I've sat on no less than fifty different rowing machines in my life, and most of those over the last six years. I've tried rowers using air, water, magnets and quaint old hydraulics to resist my efforts to pull on the handle.
I've rowed on squeaky ones, clunky ones, ones that feel ready to break any moment, while others are so silky smooth you barely know you're moving.
I've worked out on machines costing less than $80 (that's the one that I thought would break) and another that cost over $3,000 - and yes, that's the ultra-smooth one.
But as much as I love trying different machines of all shapes and sizes, listing pros, cons, likes and dislikes, it really comes down a simple question.
Are you prepared to spend $900 on a rowing machine?
If you answer 'YES' - it's a no-brainer... go for a Concept2 Model D!
Okay, there are a few other considerations, such as noise. The Concept2 uses air for resistance so is a little noisier than a magnetic model. If using in a small space or apartment you might want to look at LifeCore's R100, or a WaterRower.
But apart from that, there really is not much to think about. The Concept2 has at the time of writing over 740 reviews on Amazon, with 94% being 5-stars, 5% are 4-stars, and 1% being 3-stars. That's a pretty big vote of confidence from the great American buying public - and let's face it, you're a hard-to-please audience who expect quality and reliability when spending close to a thousand bucks!
The only other consideration is whether to spend $200 more and go for the Model E - but if you're reasonably fit and don't suffer from a bad back or dodgy knees, don't bother as the Model D will do all you need.
I did go through a period of thinking Concept2 were looking a bit long in the tooth and standing still while the competition caught up. But not to be out done, the bods at the world's best know rowing machine company came up with the PM5 (performance monitor) with online connectivity and PC-compatible software so you can compare your performances with other Concept2 users worldwide. You can also race online - if you're the competitive type :0)
But it's not just the latest technology that make this iconic machine a favorite with gyms around the world - it's the build quality and design that make it such a tough, reliable model. And if they can survive in a club when being hammered by all those gym-junkies for 16 hours a day with minimal maintenance, just think how long it will last in your home!
I know users who've owned a Concept2 for 10 years and they're still going strong! They're literally indestructible and will take just about anything you can throw at it. A few squirts of oil on the chain and running mechanisms every month or so and that's your maintenance done.
Do the math - $900 to keep fit and in shape for 10 years, works out at around 25 cents a day. That's about two sips of a decent coffee!
So when we use the term 'no-brainer' it must have been originally used when deciding to buy a Concept2 or not :0) Go on, treat yourself, it will be the best investment you can make for your health and well-being.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.