Are you starting up a home gym? Want to buy the best of the best to ensure your money is spent wisely? Wondering where to begin?

Starting up your own home gym can be daunting. The array of options out there, in terms of gym equipment, is staggering and can often become a little overwhelming. So how can you know what to choose?

Here, I take a look at two of the most popular rowing machines, WaterRower vs Concept 2, playing them off against each other, to decide which I prefer. This way, I hope to narrow down your options, so you can make the best choice for you.

What’s the Story Behind Rowing Machines?

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to picking out home gym equipment. There are ellipticals, running machines, weights, lat bar pulls, and the like. So why would a rowing machine make all the difference to your workout regime?

Well, in all honesty, this is one of the only machines that activates every muscle in your body. You’ve got the core, legs, arms, and glutes, all working simultaneously alongside your heart, too. This means that not only are you building strength everywhere, but you’re also getting an effective cardio workout to build your stamina.

With many workouts, there’s always the risk of injury, as some exercise can often put a lot of strain on your body. But, due to the low impact element of rowing machines, your joints aren’t threatened by this. This makes a rowing machine the perfect companion for anyone of almost any age, even if you’re older, or unfit, and require some light exercise.

In effect, this means that as long as you’re not bodybuilding and are looking to lose weight or get leaner, this may be all you need! You could simply purchase a rowing machine, and nothing else, and your fitness levels would improve.

Let’s take a look at some of the great ways you can use a rowing machine to get fitter:

What Is the WaterRower?

When we compare the WaterRower vs Concept 2, the WaterRower’s ethos is to provide attractive pieces to fit within your home, so they can take pride of place. No need to concern yourself about storing it away—although it’s easy to do so with its compact frame—simply leave it out on display.

It uses water resistance to mimic the sound and feel of rowing, creating a smooth ride. This improves your focus and motivation, by limiting the potential distractions surrounding you.

Let’s take a closer look at the best, and worst, elements of the WaterRower, when we compare the WaterRower vs Concept 2:

WaterRower Pros:

  • Easily storable and compact.
  • Great aesthetic, with a wood finish.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Performance monitor.
  • Scuff-proof railings.
  • Absorbs sounds and vibrations.
  • Minimal noise.
  • Limited maintenance required.
  • Register for a 3-year warranty for parts, and 5 years for the frame.
  • Lovely sound of rushing water produced when in use.

WaterRower Cons:

  • Requires the water to be purified every so often.


What Is the Concept 2?

Concept 2 was first introduced to the world by Olympians, Dick and Pete Dreissigacker, in 1976. In 1981, they came up with their first indoor rower, which went on to become the best selling rowing machine on the market.

Not only do they produce oars and rowing machines, but they also specialize in other ergs (air resistant products), such as bicycles and ski machines. Their aim is to make these sports accessible to the masses, as they’re absolutely fantastic ways to get fitter at home.

But what is the real difference between the WaterRower vs Concept 2? Well, unlike the WaterRower, the Concept 2 rowing machines harness the power of air to create their resistance. This provides a smooth ride, which you can tailor to yourself—you can speed up when you want, and slow down when you need to.

I want to give the WaterRower vs Concept 2 a fair fight, so let’s see what I think about it in further detail:

Concept 2 Pros:

  • Scratch-protection, durable finish.
  • Money-back guarantee within 30 days of purchase.
  • 2-year warranty on parts, and 5 years on the frame.
  • Air resistance.
  • Nice height, so you won’t feel cramped in a gym setting and your knees won’t be as strained.
  • Performance monitor.
  • Nickel-plated chain, for durability.
  • Easily storable and mobile.
  • Adjustable flywheel airflow.
  • Smooth operation.
  • Easy to assemble.

Concept 2 Cons:

  • Air rowers can be noisier than water rowers.
  • Not as strong.



WaterRower vs Concept 2: Who’s the Winner?

Now that we know a little more about the two brands, WaterRower vs Concept 2, let’s break it down. Below, I have listed the key elements that I think a rowing machine should adhere to, and we’ll see who takes first place.


Both the WaterRower vs Concept 2 are known for their durability—they’re praised for it by happy customers. Both are made using metal aluminum and steel rails, which limits the possibility of scratches and marks.

However, I think the one that really trumps it here is the WaterRower. Made with sustainable wooden resources, their products are built to last. The wood also absorbs the vibrations made, as a little bonus, so you can rest assured that you’ll get a really smooth, quiet ride.

Also, through the use of water resistance, this actually limits the strain put on the flywheel mechanism within the machine. This way, the mechanism will last longer, so your money will definitely be put to good use.

Who wins? WaterRower.


The type of resistance used when we compare the WaterRower vs Concept 2 is probably their biggest difference. WaterRower uses water, and Concept 2 uses air. So which one’s better?

Well, as we’ve already seen in this WaterRower vs Concept 2 review, the use of water actually increases durability by limiting the strain put on the inner mechanism. That said, both air and water allow you to tailor the workout to you, so you can row at your own pace, increasing the resistance the faster you go.

But air rowers are a lot noisier than water ones. In fact, the WaterRower not only provides a smooth operation, but it actually mimics the sound of oars in water, which many people love. Both resistances are great, but when it comes to less noise, water wins.

Who wins? WaterRower.


When putting together a home gym or workout station, space is often a big factor. Most people don’t have a spare room lying around to house huge pieces of equipment. That’s why storability is a key factor when it comes to any machinery.

Most rowing machines these days are foldable, so they can be wheeled out of sight until the next use. This makes it ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a room specifically made for working out, and instead uses their rowing machine in front of the TV, for example.

When we look at the WaterRower vs Concept 2, both rowing machines are foldable and storable. The Concept 2 can even be separated into two parts, which means both can be removed from any space easily.

So I guess it’s mainly down to their overall size which will be the decider between the  WaterRower vs Concept 2, here. In this respect, the WaterRower is much slimmer, and folds smaller than the Concept 2, making it the clear winner.

I think what really sets the WaterRower apart, though, is its beautiful design. Due to the wooden exterior, it acts as almost a decoration piece, and wouldn’t even look out of place in a study or workroom. So you might not even want to store away the WaterRower.

Who wins? WaterRower.

Mimics Rowing

Rowing on water is really very different from rowing on a machine. This is because the rowing machine doesn’t account for the movement of the boat, which requires a lot of core strength. It also doesn’t require you to reset your body into the start position after each stroke.

Although the WaterRower uses water resistance to mimic the sound and feel of rowing in water, the Concept 2 nips this in the bud. How? Well, they have their Dynamic Indoor Rower, which has been specifically designed to do this.

Made for rowing athletes, the Concept 2 Dynamic Rower limits the movement of your body weight through each stroke. This makes it the closest comparison to real rowing.

Who wins? Concept 2.

Customer Service

One of the biggest elements of customer service is the warranty. Why? Well, the longer the warranty, the better faith the company clearly have in their product, invoking trust in the customer.

In this regard, both companies excel, with a maximum 5-year warranty. So when it comes to customer service, we have to look at the other end of the spectrum—the post-sales support.

Concept 2 is actually known for this, and customers have recommended them as a true connoisseur of customer service. However, both companies provide excellent service here, providing almost unlimited information on how to care for your rower.

So then I guess it comes back down to the warranty as the overall decider between the WaterRower vs Concept 2. Concept 2 has just a 2-year warranty on parts, whereas WaterRower has a 3-year one. That settles it then.

Who wins? WaterRower.


The Final Verdict: WaterRower vs Concept 2

When we take a look at the WaterRower vs Concept 2, both companies and products are really great. With two Olympians backing Concept 2, it really is a great product. This makes Concept 2 a fantastic, trustworthy brand who provide really well-constructed products.

But, when we take a look at our list above, it’s clear who the winner is—WaterRower. In all honesty, if I had to choose, I personally would stick to the WaterRower as the winner.

I think what gives the WaterRower the edge is its flawless design. Not only is it smaller than the Concept 2, making it easily storable, but the beautiful wooden exterior makes it attractive enough that you probably won’t want to store it away.

Also, the use of water resistance creates a smoother and quieter ride than air. The noise reduction is reduced by the use of wood, which absorbs the vibrations and sounds.

For a really durable, effective machine that will last you for years to come, you can trust the WaterRower. I hope I’ve made the choice a little easier for you.


Johnny Gallagher

Johnny Gallagher is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist.

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