plus, the rowing experience is so polished that all I have to focus on now is perfectly my rowing.
The Concept2 rower allows you to have an easy or challenging rowing experience. There is a damper adjustment slider that can be set from levels 1 through 10, which limits the amount of air that is allowed in the flywheel chamber. From what I’ve found online, a setting of around 4 to 5 is best to simulate the resistance you would feel on the water, so I have mine set to 5. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know. I would love to hear from experienced rowers about which setting is best to simulate rowing on the water.
Reliability & Maintenance
It’s way too early in my journey to comment on reliability, but from what I’ve read online from multiple sources, these machines are rock solid when it comes to reliability. This is evidenced by their use in gyms all around the world. The manual mentions occasional maintenance is required after a certain amount of meters are rowed, but maintenance only involves oiling the chain link if necessary and inspecting the machine for damage.
Given my experience with it for about a month, everything still glides effortlessly, and there are no signs of looseness, breakdown or creaking. While it isn’t a very heavy machine, it still seems quite solid and sturdy. It also comes with a limited 2-year and 5-year warranty, more information here on the Concept2 website.
My Results So Far
I try to row around three times per week on Monday, Wednesday & Friday, with weekends off. I aim to row for 2000 meters each time, and I can accomplish that task in around 9 minutes. I know many people aim for a 7-minute time or lower, but I think I need way more time to work up to that level of fitness since I lead a primarily sedentary lifestyle due to my work.
However, I have noticed some weight loss and increased muscle definition in my arms, upper back and calves. While this machine doesn’t look or seem like it would benefit so many areas of the body, I can easily vouch that it does work in all the sites I mentioned and probably more when the correct rowing technique is used. I also noticed that my posture seems better too now. I tend to stand and sit more upright. Maybe due to the end of the rowing stroke when my arms and shoulder are pulled back?
I prefer to be on this machine than in a gym or another other exercise equipment I’ve owned. I like low-impact activity, and I used to have a recumbent bike for that reason. While the recumbent bike was great, and I can quickly work up a sweat, it didn’t do anything for my arms or upper body. With the Concept2, I get an all-body benefit for the same use of my time.
Is The Concept2 RowErg Worth It?
At around $1000 USD, this isn’t a decision to take lightly when the cost of the Concept2 RowErg can cover a few years of a gym membership, depending on the gym you choose. I’ve tried various machines in my life, but I really do believe I will settle on this one for the rest of my life. I like that there is no setup or adjustment after the initial setup. I can just get on it and go. For someone who lacks motivation like myself to exercise, it’s a low-barrier machine to get on and use. It also helps that I noticed changes to my body within the first two weeks of using it.
I realize that I haven’t said any negative about this machine yet. If I had to pick something, I’d say the price is considerable, but when I use it, and I’m rewarded with a smooth experience, maybe the price doesn’t seem all that high, considering I won’t be buying another exercise machine in the future. I still recommend that you seek out reviews from others, who are more qualified regarding exercise equipment, but from where I’m standing, this is the best piece of exercise equipment I’ve owned, and I do not regret my purchase in the least.
Some links may be referral links, which means I earn a small commission for qualifying sales. There is no additional cost to you.