The best rowing machines for your home gym have certainly come a long way since the 13th century (opens in new tab), and the Aviron Impact Series Rower (opens in new tab) proves that nowadays, you don’t even need a boat to enjoy the open water.
Monthly Membership: $25/month
Machine Height/Weight Capacity: 6 foot 7 inches / 397 pounds
Display: 22-inch HD touchscreen
Resistance Levels: 16
Dimensions: 97 x 43 x 21 inches (unfolded), 62 x 54 x 21 inches (folded)
Weight: 97 pounds
Warranty: 2 years (parts and touchscreen), 10 years (frame)
The Aviron Impact Series Rower isn’t an ordinary rowing machine, as indicated by the eye-catching 22-inch HD touchscreen affixed to the flywheel. And that’s just the start. This smart rower does a darn good job of simulating an actual outdoor rowing experience — right from the comfort of your home gym. Plus, it’s loaded to the gills with interactive games, guided programs, and virtual rowing experiences that’ll keep your whole family busy for hours, and healthy for years to come. After all, when a rowing machine is this much fun, it’s easy to forget you’re getting a full-body workout with every single sweat session.
Most rowing machines have the footprint of a full-size kayak, but the Aviron Impact Series Rower features a unique folding design that’s easy to tuck out of the way when not in use. Pound for pound, it’s a premium cardio machine that’s worth the splurge, especially if you’ve already given your old gym membership the snip. Read our Aviron Impact Series Rower review to find out more.
Aviron Impact Series Rower review: Price and availability
Aviron offers two different rowing machines on their website: the Impact Series and the Tough Series. The Impact Series Rower I tested has an MRSP of $2,199, whereas the Tough Series Rower costs $2,499. What do you get for that extra $300? A non-foldable design, for one, but with reinforced construction that can handle up to 507 pounds (as opposed to 397); lumbar support; and adjustable hip/leg width in the foot pads.
Both Android-powered machines are equipped with the same 22-inch touchscreen; 4GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity; a 2MP built-in camera; and two 2-watt speakers, along with 16 varying levels of resistance — maxing out at 100 pounds.
Aviron Impact Series Rower review: Design and ergonomics
Aviron Impact Series is equipped with a 22-inch HD touchscreen, which can be pivoted up and down, but not side to side. There’s a sleep button on top, a headphone jack underneath, volume controls on the right, and an Ethernet jack in the back. (When Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t an option, presumably.) There are also touch controls for adjusting the resistance on the fly, along with a discrete Aviron symbol at the bottom of the screen that acts as a home button. At the top of the screen, you’ll find a webcam for taking profile pictures and “victory snaps,” along with a mic that might come into play with future software updates. (Aviron has tentative plans to use the webcam and mic for live instruction and voice commands, similar to NordicTrack’s cardio machine offerings.)
While the dual 2-watt speakers get the job done, I recommend using Bluetooth headphones for a more immersive experience, especially in Virtual mode. And while I didn’t have a heart rate monitor to pair with the rower, this additional compatibility is a welcome addition when it comes to collecting precious fitness data; measuring your perceived rate of exertion is one of the best ways to pace yourself during any given workout.
Beneath the usual flywheel and handlebar you’ll find adjustable foot pads and the usual monorail-style seating, complete with nylon straps to keep your feet snugly tethered in place. (Note: the more expensive Tough Series lets you adjust foot pad width, which is fairly unique among most mechanical rowers. That model also offers optional lumbar support with Aviron’s $249 kit, which may be useful to anyone with back issues.)
Measuring 97 x 43 x 21 inches when in use (read: over nine feet long), I’d recommend clearing out at least 27 rectangular feet of space for the Aviron Impact Series. Folding and unfolding the rower is as simple as pulling a lever underneath; lowering the rower to the floor by the handle; and swinging the long end upwards until it locks into place. Then it’s just a matter of pushing the rower to the desired location, which is a cinch since the whole thing is propped up on four wheels. (Note: these wheels don’t affect the stability of the machine when it’s unfolded.)
At 62 x 54 x 21 inches when not in use, it’s easy enough to roll this clunker right into a corner; I’m happy to report that the steel and aluminium construction is far lighter than it looks. Nevertheless, I’d definitely recommend making some in-home measurements before you buy.
Aviron’s dual air and magnetic resistance system is meant to mimic that authentic on-the-water experience, and each stroke felt smooth as butter in my testing. The Whisper Nylon belt — designed to operate under 60 decibels — is noticeably quieter than other rowing machines I’ve used in various gyms. With noise-canceling headphones in, the whooshing sound of each stroke was practically imperceivable.
The seat is 20 inches off the ground, which is higher than some competing rowers, and in my testing, this was an acceptably comfortable level for sitting up and down. I’m 6-foot-3-inches tall, but the Aviron Impact Series was designed to accommodate the extra-lanky: up to 6-foot-7-inches.
My review unit came fully assembled, but the company says it takes less than an hour to set everything up on your own (i.e., attaching the rail and touchscreen, mostly). After you plug in the machine, connect to Wi-Fi (or Ethernet), and create a user profile, it’s time to explore Aviron’s comprehensive library of fitness content. They release feature updates on a monthly basis, in addition to content updates every few months.
Aviron Impact Series Rower review: Membership features and perks
Starting at $2,199, this rower is already a premium investment for any home gym. Nevertheless, Aviron includes over 300 workout options at the moment, and they’re always updating their content. Still, the Impact series is more markedly more expensive than the $1,899 NordicTrack RW900, which also requires a monthly iFit membership ($39/month) to take full advantage of the machine’s myriad features, which includes live classes.
Avion charges $25 for their Personal membership, which includes unlimited user profiles and full access to their library of games, challenges, programs, and virtual rows. Scrolling from left to right, let’s take a look at the easy-to-navigate menu ribbon.
Quick Start: As the name suggests, this option lets you jump right into the action; Aviron’s Metrics Monitor keeps track of wattage, output, distance, pace, calories, strokes, SPM, heart rate, and elapsed time. (You can add friends to the platform, too.) This foundational feature works even without a membership; it’s good to see Aviron’s machine still holds value even if you cancel that monthly expense down the line.
Streaming: Uniquely, this is also where you can access Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and YouTube vids while you row, which is a simple — yet fantastic — addition to the platform. Your main metrics remain displayed on the top or bottom of the screen. This is a brilliant move on Aviron’s part, since this gives you tons of access to unbranded content. (Fitness theme optional.) It was pretty damn awesome rowing away to the Witcher, Encanto, and the Muppets during my testing.
Games: This is where you can access Aviron’s growing library of arcade-style rowing games. (As of this writing, there were 14 different titles to choose from.) For example, No Tomorrow is set up like a first-person shooter in which you’re tasked with obliterating robot enemies by rowing. Last Hope is modeled after a side-scrolling platformer in which frantic rowing keeps your character ahead of the zombie hordes.
Competition: From here you can challenge your friends, Aviron’s AI software, or just yourself to a few fun racing challenges; the AI personalizes your races based on both historical and live data.
Power Play: These rowing activities are a cross between game and guided program. Each workout is meant for one to three participants. Like most multiplayer games on the Aviron platform, you can host your own public/private room, or join an existing one.
Pros vs Joes: For those with a more competitive spirit, this area lets you go head-to-head against dozens of professional athletes. From competitive rowers to boxers to snowboarders to hockey players, there are tons of options here. During each race, you’ll see a video of the “pro” on their rowing machine, along with two boat graphics representing you and your opponent. Boy oh boy, if ever you want a humbling experience, rowing again Olympic-level athletes will sure do the trick.
Coached and Guided Programs: From core work to strength training, there are over 100 coached programs to kickstart your new fitness routine. This takes the guesswork out of creating your own cardio calendar, which is great for newbies. The more focused your fitness goals, the more useful this area becomes.
Virtual: As a New York City resident who’s constantly combating cabin fever, virtual rowing was my favorite part of the whole machine. This highly immersive feature uses that HD touchscreen to explore picturesque locales all over the planet. From the Philippines to Austria to Canada to Thailand, there are more than 30 relaxing environments to row in. The movement of your boat matches the movement (and power) behind your rows, which genuinely makes me feel like I’m out on the water. For example, if you stop rowing, the boat stops moving on the screen, and the elapsed time freezes until you start up again. No matter how you slice it, ending any workout with a virtual row is surprisingly therapeutic (especially when using Bluetooth headphones).
On the left side of the home screen are options to edit your profile, tweak equipment settings, and view your stats, achievements, and workout history. Aviron tracks the total number of workouts completed; output (measured in kilojoules); calories burned; meters rowed; strokes rowed; time rowed; average watts; average calories burned per hour; average 500-meter split time; and average SPM (strokes per minute). You can toggle between all-time stats, the last 24 hours, the last seven days, or the last 30 days; you can also click on any given workout to see individual stats.
But that’s not all! Aviron has a pretty robust Facebook community, where you can organize upcoming activities with fellow rowers via group workouts. For example, one member might post a meeting room number for others to join. It would be awesome if you could access this Facebook group right from the touchscreen, but that kind of integration isn’t in the cards just yet. Nevertheless, according to Andy Hoang, founder and CEO of Aviron, Aviron’s development team is always looking to improve their social features. And it shows.
The Leaderboard tab lets you view Aviron’s global rankings, including where you stand on the list. After a couple of months of casual testing, I was ranked 1,220 out of 3,399 total users. The Monthly Challenge tab shows your progress toward finishing said challenge, which changes every 30 days. For example, as of this writing, I was 18% through the February Challenge, which meant completing 50 total workouts between February 1st and February 28th.
Aviron Impact Series Rower review: Performance
To put the Aviron Impact Series through its paces, I tested the rower for about two months from my apartment. In that time, I completed nearly four hours of rowing — mostly in 5 to 20-minute increments — torching through 1,472 total calories; traveling 40,813 meters; and completing 4,496 total strokes. I racked up 15 different achievements to boot (e.g. exceeding three hours of exercise time; completing two challenges in a 24-hour span).
From a mechanical perspective, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall ergonomics Aviron had to offer; it’s easy as pie folding and unfolding the rower, and just as easy to roll it around my apartment once the hinge is locked into place. The seat is comfortable enough for my boney butt, and locking your feet into the footpads is a literal cinch. The drive belt extends and retracts in one smooth, uninterrupted motion that’s easy to adjust your torso to, and the touchscreen controls are accessible enough for adding resistance on the fly. The handlebar is easy to grip, though, from my perspective, it could be wider by a couple inches.
My two favorite features were Pros vs. Joes and Virtual, and I spent most of my testing using the latter mode to warm up or cool down from other workouts. I feel a noticeable increase in strength and flexibility in my upper body, and my lumbar region has never felt stronger. If you’ve been thinking about adding a rower to your home gym, I feel confident in recommending this one.
Aviron Impact Series Rower review: Verdict
The price of entry may give you pause, but there’s a lot to like about the Aviron Impact Series rowing machine, and my list of complaints is as predictable as it is short: North of $2K is a considerable investment when it comes to home gym gear, and anyone willing to cough up an extra $25 per month for Aviron’s membership package better get their money’s worth. Which is a tall order, since live classes aren’t part of the mix.
That said, speaking as a novice rower but seasoned expert in analyzing the overall value of futuristic fitness tech that arrives at my doorstep, I’d argue that Aviron packs a lot of value into a surprisingly stowable package with the Impact Series Rower. Whether you want to gamify your next cardio routine or simply escape to wayward waterways of the world in a virtual canoe, Aviron is sure to have a positive impact on your fitness journey. See you on the water, fellow fitness fanatics.