Everybody knew that a Peloton rower was coming. In fact, it’s been rumored for so long that even chief product officer Tom Cortese told The Verge the rower was the “worst-kept secret on Earth.” So now that it’s actually in my living room, it all feels a tad anticlimactic.
What can I say? It’s exactly what I thought a Peloton rower would be. Peloton’s stamp is all over the product design, from the red accents and the ubiquitous logo to the 23-inch HD adjustable touchscreen. This isn’t a bad thing. Peloton’s hardware has always been slick and better-suited to your home than the equipment you’ll find at the gym. This rower is much prettier than the one in my building’s fitness center, though I slightly preferred the more minimalist style of the Hydrow Wave for my living room’s aesthetic.
The Row is big. It has a footprint of 8 feet by 2 feet and weighs 156 pounds. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my NYC apartment, and it takes up a huge chunk of my living room. It can be stored vertically, but you still need to make sure it can lay flat with 2 feet of clearance on all sides of the device for safety. Vertical storage also requires using the included wall mount. That might be an issue if you’ve got a grumpy landlord who doesn’t want you drilling holes in your wall.
Otherwise, Peloton had some nice little design flourishes. For starters, the seat is plusher than most rowers I’ve used. My tailbone is thankful. There’s also a handy water bottle and phone holder — though I wish it was big enough to hold a tablet. Some days I just want to row out my frustration with the overly long will-they-won’t-they storylines in my K-dramas.
The device is designed for people between the heights of 4 feet, 11 inches and 6 feet, 5 inches and up to 300 pounds. I’m a smaller person, so I can’t speak to how well the Row supports people on the upper end of the height range. I imagine you might have some issues if you’re on the tall side — perhaps comfortably extending your legs — but unlike the Tread, which had a tray taller people could knock their knees into when doing high-knee warmups, the Row doesn’t have that many things you can bump into.
Peloton’s strength is in its content, and there, the Row also delivers pretty much what you’d expect. The best part so far has been the Form Assist feature. When you first set up the rower, there’s a roughly five-minute calibration process so the sensors in the seat and handle can learn your individual stroke. Once that’s done, a little figure in the upper left corner of the screen matches your movements. If you muck up your form, the areas where you need to improve will light up in red.
Learning to row can be tricky, and it isn’t as intuitive as running on a treadmill or pedaling on a stationary bike. Proper rowing form has four components: the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. There are a zillion YouTube videos with fitness experts expounding on these, but the gist is you move your legs, body, then arms, and then reverse it. If you’re unfamiliar with rowing, it takes getting used to, and if you’ve never received any sort of instruction, you’re probably doing it wrong.
You’re probably doing it wrong
Form feedback is still nascent in connected fitness tech, but it’s nice to see that Peloton’s made the effort to include it on the Row (especially since it wasn’t really a thing with its Guide strength training system). After a workout, you get some handy breakdowns of your form and metrics to understand what you need to do better. I’ve always wondered if I’m doing it right, and now, if Peloton is to be believed, I know I need to stop jumping the gun with my body during the drive portion of a stroke.
The main workout screen includes strokes per minute and personal pace targets. You’re prompted to select your skill level during setup, which then determines what pace ranges work best for you during intervals. These two metrics are standard for rowers, but it’s always good to see a recommended range (even if you completely ignore them at the end of a long class).
I haven’t had a chance to go ham on all the different rowing workout types just yet. But the 20-minute hip-hop row class I did take was neither too easy nor too hard. The class selection was understandably limited this past week, but that should fix itself in the coming weeks as the library expands. Classes range from five to 45 minutes. Like other Peloton equipment, there’ll be an option between instructed rows, row bootcamp (a mix of rowing, HIIT, and strength intervals), scenic rows, and just row.
But while the hardware and content have so far aligned with my expectations, the price didn’t. Perhaps I am a fool. I expected it to be costly, maybe around $2,500, which is not far off from other connected rowers. But no. The Row costs $3,195 — more if you buy accessories like mats, dumbbells, or a heart rate band. (Accessory bundles start at $75 and go up to $375.) The price includes delivery and installation but not the $44 monthly subscription. Peloton does market itself as a premium brand, but that’s way more than the competition. For context, the Hydrow Wave costs $1,495, and the regular Hydrow costs $2,495. Other at-home connected rowers like Aviron and Ergatta are similarly priced. Meanwhile, a regular Concept2 rower is $990.
Granted, pricing may change. Lord knows Peloton subscriptions and hardware costs have been all over the place this past year as the company attempts to get its business in order. Even so, this is one of the most expensive at-home rowers on the market.
Preorders for the Row start today for US customers who can get past the sticker shock, with shipping expected in December. In the meantime, you can mosey on down to one of 18 retail locations to get a trial. Peloton says that’ll expand to more showrooms later this year.
Photography by Victoria Song / The Verge