It’s fair to say that I don’t have a very solid relationship with fitness. Even at my best, exercise is always something I’ve tolerated rather than enjoyed, so it doesn’t take much to throw me off the wagon. Whether it’s major life changes, lockdown-induced gym closures, summer heat, or, in the latest instance, broken equipment.
This time I’m really trying to not fall into my old sedentary habits. My upcoming vacation involves an activity with a very strict weight limit and a very expensive deposit. To safely put as much distance between myself and that figure, I’ve been putting my home gym to good use.
Then my rowing machine broke and I had to scramble to find something that could replace it. Fortunately, I’ve just got hold of the Echelon Ex-3 Connect bike ($600 on Amazon (opens in new tab)), which is proving to be a great substitute until my replacement rowing machine arrives. Read on to find out what happened when I swapped my rowing machine with one of the best exercise bikes.
I swapped my rowing machine for an exercise bike — here's what happened
Rowing has been a great help in picking up my fitness in recent months. I’m getting a whole body workout (more or less) throughout my session, with a mix of resistance and cardio training, and it always feels like I’m working hard. Plus it’s a little more casual than running, and means I can do as much or as little as I like — and don’t even need to wear shoes while I do it. (If you are a runner, check out the best running shoes on the market here). Here's how to lose weight using a rowing machine, the best rowing machine workouts to try, and what happened when this fitness writer rowed a mile a day for a week.
But some internal component decided to break, meaning the belt on my rowing machine has zero resistance and keeps snagging on something inside. The machine is thankfully still under warranty, so getting a replacement (or repair job) wasn’t an issue, but it did mean finding a new way to kick off my daily regime in the interim.
Fortunately, I’d already incorporated the Echelon bike into my regime. It was already a great replacement for running, which I’ve never particularly enjoyed, and meant I didn’t have to leave the house — or drag my dog along with me.
It seemed like the obvious choice to replace my relatively brief rowing sessions. Cycling may not be able to offer the same kind of workout, but I figured any substitute is better than doing nothing at all.
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to exercising. I just want to turn up, tune into a playlist, and focus on a specific end goal. The same was true with the Echelon, with me preferring to stick to freestyle mode and cycle at a consistent 20+ miles per hour — only upping the resistance when I felt it was getting too easy.
Yet without my rowing machine, I decided to mix things up. Like rivals Peloton, Echelon offers a series of classes and workouts you can access live or on-demand — all part of a premium subscription. Those classes vary in terms of length, level of ability, and what kind of workout the host is going to have you do.
I don't think time on the bike will ever replace rowing, but checking into the classes is making me mix things up. So far the classes have included hill work, speed intervals, and out-of-saddle riding, all of which have worked a bunch of different muscles than my previous regime. And boy can I feel that in my legs.
Not to mention that Echelon also has a range of classes that aren’t reliant on its connected equipment. Frankly, a little structure to my weight training is going to be a good thing in the long term, certainly compared to my usual routine of making it up as I go.
After a few weeks on the bike, I've realized I need to have more structure in my workout routine. It’ll be great to get rowing again, but I probably should start varying what I’m working on and when. Whether that’s to shed these few extra pounds or to push my fitness level beyond the current status quo.
But I’ll save that for when my replacement rowing machine arrives. Until then, I’ve got enough to keep me going, and hopefully, it means my neglected upper body muscles won’t be quite so angry when I send them back to work.
Read what happened when our Homes Editor went from hating exercise, to buying a Peloton. And here's what happened when our Deals Editor tried an air bike and found it was the most brutal piece of cardio equipment. You can also read what happened when we asked Peloton if you can do the Peloton rowing workouts on your own rowing machine.